KDE 4.3.0 Released

KDE Community Delivers Incremental Innovations With New KDE 4.3 Release

KDE 4.3 (Codename: "Caizen") Delivers Incremental Innovations to the Free Desktop Users and Software Developers

4 August, 2009. The KDE Community today announces the immediate availability of "Caizen", (a.k.a KDE 4.3), bringing many improvements to the user experience and development platform. KDE 4.3 continues to refine the unique features brought in previous releases while bringing new innovations. With the 4.2 release aimed at the majority of end users, KDE 4.3 offers a more stable and complete product for the home and small office.


The KDE 4.3 Desktop

The KDE community has fixed over 10,000 bugs and implemented almost 2,000 feature requests in the last 6 months. Close to 63,000 changes were checked in by a little under 700 contributors. Read on for an overview of the changes in the KDE 4.3 Desktop Workspace, Application Suites and the KDE 4.3 Development Platform.


Desktop Improves Performance And Usability

The KDE Desktop Workspace provides a powerful and complete desktop experience that features excellent integration with Linux and UNIX operating systems. The key components that make up the KDE Desktop Workspace include:

  • KWin, a powerful window manager that provides modern 3D graphical effects
  • The Plasma Desktop Shell, a cutting-edge desktop and panels system that features productivity enhancements and online integration through customizable widgets
  • Dolphin, a user-friendly, network- and content-aware file manager
  • KRunner, a search and launch system for running commands and finding useful information
  • easy access to desktop and system controls through SystemSettings.

Below you can find a short list of improvements to the KDE Desktop Workspace.

  • The Plasma Desktop Shell introduces a new default theme, Air. Air looks much lighter and fits better with the default application theme. Plasma also has seen large performance improvements. Memory usage has been reduced, and animations are smoother. Activities can now be tied to virtual desktops, allowing users to have different widgets on each of their desktops. Furthermore, Plasma has improved upon its job and notification management. Running jobs are grouped in a single progress bar to prevent the popup of too many dialogs. Animations are used to signify that jobs are still running by smoothly sliding dialogs into the systemtray and animating the notification icon. Smaller changes in Plasma include fully configurable keyboard shortcuts and more extensive keyboard navigation, the ability to create a plasma widget when you drag or copy content on the desktop and many new and improved Plasma widgets. The folderview widget now allows the user to peek into a folder by hovering it and the new Translatoid widget translates words and sentences right on your desktop using Google Translate. Furthermore, KRunner made its plugin features easier to discover by having a 'help' button showing the syntax of commands in the result area. Actions also have a small configuration allowing for example to start applications under another user account.


Web integration in KDE 4.3

  • The file manager Dolphin shows small previews of files within a folder and video thumbnails to help the user identify items. The trash can now be configured from the Dolphin Settings menu, and various configurable limitations on the trash size help make sure the disk does not fill up with deleted files. The menu which is shown on a right mouseclick on a item is configurable and the configuration dialog in general has been redesigned to be easier to use. The new network:/ location shows other computers and services on the network (currently limited to those announced by DNS-SD/zeroconf protocols, more will be supported in future versions).

  • Further refinements to the workspace tools make it easier to work with your computer. A faster SystemSettings introduces an optional treeview for the configuration and several improvements to settingsdialogs. New effects like 'Sheet' and "Slide Back" and better performance in KWin make window management more smooth, while integration with the Plasma themes creates a more consistent look. Klipper, a tool which keeps a history of things copied to the clipboard, can now act intelligently on the content. It automatically determines a list of applications which can handle a object copied to the clipboard and allows the user to start them right away.


Applications Leap Forward

A great number of sophisticated applications are provided by the KDE community which take full advantage of the powerful KDE Application Framework. A selection of these applications are included in the KDE Software Distribution, divided up by category into various Application Suites. These include:

  • KDE Network Applications
  • KDE Multimedia
  • KDE Graphics Tools
  • KDE PIM Suite (for personal information management and communication)
  • KDE Educational Applications
  • KDE Games
  • KDE Utilities
  • KDE Software Development Platform

Together they form a comprehensive set of desktop essentials that run on most modern operating systems. Below you will find a selection of improvements to some of these Application Suites.

  • The KDE Utilities have seen many improvements. Among other things, KGpg, the privacy tool used for encryption and signing files and emails integrates Solid for detecting the availability of a network connection and has improved its key import dialog. Ark, a file compression and decompression application now supports LZMA/XZ, has improved support for zip, rar and 7zip and works better with drag'n'drop. KDELirc, a frontend for the Linux Infrared Remote Control system (LIRC), has been ported to KDE 4 and is included again. Okteta, the KDE hex editor gained a checksum tool, a filesystem browser sideview and a bookmarks sidebar. Lokalize, the KDE translation tool, introduces support for scripts, new fileformats and the translation of ODF documents.

  • The KDE games now use a similar Egyptian-style theme in many of the games. KGoldrunner introduces a new game, "Curse of the Mummy" and improves gameplay with more accurate pause, resume and recording and replaying of games. KMahjongg introduces 70 new user-submitted levels and a new game, KTron, has been introduced. Some games introduced new features like the Vaporizer action in Killbots and a better AI in Bovo. Thanks to work on file loading and saving the state of scalable images many games start and run faster.

  • The KDE Personal Information Management applications have seen improvements in various area's like performance and stability. Instant messenger Kopete introduces an improved contact list and KOrganizer can sync with Google Calendar. Kmail supports inserting inline images into email and the Alarm notifier gained export functionality, drag and drop and has an improved configuration.


Some Egyptian themes

  • In case something goes wrong with a KDE application and it crashes, the new Bug Report Tool will make it easier for the user to contribute to the stability of KDE. The bug report tool provides a three-star rating of the quality of the data it gathered on the crash. It also gives hints on how to improve the quality of the crash data and the bug report itself while guiding the user through the process of reporting. During the Beta cycles for this release the new bug report tool has already proven itself by the increased quality of bug reports.


Platform Accelerates Development

The KDE community brings many innovations for application developers to the forefront in the KDE Application Development Framework. Building on the strengths of Nokia's Qt library, this integrated and consistent framework has been crafted in direct response to the needs of real-world application developers.

The KDE Application Development Framework helps developers create robust applications efficiently by streamlining the complexity and tedious tasks usually associated with application development. Its use by KDE applications provides a compelling showcase for its flexibility and utility.

Liberally licensed under the LGPL (allowing for both proprietary and open source development) and cross-platform (Linux, UNIX, Mac and MS Windows), it contains among other things a powerful component model (KParts), network transparent data access (KIO) and flexible configuration management. Dozens of useful widgets ranging from file dialogs to font selectors are provided and the framework also offers semantic search integration (Nepomuk), hardware awareness (Solid) and multimedia access (Phonon). Read on for a list of improvements to the KDE Application Development Framework.

  • The KDE 4.3 Application Development Framework introduces the beginnings of Social Desktop integration, bringing the worldwide Free Software community to the desktop. Offering an open collaboration, sharing and communication platform, the Social Desktop initiative aims to allow people to share their knowledge withouth giving up control to an external organisation. The platform currently offers a DataEngine for plasma applets supporting aspects of Social Desktop.

  • The new system tray protocol developed in collaboration with the Free Desktop initiative is a long-overdue overhaul of the old systray specification. The old systemtray using small embedded windows did not allow for any kind of control by the systemtray over its contents, limiting the flexibility for the user and application developer at the same time. While the new systemtray supports both the old and new standard, application developers are encouraged to upgrade their applications to the new specifications. For more information check this blog or find more information on TechBase.

  • The Plasma Desktop Shell introduces a Geolocation DataEngine using libgps and HostIP which allows plasmoids to easily respond to the location of the user. Other new DataEngines provide access to Akonadi resources (including mail and calendar), Nepomuk metadata and keyboard state besides the various improvements to existing DataEngines. Read about using and discovering DataEngines on TechBase.

  • The KDE Application Development Framework introduces a PolicyKit wrapper making it easy for developers who want their application to perform privileged actions in a secure, consistent and easy way. Provided are an authorization manager and an authentication agent, and an easy library for developers to use. Read here on TechBase for a tutorial!

  • Akonadi, the Free Desktop PIM storage solution has been deemed ready for more widespread usage. Besides the availability of the DataEngine for plasma, application developers are encouraged to have a look at the TechBase page if their application needs access to or store chat logs, email, blogs, contacts, or any other kind of personal data. As a cross-desktop technology Akonadi can provide access to any kind of data and is designed to handle high volumes, thus allowing for a wide range of usecases.


Social desktop and other online services in action

More changes

As mentioned, the above is just a selection of the changes and improvements to the KDE Desktop Workspace, KDE Application Suites and KDE Application Development Framework. A more comprehensive yet still incomplete list can be found in the KDE 4.3 feature plan on TechBase. Information about applications developed by the KDE community outside of the KDE Application Suites can be found on KDE family webpage and on the kde-apps website. The Marble developers from the KDE Edu team have released marble 0.8 with KDE 4.3 and compiled an extended visual changelog on their website.

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22 Comments

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Downloaded OpenSuse 11.2 Milestone this weekend, it came with KDE 4.3, and have to say so far it is running good, however OpenSuse still has a problem playing MP3s. But KDE with the new look is something I find pleasing to use, and not hard to look at; IMO.

i always found the kde UI disproportionate
some things are fat and ugly, some are compact and nice, some are medium, all feels like it was put together as the above post stated
however this version is a big improvement none the less

Could you be more specific on which part of the UI is disproportionate?
Maybe file a bug report. That would certainly help developers to correct that issue.
Regards.

Still feels like 50 different designers disagreed with each other on just about everything and split all the elements amongst themselves. Same feeling that's plaged KDE for years, imo. It just feels very cobbled together.

It looks good, though prefixing the K to all their application names makes things unnecessarily obscure. Not everyone thinks its cute if you can sneak a K into an application name to what desktop environment religion it subscribes to.

4.3 finally makes KDE seem usable again. Works fine in my testbox on Kubuntu. I still prefer Gnome though and consider the OpenSUSE start menu Slab superior to the one offered in KDE or standard Gnome. Very neat, easy to use and professional looking.

Slab is pretty attractive, though it contributes to my impression of Linux as the great equalizer when it comes to Apple vs Microsoft.

Slab is pretty darn 'inspired' by Microsoft's start menu. Noting that Linux GUI's tend to imitate Microsoft's work immediately after Microsoft puts it together, you can quickly realize that accusions of Microsoft copying MacOS are fairly unfounded at this point. After all, if these UI elements existed in MacOS first, Linux could've incorporated them before MS got around to it.

However, UI trends in things like KDE (and Slab) are very precisely timed historically to show up shortly after a Windows release that introduces them. The only amazing thing to me is how KDE proponents will insist they see no similarities. I had to choke back a guffaw once when a previous version of KDE was defended because the "gradient wasn't to the same degree" as Vista, or this-or-that was 3 pixels narrower/wider than Vista, and therefore totally original work.

Septimus said,
Prefer gnome in most cases, but there is no getting away from the fact KDE beats it hands down for looks.

KDE Looks pretty, but I still find gnome to be easier to customize to my liking.

toki said,
Interesting when they will stop to copy the Windows UI....

Yeah, and the basic conepts for the Windows and OSX interfaces was created by the guys at Xerox, so basically they're all "copying" it from Xerox.

Grow up, this argument is very childish.

Caleb said,
Yeah, and the basic conepts for the Windows and OSX interfaces was created by the guys at Xerox, so basically they're all "copying" it from Xerox.

That's funny....they "copied" it from a company that makes equipment to allow you to copy....kind of ironic don't you think?

Good job on Kde 4.3. Hope it'll appear quickly in the Mandriva repositories.

Caleb said,
Yeah, and the basic conepts for the Windows and OSX interfaces was created by the guys at Xerox, so basically they're all "copying" it from Xerox.

Grow up, this argument is very childish.

Yes, it's very childish indeed.

Caleb said,
Yeah, and the basic conepts for the Windows and OSX interfaces was created by the guys at Xerox, so basically they're all "copying" it from Xerox.

Grow up, this argument is very childish.

Yeah I wondered when the win vs lin UI tit for tat was gonna start...only took to the third comment :sarcasm:

DanCADMan said,
That's funny....they "copied" it from a company that makes equipment to allow you to copy....kind of ironic don't you think?

You really have no clue, do you?

toki said,
Interesting when they will stop to copy the Windows UI....

OK, handbags out. Is your middle name troll? You pop up in every Linux discussion with some trollish comment, so I was just wondering. Perhaps you were dropped on your head by Torvalds when you were a baby? If you follow your normal adult line of behavior, at this point you'll start name calling and telling me how you are a Linux developer who is disgruntled by the number of distros and the inefficiency of the Linux OS compared to your pet Windows. Here's a thought... if you really are a developer, and Linux truly is as bad as you keep saying, get off your rear and do some coding of your own to prove the point. I'm sure Linus would be more than happy to see where he has gone wrong all these years, for that matter, KDE would probably be very grateful for your constructive criticism of their desktop.

Funnily enough, as I recall, when Win 7 screenshots started appearing, there was a lot of rumbling on KDE centric forums about how KDE4 had been ripped off. It's a pointless argument from any angle, a GUI is only going to be able to be presented in just so many ways, and fashion is fashion. If anybody thinks otherwise, take a look at automobile design and how manufacturers tend to follow trends.

Back to the thread... I haven't bothered with 4 up to now. One thing that does concern me is the use of Dolphin as the default file manager. Tried it some time ago in its KDE3 guise, and while it is simple, perhaps it is too simple? Thought the removal of Konq as default was a mistake, to get the same level of functionality in Windows XP as with Konqueror would require the installation of something like Directory Opus (great program btw). What are the user experiences with KDE4 in this regard?

Logizomechanophobic said,
Thought the removal of Konq as default was a mistake, to get the same level of functionality in Windows XP as with Konqueror would require the installation of something like Directory Opus (great program btw). What are the user experiences with KDE4 in this regard?

Personally I don't like this choice either and the first thing I do after installing KDE is to change this behavior.
The main purpose of using Dolphin as a file manager was simplicity of use, leaving Konqueror for other tasks like Web browsing. This approach is understandable, but doesn't go well with advanced users.
There are requests to get Konqueror back as default file manager. Vote on it, maybe it will come true for a next release.

Have to say it is quite the improvement over 4.1 (that last one I setup). Always liked KDE over Gnome, so now it looks as though it is time to upgrade.

Pam14160 said,
Have to say it is quite the improvement over 4.1 (that last one I setup). Always liked KDE over Gnome, so now it looks as though it is time to upgrade.

Very true, KDE 4.1 was bloody awful.