What KDE Still Lacks In Order to Become The Best

KDE, one of the first fully featured open source desktop environments, is at the brink of a new era, after releasing its first stable version of Plasma 5 workspace, there’s still much to be done. Where should the project focus its attention?

Updated Mar 20, 2016Editorials
KDE Next Gen

Linux users around the world have already heard the news about KDE’s latest major step towards an improved, modern desktop environment. In case you haven’t – KDE Plasma 5 is Finally Out!

This is merely an initial step (though, a big one) in a series of many that’s about to come. For those who’ve seen the images and screencasts, there’s no doubt the design has improved a lot, KDE looks more modern now.

As someone who also covers the subject and also experience it first hand, I can attest that the underlying technology and performance has improved as well.

However, there’s still a large gap which separates KDE’s 5th improved version from conquering the top charts of most Linux users that weren’t into KDE style upfront.

Without getting into buginess and stability issues, which could equally be part of distributions maintainer’s fault rather than KDE ones, here are my thoughts:

Customizable / Modular KDE

It’s pretty clear that KDE has and still is doing a great job when it comes to customizability / modularity.

For instance, if we compare it to GNOME or Elementary’s Pantheon for that matter, they are way more limiting about the features users may change out of the box.

It would be difficult to argue that KDE can’t be customized to look and do many of the things GNOME or Pantheon do by default.

The most obvious example would be is that KDE, unlike GNOME or Pantheon, lets you choose where to locate your main task-bar/panel on the screen and also to shape how would it look like and operate.

Try changing the position or even completely remove Pantheon’s Wingpanel or GNOME top panel – I assure you, without high level of understanding the way Linux works this would be practically impossible.

So this point is surely not one of KDE’s weaknesses nor an area where it lacks. but where do KDE needs to seek for significant improvements then?

Well, one of the fundamental components which mostly constitutes every fully featured desktop environment aside of its broader framework is also its apps.

Apps?

Yes, apps! aside from perhaps qBittorent and maybe Kdenlive, most of KDE’s default GUI apps usually falls short from their GTK counterparts.

For example, take Krita which is an alternative app to GIMP, you’re going to have hard time in finding users who prefer the former over the latter – and for good reasons that is.

Another prominent example would be Dragon player in contrast to Totem (Gnome Videos), in this case we have an app which saw its latest update at around 2008 (6 years ago) vs Totem which is still being worked upon even today as we speak.

dragon

Yes, it’s true that KDE offers many other apps and there are also other video players which are newer than Dragon – KMplayer (2012), however that’s not the point.

The point is even though those apps are old / less-popular, they are still being chosen by many Linux distros which offer KDE as a primary D.E. – and that’s says a lot about other KDE apps alternatives.

Of course this article is not about bashing the KDE team or the app maintainers in any what so ever way, not at all. On the contrary, this is simply the way things looks in my perspective and can be treated as a constructive criticism for the entire KDE contributing community.

When people choose a certain D.E. nowadays, some of their main considerations is whether the apps they like are part of that environment and whether they work well and look coherent with that environment.

Can KDE apps comply to these demands?

 

Hopefully, with this version of KDE environment, we will see a lot more focus going into that direction and better sooner than later :)

Are you disagreeing? share your thoughts in the comments below and let the world know how you feel…

COMMENTS (beta 4)

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bobby florence Jul '14
Good point. I have another few points that keep me from advising KDE 4 over GNOME to Linux newcomers: * Lack of design (appearance) consistency between GTK and Qt apps in KDE. In GNOME, for example, you could hardly tell if an app is gtk or qt based, and this consistency is offered out of the box. In KDE, on the other hand, you must rely on qtcurve, or stick with the (ugly) oxygen theme. * Ugliness of default apps and themes. System settings and oxygen. I hope these two are fixed in KDE5 (breeze is a wonderful theme IMHO, but I hope it will get proper window decorations) * It *feels* sluggish. Even though it isn't. GNOME with all those shiny animations and etc, *feels* faster and more polished. I hope this will get better with KDE 5 too. KDE5 (when feature complete) will definitely kick GNOME's ass.
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Liron Jul '14 bobby florence
about breeze window decorations, it seems they are being worked upon as we speak: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/63396655/dec_tabs2.png

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