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.comment: New Stuff - page 2

Free as in Software and PictureBooks

  • April 25, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell
When I built the KDE-2.2 alpha 1 last week, I was pleasantly surprised, upon opening Konqueror, to see that the icons for hidden directories had taken on a lighter, pastel hue, different from directories that are not hidden. And I was all prepared to trumpet this joyous news. It really is cool, and it opens the door for some even cooler development and configuration options, because it means that the alpha channel has been opened.

But jumping back to KDE-2.1 for a quick comparison of something else sucked all the wind out of that: the alpha shading of hidden directories was now in 2.1, too! After a few seconds of puzzlement, I remembered that I'd built the hacked QT, called "qt-copy," from the KDE CVS tree. Still, it is fairly readily available, and we can expect it to be standard real soon now.

As to the KDE-2.2 alpha 1 itself, there's not a lot that would instantly stand out for the average KDE user, but this is a little misleading. For instance, I can now print reliably from KDE applications, due to the unfinished but serviceable new Kprinter engine. I'm given to understand that this is because I have CUPS installed; the plugins for other printing systems are minimal or nonexistent at present. On the other hand, CUPS is so good that I can't imagine why anyone would want to do without it.

KMail now supports IMAP, or so I'm told. I don't have any cause to use IMAP, and a lot of cause not to. KMail in the alpha also crashes a lot more frequently than it has in any release version, going back to 1.0, always (at least around here) when I'm sending a message. It saves the message and sends it uneventfully when KMail is reopened, so this is simply an occasional annoyance, more than made up for by the fact that KMail doesn't freeze during sends until the message is on its way, something that has been an irritant for years now.

An even greater irritant, to me, is the addition of KDE-DB in kdelibs, and if you roll your own it might just irritate you as well. Reason is, it looks during ./configure for MySQL, and if it finds it, odds are that the build will explode long into the process. The reason is that it wants to use libmysqlclient.so, which many if not most distributions put in /usr/lib. But, having found /usr/lib/mysql, configure tells make to get it there, and make can't find it there, and the whole sorry business comes crashing down. I did symlinks to cure this, only to get a new and different explosion in that I've updated my glibc and libmysqlclient.so wanted the old one. Given the choice between building MySQL and nuking all evidence of it from the hard drive and starting from scratch, I did the latter and kdelibs built, after about five wasted hours. When I asked about this, I was told that it was necessary for ReKall, the database application joining KOffice. This strikes me as a great reason for moving the whole mess to KOffice instead of kdelibs, but maybe there's a compelling reason to keep it where it is. Anyway, prepare for a little bump here, unless you got your glibc at the same time and place as you got your MySQL and symlink libmysqlclient.so to /usr/lib/mysql. I understand that KDE-DB works with PostgresSQL as well (maybe better).

Overall, though the announcement was festooned with the appropriate warnings, KDE-2.2 alpha 1 is pretty stable around here. It hasn't locked up or crashed at all in a week's constant use. In that my production KDE is always the latest CVS tree that built, I'm accustomed to occasional hiccups, but I think that if there were anything seriously wrong with this alpha, I would have noticed it. Still, if you want to give it a try, back up your existing KDE first. This will be a lot of fun for those whose distributions mindlessly dump KDE into /usr, but you should be able to fiddle with environment variables and get it to work. Just renaming /opt/kde or /usr/local/kde is a lot easier, though.

One note: The alpha doesn't break all your existing KDE configuration files, but it does break some of them. So if Konqueror or Konsole misbehaves, delete ~/kde/share/config/[application]rc. The application will work after that. though if you are used to other than the default configuration, you'll have to do your customization again.

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