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Konquering the Web - page 3

Konqueror: More than a Web Browser

  • May 30, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

If a file is of a type recognized internally by Konqueror, clicking on it will turn Konqueror itself into a viewer, letting you examine the file, inside the Konqueror window (or portion thereof, if it is split) itself. If the file is not recognized by Konqueror itself but you have told Konqueror what to do with that kind of file, it will be opened in the appropriate application. If you haven't told Konqueror what app to launch, it will ask you. The split window/view feature is useful here, too; it makes it easy to compare two documents, or two graphics files. Or, for that matter, four of them, or six, or however many you care to deal with at one time.

If you click on an executable file, it will execute--but if you click the right mouse button on that file, it will offer you the opportunity to look at it in your choice of editors, the dandy KHexEdit, whatever application you want. This is a not inconsiderable feature in a day when some people find it humorous to send malicious scripts in the mail (though KDE2's KMail program does not set the execute bit on attachments, even when they're saved to disk, for an extra level of protection). The choices it offers are not limited to applications in the KDE2 distribution, either: If you right-click on a graphics file, xv and the gimp will be among the applications offered for viewing or manipulating the file (assuming you have them installed). Konqueror, the user finds, is rich with such features. It's a very well thought-out application gorgeously executed. What's more, it's small and fast, unlike many Web browsers.

The Browser of Tomorrow, Here Today
Now how much would you pay? How about absolutely nothing? This remarkable new application is the native browser and file manager in the KDE2 distribution, now available in early beta (it works pretty well already, but don't complain if it breaks, because it's still months from release and it's impolite to distract the developers unless you've found a bug you're sure no one else has found). The best way to run it is with the full KDE2 pre-distribution, available at ftp://ftp.kde.org/pub/kde/snapshots/current/ or one of its mirrors. It is part of the kdebase package, but you need to install qt-2.1.0 (a/k/a qt-copy), kde-qt-addon, kdesupport, and kdelibs first, and to get any of them to compile you need kde-common as well. Instructions are available at http://www.kde.org/compilationfaq.html, and if you're already using KDE-1.x, you'll need to establish some method of running two versions of KDE and two versions of QT, as well as isolating the ~/.kde configuration files, so that you don't mess up your existing KDE--and so that you can run Konqueror with KDE-1.x as well. Though not always that day's code, binaries of the KDE2 distribution in pretty close to its current state can be grabbed at http://www.kde.org/install-binaries.html.

Konqueror is highly configurable. You can change the usual things, such as the colors of followed links, typefaces, and so on, to the terminal application that it calls when one is needed (the default is Konsole; you probably won't want to change it), Internet keywords and aliases, proxies and cookie handling, even whether actions require one click or two. There is a tree view available, three sizes of icon view, and a setting that toggles the display of hidden files and directories.

Having used it, played with it, tried to break it, for some time now, I've gotten the sense that in many respects Konqueror will be a landmark application. The trend is toward feature and code bloat, and Konqueror goes entirely the other way, providing a rich tapestry of features without packing in a bundle of useless ones. At first it seemed a little minimal, but as I've gotten to know it I haven't found any feature available in other browsers that isn't available in better form here. And now, when I'm waiting on one of the "big guy" browsers to load, I find myself wondering what in the world the programmers were up to, that they require all that code and still do less than Konqueror does. The feature-rich KDE2 distribution would be worth running for the strengths of Konqueror alone.

You will love it.

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