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Koming Back to KDE

What's New in KDE 3.2?

March 15, 2004

KDE has come a long way in usability, stability, compatibility, and features since I first used it. The latest release of the K Desktop Environment, 3.2.1, was released March 9. But for this review, I initially looked at KDE 3.2, which shows that Linux is increasingly competitive on the desktop.

Candidly, I was concerned that KDE's size and complexity would result in a desktop that was virtually unusable. I'm pleased and surprised to report that the KDE of today is a far cry from the bug-ridden, crash-prone, bloated pig of a desktop that I abandoned with disgust in the last millennium. Read on to learn why.

NOTE: In a classic moment of ill timing, just as I finished this review, the KDE Project released KDE 3.2.1. I've decided to leave the 3.2 review in place and add some updates at the end of this review that cover the new features of 3.2.1.

The executive summary of KDE 3.2's features includes:

  • Better overall performance, enhanced support for desktop interoperability standards, and increased compatibility with Web standards
  • New applications and utilities for messaging, graphics, games, personal productivity, and accessibility
  • Usability improvements in menus, tool bars, dialogs, and control panels
  • Cleaner default appearance, new icons, and updated artwork
  • Almost 10,000 bug reports resolved and some 2000 feature requests implemented
  • Developers get better KDE API documentation, new language bindings, new versions of the development tools, and UML support

KDE 3.2's usability and performance has improved. One of the first changes I noticed was significantly better speed in application start-up times and Web page rendering.

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