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KDE3 vs. KDE4: Is It Time to Switch?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

June 14, 2010

Bruce Byfield

Two and a half years after the KDE 4 series of releases began, many users are still using KDE 3. A preference for the familiar seems to motivate some; while others seem influenced by the rumors that began with the botched 4.0 release. Still others want a feature that the KDE 4 series has yet to implement -- or, sometimes, a feature they have been unable to find because of reorganization.

For whatever the reasons, several distributions continue to cater to the preference, including aLinux, Knoppix and MEPIS, all of which offer GNU/Linux with KDE 3.0 as the desktop.

This raises the question: How do the two series of KDE releases compare? The answer is not nearly as simple as you might assume.

The Basic Desktops

For those accustomed to the KDE 3 series, the first impression created by KDE 4 is a great leap forward in visual sophistication. Part of the reason for this impression is that the KDE 4 series supports SVG images for icons and window decorations. However, equally importantly, throughout the development of the KDE 4 series, the developers have paid close attention to visual appearances, with theme and icon developers working in teams, such as the one for Oxygen.

You can praise this attention to the visual as being sophisticated, or dismiss it as eye candy, but the fact remains that it makes a difference. Out of the box, KDE 4 releases compare visually with any operating system you can name. By contrast, although you can customize KDE 3 almost out of recognition, as aLinux does, it is still a desktop that reveals its origins in 2002. For better or worse, our concept of what a desktop should look like has shifted, and KDE 3 has not been seriously revamped for some times. Visually, it simply can't keep...

Read the rest of this KDE desktop story at Datamation.com

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