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The Linux Desktop Evolves With KDE 4.4 - page 2

More Usability

  • February 9, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

KDE 4.4 also makes strides in its efforts to provide users with a semantic desktop. Since at least July 2007, KDE developers have been working a project called NEPOMUK (Networked Environment for Personalized, Ontology-based Management of Unified Knowledge). In KDE 4.4, Nepomuk integration is tighter than in any prior KDE release.

"Nepomuk is on the cutting edge when it comes to search, social and semantic desktop usage," Seigo said. "As such, it has been slowly evolving both in terms of what Nepomuk is capable of doing and how the applications are using it. While Nepomuk features could be seen in the first KDE 4 SC releases, it has really blossomed in the last year."

Included with KDE 4.4 is a new backend, called Virtuoso, which provides increased performance and new tools to application developers.

"Two such tools are the improved search in the KDE file manager, Dolphin, and the new timeline view which shows what you have been working on in the order you have been doing so," Seigo said. "Additionally, the KDE 4 groupware system, Akonadi, is now using Nepomuk to transparently categorize and index e-mails, events and contacts used by KDE 4 applications."

Security

Improved security for applications is another area explored by KDE 4.4 with the new KAuth authentication and policy framework using a Linux technology called PolicyKit. KAuth is not a replacement for common SUDO and SU commands used by Linux users to raise their privileges, but rather serves a different goal.

"While SU and SUDO will probably always have uses on Unix and Unix-like systems, KAuth provides a layer between the applications and the system specific systems which allows us to write more portable software that is future-proof from operating-system-level changes," Seigo said. "Additionally, KAuth provides seamless integration between the underlying system and KDE user interfaces. For instance, if a user is allowed to proceed with a certain task, KAuth may automatically enable (or disable) certain parts of the user interface. This is something that SU/SUDO on its own cannot do."

Seigo said that the KDE team plans to focus on performance and stability issues this year. The first patch-level release, KDE SC 4.4.1, is expected to arrive in about a month.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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