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.comment: A Look at KDE2

What's New?

  • October 25, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

KDE2 is here and it is very good.

I'd actually forgotten how good.

How's that, you say? Well, I've been using KDE2 exclusively for three weeks shy of a year now--by that, I of course mean the development stuff that has coalesced into KDE2--so the improvements have been incremental here, not at all like the stunning difference the user switching from KDE-1.x will experience. I actually had to go back and play with KDE-1.1.2 for a few hours to refresh my recollection. And while KDE-1.x was an Open Source landmark, stable, configurable, easy, bright, and fun, it doesn't hold a candle to the new version. The differences are as striking (though I do not equate them in any other way) as the differences between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. KDE2, though differing from the Microsoft product in that it is stable, shows that much more depth.

Gone is the solid but basic KFM, the file manager that also really handled many of the desktop functions. It is replaced by the remarkable and robust Konqueror--file manager, file viewer, web browser, ftp client, and so much more. Gone, too, is the familiar KPanel, replaced by Kicker, which performs the functions of KPanel plus taskbar and pager. The KMenu has been greatly improved, now grouping KDE and non-KDE applications together. KOrganizer actually works and is now useful, and its integration with applications such as KMail has been completed. New Internet applications include Kit, an AOL Instant Messenger program, and KNode, a more-than-decent news reader.

The underlying architecture has been improved everywhere and completely changed where needed. The whole thing is object-oriented, so that in one application you will find things familiar from other applications--greatly reducing the learning curve--and built, in large measure, from powerful and cleverly designed reusable parts. What makes this so cool is that as new parts are added, existing applications will be able to make use of them with a minimum of recoding. Third-party developers are already at work on additional KParts, leading, for instance, to the Kivio flow-chart application that theKompany.com released in early beta last week.

It's a major release in every sense of the word.

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