Colorful KDE 3.1 Performance On Low-End Hardware - page 2
Running KDE 3.1 On Antique Iron
The big visual difference, between previous versions of KDE and KDE 3.1 are the icons and colors. 3.1 seems to have much more vivid colors on the desktop. The icons and graphics also have an air-brushed mystical look (Figure 1) without the sharp dark outlines, as in older KDE offerings. The people at the LUG seemed to like the new look. I'm kind of used to the old style. Actually, the new KDE reminded me of GNOME.
Most of the native K type applications have changed a little, in appearance. For example, Figure 2 shows the old KDE 3.0 KaddressBook Edit Contact panel. Figure 3 shows the KDE 3.1 verion of the panel. Same general layout, different icons.
One of the new features in this version is the tighter integration of Kpilot and the KaddressBook. Support is through the enhanced Kpilot conduits. You have to go into the Kpilot conduit menu and set which ones to use, but other than that, it was pretty straightforward. Do a sync in Kpilot and the addresses auto-magically appear in KaddressBook. The only problem I had was getting Kpilot to connect to my Visor. I had to create a symbolic link between /dev/ttyUSB1 and /dev/pilot. Kpilot uses /dev/pilot as the default.
That little clock down in the right hand corner of the task-bar has been updated a bit. Ever want to keep track of time in another time zone? Right click on the clock face, select "timezones" and then click on the one that you want. If you want to set your clock to a time in a major city, just click on "customize timezones" and select your city from the list.
Another useful new feature in this version is the desktop sharing function. Basically, KDE has installed a VNC like server program, with a little administrative front-end, on the desktop (Figure 4). It can be started from the K menu and allows you to invite and manage the remote connections to your desktop. You can remotely hook up to the KDE desktop from any VNC client. My LUG demo'd it last week and it worked great over my broadband connection. Coupling this feature to streaming audio and IRC gives a whole new dimension to "virtual" meetings.
I wanted to mention the KDE Kiosk features. You can now set up your desktop to act as a kiosk with limited access to menus and applications. In the past this had to be done via permissions and taking applications off of the desktop menus. The features are pretty extensive so you may want to take a look for yourself.
Some glitches did pop up in this review, but nothing too serious.
While I usually use SuSE 8.0 Pro, I decided to run Debian for this story, primarily because I had some dependency problems while trying to get KDE 3.1 to work on SuSE 8.0. This happened even though KDE binaries are available for use with SuSE 8.0. Apt-get worked great for loading KDE and took just a little persuading in the network setup department to get everything to work right.
KDE 3.1 has great performance, a clean look and some nice new functional enhancements. It's definitely a desktop that I can recommend.
Rob Reilly (aka: "Dr. Torque") is a senior technology consultant, whose work includes Linux, business systems integration, innovation training and occasional hot rodding excursions. He frequently writes and speaks about these and other topics. He has 17 years experience in the high technology, manufacturing and the utilities industries. He is always 'on-the-lookout' for stories and projects that focus on Linux, business and the cutting edge. Send him a note or visit his web site at http://home.cfl.rr.com/rreilly.