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KDE 4: Wow Factor Fully Engaged - page 2

Weird Science?

  • February 25, 2008
  • By Kenneth Hess

Perhaps the biggest change from KDE 3.x to KDE 4.x is the Plasma desktop shell interface. Plasma isn't just a pretty new face for KDE but is actually a complete rewrite and modernization of your desktop experience. Plasma mainly replaces your three old familiar KDE friends: KDesktop, Kicker, and SuperKaramba. Making these replacements required a thorough overhaul of the way users interact with their desktop and applications.

Plasma employs components or widgets called Plasmoids. Plasmoids are applets that you can resize, rotate, drag and drop from the taskbar to the desktop, and allow to interact with each other. The desktop itself is also a Plasmoid, which means you can move and situate it in ways that suits your needs and conform it to your way of working.

You may believe, after seeing KDE 4, that you have completely switched operating systems and that you are now using some morphed version of another operating system and not Linux at all. In fact, for some, using KDE 4 is as disorienting as moving from Windows to Linux. The only hint that you are using KDE at all is the familiar KDE icon in the bottom left corner of your screen. For example, the new application launcher Kicker (see Figure 1), while neater and more efficient than the old style menu system, takes some getting used to. The menus don't cascade like the old ones, leaving you with a breadcrumb trail of where you've been. Each time you select an application group, you pass completely into the next menu, and the only way back is the back bar on the menu (shown in Figure 2). You openSUSE users are already familiar with this newfangled application launcher and will have no trouble making the transition.

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