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Software Review: The KDE 4.6 Desktop Environment

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KDE

It’s been three years, and it’s still hard to put the KDE 4.0 debacle behind me. I was running KDE 3.5 on Debian stable happy as a clam, and then one fine day in January of 2008 the KDE folks dumped their brand-new, completely re-vamped desktop environment into our laps. I couldn’t get it for Debian so I installed another distro just to check it out… and used it for less than 24 hours. I could see what they were trying to do, and there were some good ideas there, but the implementation was so unbelievably bad that I missed out on the next two releases altogether. I didn’t try KDE 4.x again until January of last year, when I installed Debian testing with the KDE 4.3 desktop. It was great! Since then KDE has gone from strength to strength. KDE 4.4 was mature and stable, and KDE 4.5 added polish and finesse. KDE 4.6, released a little over a week ago, ups the ante once again.

Hidden Treasure:

A lot of the improvements in 4.6 are behind-the-scenes stuff that the casual user will never really notice. Most important is the move to upower and udev for back-end support, replacing the deprecated Hal. After installing KDE 4.6 I was able to uninstall Hal altogether. Additionally, the move to Akonadi, which will keep all your PIM information in a nice neat database, is finally coming to fruition, although the implementation has been delayed because the 4.6 edition of the KDEPIM suite wasn’t quite ready yet. It’s supposed to ship with KDE 4.6.1, which will be out later this month.

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