What's new with KDE 4.3?

Applications

Things have also changed for applications: KMail allows users to add images to HTML messages. KAlarm lets you export alarms to a calendar file, as well as set alarms for tasks pulled from KOrganizer. The Okular document viewer now reads the widespread Mobipocket eBook format developed by French Amazon.com subsidiary Mobipocket. The Marble virtual atlas now displays the moon and a couple of other planets, such as Venus or Mars, and integrates the Wikipedia and Flickr online services (Figure 5). The convenient Okteta hex editor now has a filesystem browser, an overview of the loaded document, and a bookmark management feature. The Ark archiver supports InfoZip archives and offers improved handling of GZIP and BZIP2 files. More intelligible error messages improve user friendliness. KGpg now imports keys from a key server, and not just from local files.

Figure 5: Marble integrates online services like Wikipedia and Flickr.

Game developers have also been busy. KDE 4.3 again includes the KTron game. Many games now use an Egyptian-looking default theme (Figure 6). KGoldRunner, a MineRunner clone, records and replays games. KPatience optionally stores the game status when you quit, allowing players to carry on with a game after a break. KMahjongg includes 70 new levels provided by KDE users.

Figure 6: Egyptian mummies chase down the elusive Kapman.

Contributions

The reworked DrKonqi crash dialog makes it much easier to create error reports. The program relies on the GDB debugger to trace a crash and gives the user help if the required debug packages are missing. DrKonqi guides the user through the error report creation process step by step, lists possible duplicates, and sends the report to KDE project's Bugzilla. This allows users with little background knowledge to create error reports that are valuable to developers.

Conclusions

In our lab, KDE performed reliably and stably for the most part. Applications such as KMail, Dolphin, Konqueror, Akregator, Okular, Gwenview, KGet, and Marble were convincing in production use. The revamped messaging system and the Plasma activities feature also showed promise.

The Remember The Milk plasmoid had a habit of crashing the Plasma desktop. Improved protection of the desktop against potentially dysfunctional plasmoids would seem to make sense. Minor bugs in KOrganizer turned out to be fairly pesky. The upcoming bug fixes will probably help remove some of the problems with version 4.3.0.

I have to deduct a few points for the desktop search, which is still not implemented correctly and still doesn't work without some tinkering. KDE 4.3 printing is still not in the same league as KDE 3.5, and PolicyKit integration is still waiting to happen. Many applications have yet to implement the Akonadi personal information store. Thus, KDE users have good reason to look forward to the next major release.

The Author

Martin Steigerwald works as a trainer, consultant, and system administrator for team(ix) GmbH in Nuremberg, Germany. He focuses on Linux training; designing, installing, and maintaining reliable Debian Linux-based IT infrastructures; and second-level support for Linux as a business desktop for teamix(ix) customers.

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