The first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Slackware

DISCLAIMER: Be prepared. There is whining ahead. I want to preface this by saying that I’m not interested in having a discussion about why I don’t gush with love over KDE 4, and I’m not particularly interested in suggestions for forcing it to work for me. This post is more about me wrapping my head around planning for how my use of Linux is going to change now that I’m going to have to re-think a lot of things about what has been my favorite Linux distro for years.

Why I’m disappointed

I guess I probably shouldn’t be too surprised, because I knew that Pat Volkerding has been working with my least favorite desktop environment and it’s been in /current for a while now.

But I guess a part of me still was holding out a childish hope that KDE4 was going to be included in /testing only, and that the default version of KDE for the Slackware 13.0 release would be KDE 3.5.10, the last decent release of that desktop environment. Given Patrick’s tendency to play it safe in regular Slackware releases and stick with only stable, fully-developed and thoroughly tested applications and desktop environments, I would have thought that something like KDE 4 — a desktop environment that’s still easily a year’s worth of hard development away from being a suitable replacement for KDE 3 — would be back-burnered in Slackware in favor of what is known to work and work well.

I probably shouldn’t be upset about this; it’s Linux… if I don’t like it, I can just make my own distro, right? If I want to spend the hours and hours it’ll take for that, sure. Well, I’m not to the point of making my own distro yet. But this does mean I’m going to have to significantly change my Linux usage, starting with replacing a bunch of stuff.


Finding a replacement is hard

Unfortunately, I’m not sure where to go now. I’m in the process of downloading the Slackware 13.0 ISO right now, but my plans have already changed for it. Initially I had intended to burn the ISO to DVD and upgrade my primary desktop machine from Slackware 12.1 to Slackware 13.0.

However, after this bad news, there’s not a chance of that happening now. I have absolutely no use for KDE 4, and I was going to be switching back to KDE as my primary desktop environment again once Slackware 13 came out, because I figured it’d be the last version I’d be needing for quite a while.

But now, before Slackware 13.0 sees life on any of my real hardware, it’s going to be virtualized for me to poke at it with a stick first. For the first time, I’m now skeptical of the rest of Slackware as well, because this KDE thing is just too much of a deviation from what I’ve come to expect out of this distro, and I don’t want to start blowing away the Slackware 12.1 installation I have living on my primary machine in favor of something that’s going to take me a lot of work to bring up to usable levels without doing some testing first.

For one thing, I’ll be needing to replace some components that are now going to be missing out of Slackware due to a lack of KDE 3.

Window manager

I won’t be installing KDE 4, that’s for sure. I won’t be using it, and I don’t need it wasting space.

Now I’m glad I’ve spent the past few months reacquainting myself with Fluxbox; at this point, if I want to run something newer than Slackware 12.1 or 12.2, I’ll be needing that comfort level with Fluxbox. Fluxbox is something that I like a lot… it’s lightning fast, very stable, flexible, incredibly tweakable and incredibly customizable on nearly every level, and that flexibility, tweaking, and customizing is very easy to do in Fluxbox. In short, it’s nearly the exact opposite of KDE 4.

I can live with Fluxbox; it’s quite possible that even if Slackware 13.0 had included KDE 3.5.10, I may have ended up using Fluxbox as my main environment down the road anyway, because I do like Fluxbox that much.

But now I don’t really have much of a choice. For all the talk of a fork last year when KDE 4 was foisted upon us, nobody to my knowledge has since done anything worth mentioning with respect to a fork based on porting KDE 3 to Qt4, and, frankly, doing so myself would be getting me in way, way over my head. I’ve done some poking around, and the task of getting KDE 3.5.10 to work on Slackware 13 just seems like far more trouble than it’s worth.

So that means I’ll be using Fluxbox, plain and simple. Like I said, I can live with that. But the loss of some of the KDE apps that I’ve grown to love will hurt. Which brings me to my next subject.

Applications

I just don’t know what I’m going to do about some applications. While I’ve grown pretty comfortable using Fluxbox again, I still haven’t managed to shake my dependence on several KDE applications, such as Kontact, the Konqueror file manager, and most of all, Amarok.

I’ve done some testing (because I’ve been afraid of this day coming) and I can probably live with Thunderbird for mail and XFE for file management.

Thunderbird doesn’t do calendaring without a couple of add-ons, and it isn’t as robust as Kontact, but it’ll do, at least until I find something better.

XFE is faster than Konqueror, lighter weight, and pretty flexible… I just really wish it had tabs, damn it! That’s the one thing it’s missing that I’m really going to wish I had going forward. I use tabs in Konqueror all the time… it’s a very efficient way to do file management, and while some other file managers have tabs, most of them suck in ways that XFE doesn’t. When it comes down to it, I’d rather have everything else not suck and live without tabs than the other way around.

But Amarok, I just don’t know. I’ve had pretty awful luck getting a lot of other players working on Slackware (such as Rhythmbox, Banshee and Songbird, for example. All three were an exercise in dependency hell), and I really like Amarok a lot better as far as full-featured music players go (I’ve tried them out on my Ubuntu machine, I just couldn’t get them working in Slackware). Nothing against Xmms or anything, it just doesn’t do as much and I’ve gotten spoiled over the past few years with Amarok.

So I really don’t know where I’ll end up when it comes to music players. I’ll probably give one of the other ones a try that I couldn’t get working before, and just make do, like everything else.

Changing distros

Of course I have another option available to me, one I didn’t want to think too much about: I’m talking about abandoning Slackware entirely and moving on to a different distro. Considering how many other distros have also jumped on the KDE 4 bandwagon prematurely, I’m not sure what that’d get me. If my testing doesn’t find anything goofy or flaky with Slackware 13.0, I can guess I’ll probably still prefer Slackware for everything else despite the KDE 4 thing.

I have given Debian some thought, but I know they’re in testing with KDE 4 as well, even though the current regular version is KDE 3.5.9, so that wouldn’t help much. One nice thing about Debian is APT, with which one could easily install KDE 3.5 after doing a barebones install; that would be a heck of a lot easier to do with APT on Debian than it would be trying to do by hand with Slackware.

As long as KDE 3.5.* is maintained in the APT repositories, Debian could be a viable option going forward, at least until someone spins off a Slackware distro without KDE 4 as a part of it — and no plans to include it in the immediate future.

In my recent experiences with Ubuntu, I’ve learned to appreciate APT as a packaging tool, though I think if I were picking a Debian based distro to go with as my primary desktop OS, I’d probably just go with Debian itself rather than Ubuntu. I’m not completely finished assessing Ubuntu yet, but already I can tell you that I prefer a less in-your-face distro. A lot of what I’ve done on my Ubuntu machine has been disabling most of what it does that gets in my way… something tells me that doing a barebones vanilla Debian install and then adding on only specifically what I want would give me something close in terms of stability and usability to what I’m used to in my years of running Slackware.

I know, there are a lot of other distros out there yet to try, many of which are Slackware based and many of them DON’T have KDE 4 as their default desktop environment (yet).

I might have to do some more research and take a look at the myriad Slackware spinoffs out there and see if any of them are worth moving to permanently. If any of you can suggest a good Slackware based distro that packages KDE 3.5.9 or 3.5.10 as its desktop, I’d love to hear it.

Until then, I’ll be sticking with what I have. Slackware 12.1 has been excellent on this machine; I was looking forward to upgrading it, but since in doing so I’ll lose the use out of some of my favorite applications, I don’t really consider that an “upgrade” at this point, so 12.1 it is!

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55 thoughts on “The first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Slackware

  1. Did you read the full announcement?

    multimedia tools (including the amazing Amarok
    music player and K3B disc burning software), the Konqueror web browser and file manager,

    I’ll have to DL 13 myself and check that out because I’ve never gotten K3B working under KDE 4 yet.

    • Yup, I read the full announcement. Those are all the KDE 4 versions of those apps. From what I’ve read, there are major issues with Amarok and K3b that are unresolved in KDE 4.2.4. As for Konqueror, they broke it as a file manager in KDE 4 so as to force people to use “Dolphin”, which I dislike. Since I don’t use Dolphin, and I have no use for Konqueror as a browser (does anyone, really?), and I’m not interested in fighting with the issues I’ve read about in Amarok and K3b (I liked K3b in KDE 3.5, too bad :( ), I’m not going to be using any of those.

      So, since there aren’t any apps tagging along with KDE 4 that I’ll be using, I figure why bother even installing KDE 4 at all? I’d be using my replacements for those anyway, so there isn’t any point in installing them.

    • Hmmm.
      I wonder what the problem is, with K3b not working in Slackware for you.
      I used it last night and it burned a dvd fine.

      I am using Slackware64 with kde4.6.0–but can that be the difference? 64 bit?
      IN any case it has worked fine on SLAMD64 for a couple years as well.

      Are you looking for help with a solution or have you given up at this point already?

  2. Well, I’m not surprised by what you wrote considering I’ve known your feelings towards KDE4 for quite awhile (btw, the new Amarok sucks too). I was excited about trying out Slackware 13, but I know I would have run something like Afterstep of Fluxbox as a WM on it instead of KDE4.
    Currently there’s no way for me to give my machine a Slack install so I won’t even be getting the chance to try the new version, but I’ve found an adequate substitute. There’s nothing quite like Slackware, but there’s still dozens of worthwhile distributions out there that don’t use KDE4.

  3. Ahhh okee. I haven’t paid enough attention to know about any differences in versions. I’m really only in a GUI on Slack for a few minutes a day if then.

    I don’t like Dolphin either. I’ve found Thunar to be decent ish.

    I’m still going to grab the x64 13 disto and try it out.

    • Thunar is okay, but it suffers from one of the things really bugging me lately… it has a distinct lack of options about even basic things.

      I could use Thunar if I had to, but it would bug me. XFE’s a lot better. It has a lot more flexibility and it’s a lot faster.

    • I am staying with 12.2, at least for a while. But I’m not going to be staying with it forever; at some point I’m going to be needing to upgrade.

  4. While I’m not a big KDE guy either, I support Pat’s decision. He can’t put off updating to 4.x forever, and the truth is, it’s a stable desktop. Plus, there are a ton of people who love it. The best solution, if you don’t, is to stick to 12.2. It’ll be supported for years to come (security updates are still being pushed down to 9.1 or so). Or, as others have commented, try out xfce or fluxbox :)

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you brought some of that up, because I do have a response to most of what you’ve said, so bear with me if it seems like I’m rambling.

      While I’m not a big KDE guy either, I support Pat’s decision.

      As do I…. Slackware is Pat’s distro; he can do whatever he wants with it. Heck, he could turn it into Hannah Montana Linux if he really wanted to.

      I just think that someone had to say this, because I know I’m not the only one to be upset about it.

      He can’t put off updating to 4.x forever,

      Of course not. But I do think he probably should have put it off until it was ready to actually replace KDE 3.5… which it isn’t, not by a long shot. In another year or so, that might actually be the case, but now? Not even close.

      and the truth is, it’s a stable desktop.

      Not in my experience, not compared to KDE 3.5, it’s not. For me, KDE 4 has KDE 3.5 to live up to, and that means for everything: usability, flexibility, customizability, and stability. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable comparison; KDE 4 is supposed to replace KDE 3.5, after all. Currently it fails to do so on all of those comparisons.

      Plus, there are a ton of people who love it.

      Heh. Yeah, but there are a ton of people who love Windows Vista, too. But that doesn’t mean it’s any good. :P

      The best solution, if you don’t, is to stick to 12.2. It’ll be supported for years to come (security updates are still being pushed down to 9.1 or so).

      Well, as I had mentioned, that’s what I’m doing, at least for now. And at a certain point, one thing or another will happen. In another year or so, Pat may release a version of Slackware that includes a version of KDE 4 that doesn’t suck. In that case, I’ll probably upgrade to it. That’ll be at LEAST a year down the road, however, because that’s how long I think it’ll be before KDE 4 can actually replace KDE 3.5 effectively, assuming the KDE dev team continues to work on finishing this as yet still-feels-like-a-bad-alpha product.

      Alternatively, Pat may realize the error of his ways and release a new version of Slackware with KDE 3.5.10 as an alternative. If that’s the case, however unlikely, I’ll happily use it.

      Otherwise, a year or so down the road, if neither of those options is available, I’ll likely switch to a different distro. At this point, as I had mentioned in my post, the one that appeals to me the most is probably Debian, though if I’m made aware of a good Slackware based distro that doesn’t have anything to do with KDE 4, and doesn’t suck in other ways, I’ll probably be giving that a look.

      Or, as others have commented, try out xfce or fluxbox :)

      Take a closer look at my post… I’m already using Fluxbox, and most likely will continue to do so. I like Fluxbox a lot, and I’ve written extensively on the subject here. A bigger concern for me is replacing the various applications that are bundled with KDE of which I’ve grown fond over the years. These are applications that KDE 4 has either broken in some major way or altered in a way that I find unacceptable.

      I have hopes that at least some of these apps will be fixed down the road in KDE 4… then at least I’ll be able to use the apps, if not the entire desktop environment. As for those that they’ve changed in unacceptable ways (like Konqueror), I’m not holding out much hope. Those are design decisions made by an arrogant and hostile-to-criticism development team, and such things are never fixed. Instead, suggestions for fixing those types of problems are usually met with a littany of knee-jerk “OMG WHY DO YOU HATE CHANGE????” responses that are hardly constructive.

      To be clear, I don’t hate change. If I did hate change, I’d still be using Slackware 9.1. No, what I hate is change for the SAKE of change, removing features and options from products, and most of all, fixing what’s not broken.

      To me, KDE 4 compared to KDE 3.5 is like eating soup. The KDE devs decided that it’s so much better to replace my spoon with a fork.

      And when I complain about it, I’m met with the “you just don’t like it because it’s different” argument, which isn’t the case at all. In reality, eating soup with a fork is something I don’t like because it doesn’t work nearly as well as the previous tool it replaced. Period.

      Make that fork a lot more spoon-like, and we’ll talk. Until then, I’ll throw the fork on the floor and go back to my spoon. At least it works, and I don’t look quite as stupid trying to use it. :)

  5. give Crux Linux a spin, be sure to read the handbook, it requires you build your own kernel since it does not install a pre-compiled kernel so after the install before you reboot you use the install CD to chroot the install and change directories to /usr/src/linux-2.6.xx and do the kernel build, Crux also has a ports system similar to the BSDs and its ports system is better and easier to manage than gentoo’s portage.

    good luck and may the sourcecode be with you.

    • Thanks for the compliment. I figured it was time I started writing about one of my favorite subjects — Linux. I’m glad someone’s reading it. :P

      I’ll check out Arch; it’s one I’ve been meaning to investigate.

  6. I gave it a whirl on Friday night on the laptop. Yeah, aside from the general suckage of KDE4, I got at least one bug: my cursor kept turning into a big square block of pixels! Very annoying…

    I can’t think of a Slackware-based distro that uses KDE 3.5; most of them use Xfce (Zenwalk, Wolvix, GoblinX). Austrumi uses FVWM.

    I’m thinking of checking out Frugalware, which uses KDE 3.5. Wait, doesn’t VectorLinux have a version that uses KDE 3.5? I would imagine they’re testing with 4 though, too.

    I’m thinking of doing a custom Debian build for the laptop, starting with a minimal install. I made the mistake of moving from Zenwalk 6.0 to ZW 6.2 beta the other night before trying out Slack 13, and totally borked it.

    • I gave it a whirl on Friday night on the laptop. Yeah, aside from the general suckage of KDE4, I got at least one bug: my cursor kept turning into a big square block of pixels! Very annoying…

      I got the ISO downloaded the other night, but I haven’t had the chance to set anything up yet. I’m getting ready to virtualize it this afternoon.

      Wait, doesn’t VectorLinux have a version that uses KDE 3.5? I would imagine they’re testing with 4 though, too.

      Yeah, according to DistroWatch, they’re shipping Vector 6.0 with KDE 4.3.0, if I’m reading that right. XFCE is the default, but there’s no KDE 3.5 unless you go to an older version.

      Looks like Frugalware is still shipping with KDE 3.5.10, and it’s in a release candidate, so we know they’re not jumping quite yet.

      Gah. I really can’t believe all the bandwagon-jumping with this in most other distros though.. It’s really sad.

    • Definitely. And, to be honest, I don’t actually even care for the aesthetics of KDE 4 all that much either. It looks too much like Windows 7.

  7. KDE-4 (IMHO) so far is structured way to much like Gnome..if they keep this up, we may have 2 windows like clone desktops.

    • That’s assuming KDE 4 ever manages to be as usable as GNOME. Right now GNOME is far more flexible, which is disturbing (since my main complaint about GNOME is the lack of configurability and a lack of options).

  8. Pingback: Upgrading from KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 3.5.10 in Slackware 13 « The Linux Critic
  9. I don’t know why you are calling kde4.3 garbage. Most of the apps have developed more features than in kde3 and they are (for me) as stable as before. (Just to mention a few: kmail, korganizer, kopete…) On the other hand its a pity that k3b is still not ready, however the svn version is working pretty well for me, so thats not in issue.

    Please start telling us some real arguments than just calling a huge software project awful. Thats really narrow minded and maybe you are just too conservative to try out new stuff or to get used to a new way of using a desktop environement. (For example, why don’t you like dolphin? It has almost the same feature set as konqueror for browsing local files and some nice additions)

    PS: I can’t imagine going back to the crappy kicker…
    PS2: Have you ever compared gwenview from kde4 to the old one from kde3?

    • I don’t know why you are calling kde4.3 garbage.

      I’m not going to go into my assessment of KDE 4 here… that’d be an entirely separate post, one that would probably go 3 or 4 pages or more if I got detailed about it. This wasn’t a discussion on why KDE 4 is not an adequate replacement. It was a discussion of rethinking my attachment to Slackware because of its inclusion… to the exclusion of KDE 3.5.10.

      Also, Slackware 13.0 packages KDE 4.2.4, not KDE 4.3.

      Please start telling us some real arguments than just calling a huge software project awful.

      Again, that’s not the purpose of this post.

      Thats really narrow minded and maybe you are just too conservative to try out new stuff or to get used to a new way of using a desktop environement.

      Think before you post. If I was too conservative to try out new stuff, I’d still be using Windows. If I was too conservative to get used to a “new way of using a desktop environement” (sic), I wouldn’t be using things like Fluxbox. Perhaps you are too narrow minded to realize that what apparently inexplicably works for your needs doesn’t necessarily fit the needs of everyone.

      For me, KDE 4 is like eating soup with a fork. It isn’t a matter of “getting used to it”, and I don’t just dislike it “because it’s different”. I dislike it because it doesn’t work to eat soup with a fork. It’s sloppy, it isn’t well-designed for the task, and doing simple things is hard, or in some cases impossible.

      PS: I can’t imagine going back to the crappy kicker…

      At least the kicker was configurable. At least the kicker was flexible. At least the kicker could have app shortcuts dragged to it from the desktop. At least the kicker… ah, why bother? You’re too narrow minded to appreciate what was well thought out and robust about KDE 3.5.10. If it isn’t “new and shiny”, you don’t like it. Never mind if it’s actually functional or not.

      PS2: Have you ever compared gwenview from kde4 to the old one from kde3?

      I’ve never heard of gwenview, so no, I haven’t.

  10. Slack is famous for not modifying the crap out of upstream packages: that’s a feature and strength of Slack. But it also means that KDE4 is going to be KDE4… sadly. Therefore, I think you’re totally justified in writing your post having used KDE4 even before you’ve used Slack 13.

    Thanks for your comments. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in (a) loving Slack, and (b) being disappointed in the move to KDE4.

    • Slack is famous for not modifying the crap out of upstream packages: that’s a feature and strength of Slack.

      Absolutely! That’s one of the main reasons I’ve stuck with Slackware all these years. At the end of the day, Slackware is Linux, or as close to purist Linux as one is going to get in a major distro. It has the smallest footprint, and as such tends to be the most reliable in that sense.

      But it also means that KDE4 is going to be KDE4… sadly. Therefore, I think you’re totally justified in writing your post having used KDE4 even before you’ve used Slack 13.

      :( Yep. I know. I just didn’t see the sense in expecting KDE 4.2 somehow going from crap to “OMG WIN!!!!” just because it was included in a Slackware release. Instead, it was just disappointing to hear about, and, once tested, confirmed. I don’t honestly understand how that could be such an unreasonable line of thought.

      Thanks for your comments. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in (a) loving Slack, and (b) being disappointed in the move to KDE4.

      I’m glad I’M not alone… I’ve really done a lot of looking around the web, and apparently it’s no longer “cool” to be dissing on KDE 4. In fact, that situation has flipped around and it’s now apparently not politically correct to do anything other than gush with love over it. Worse yet, no progress at all has been made in keeping KDE 3.5.10 in working order for various distros, and I think that has to change. KDE 4 is simply not ready for replacing it — and I know this, because I have tried every milestone in the stupid project — which means abandoning KDE 3.5.10 is ridiculously premature.

      In case you’re interested, I worked out a method of getting KDE 3.5.10 to work on Slackware 13 yesterday. It’s not much, but it’s better than the alternative.

  11. Quote: “At least the kicker was configurable. At least the kicker was flexible. At least the kicker could have app shortcuts dragged to it from the desktop. At least the kicker… ah, why bother? You’re too narrow minded to appreciate what was well thought out and robust about KDE 3.5.10. If it isn’t “new and shiny”, you don’t like it. Never mind if it’s actually functional or not.”

    Do you know why they started with plasma and its panel? To satisfy the flexibilty ppl wanted over the old kicker thing.
    BTW: I can drag icons from desktop to the panel (maybe a 4.3 feature) and the panel is alraedy more flexible than kicker ever was… Not to start talking about the improved systray. KDE4 was desnigned to achieve more than just the old (well) thaught things in kde3… thats why they changed so much and they did it right. Furthermore I did appreciate almost everything in kde3, but now more things are possible!

    • Do you know why they started with plasma and its panel? To satisfy the flexibilty ppl wanted over the old kicker thing.
      BTW: I can drag icons from desktop to the panel (maybe a 4.3 feature) and the panel is alraedy more flexible than kicker ever was… Not to start talking about the improved systray. KDE4 was desnigned to achieve more than just the old (well) thaught things in kde3… thats why they changed so much and they did it right. Furthermore I did appreciate almost everything in kde3, but now more things are possible!

      I don’t care if you can drag icons from the desktop to the panel in KDE 4.3. That’s not what’s in Slackware.

      And I don’t care what the reasons are, and I don’t care how many “more things are possible”. Right now, KDE 4 is not an adequate replacement for KDE 3.5.10, so its inclusion in Slackware to the exclusion of 3.5 is premature.

      You might as well point at Windows and say “Look at how great Windows is! Just think of how SECURE it will be in 4 or 5 releases! And just think, maybe down the road they’ll open source it! Think of the possibilities!”.

      Silly? Pointless? Yes. It doesn’t make any sense to even bother making that argument, because you’re missing the point entirely. The point is, KDE 4 is not adequate now. No amount of argument will change that simple fact. I agree, down the road, KDE 4 might be the best thing ever. But right now it’s a steaming pile, and I have used it again and again and again, and so far not only have I not been impressed, I’ve been frustrated, angered, and out-and-out insulted by this crap that still feels like an alpha test.

      This project needs at LEAST another year of development and some attention to simple usability features that are missing from it before I’ll even consider KDE 4 to be a viable option. And with the kind of arrogant attitudes the KDE developers have towards those features, I’m beginning to have doubts that KDE 4 will be ready for the desktop for everyday use even then.

      But my point is, it’s not ready now. It doesn’t suit my needs now. It doesn’t belong in Slackware as anything other than in /testing, and it’s going to make a lot of peoples’ upgrade paths more difficult for its being there. I’m not saying you can’t use it. Go ahead. Eat that soup with a fork.

      But don’t expect everyone else to, just because you have embraced it. It doesn’t work for everyone.

  12. KDE4 is only missing the made for NVIDIA logo found in most games. I’m surprised it don’t pop up on the Xbox 360 titles.

    Finding a new distribution can be difficult if you’re used to a set way of handling things. It’s a natural occurance. Like people with psychological trauma.
    They keep going back.

    Ubuntu out of the box don’t have support for many media formats. Mint does. But Ubuntu is the only distribution to have locked the hole left by Intel graphics.
    9.10 will fix the problem.

    Slackware is missing out and carries the Intel curse with their reluctance to wait for 2.6.31’s kernel.
    But they have included MPlayer.

    No distribution comes with libdvdcss. I roll my own Slack and it’s got it.

    There are so many good distributions out there.
    I just wish they would include the development packages by default.

    Arch is minimilistic, I really can’t stand have to start from scratch.
    Gentoo looks promising.

    But other than Fedora and Ubuntu nobody else supports the laptop keyboard function keys out of the box.

  13. I use Slackware 13 with lxde or xfce, and both work beautifully and very productively, and still allow to run many of the kde apps should you want them.

    I don’t like KDE4, not because it sucks but because it keeps getting in my way. But then I didnt like kDE3 for the same reasons – not enough support for keyboard, trendy desktop ideas coming from windows or mac which are more about impressing your friends than getting anything done, hiding important features behind nondescript buttons (no text or symbols, wth?)

    I’m not trolling, I’d honestly like to know what was so good about KDE3, what do you all see in it that I am missing?

    • I use Slackware 13 with lxde or xfce, and both work beautifully and very productively, and still allow to run many of the kde apps should you want them.

      I don’t like what they did with some of the KDE apps in KDE 4.

      I’m not trolling, I’d honestly like to know what was so good about KDE3, what do you all see in it that I am missing?

      I don’t want to get into gory details. Suffice to say that I like how just about every element of KDE 3.5.10 can be customized. I like that it’s flexible. I like that it’s intuitive. It’s easy to figure out how to do things in it. Better yet, it’s possible to do such things in KDE 3.5.10. In KDE 4.2.4, it’s not. KDE 3.5.10 might not be the be-all-end-all in a desktop environment. There are many, many things that could be improved upon.

      But in my opinion, trashing it entirely in favor of KDE 4 was an insult. It’s like when Ford replaced the old Mustang muscle car with the pissant 1980s era hatchback (which some referred to as a “glorified Ford Escort” as I recall) that bore the same name.

      I have basic standards when it comes to software. If, in a new version, you remove features and flexibility, it’s an automatic FAIL in my book.

      You’d think that by right-clicking on the desktop there would be a “create link to application” in KDE 4.2.4… but there isn’t. Instead, you can add a “widget”, which is similar, but not really the same thing. I couldn’t figure out how, aside from dragging from the menu, to create a shortcut to an application on the toolbar. So I figured I’d make my shortcuts on the desktop. Nope. I had to go through a retarded series of hacks to figure out how to do that.

      That’s a FAIL. If it takes me — and I consider myself an “expert” level user — almost an hour to figure out how to do a SIMPLE thing like that, it’s a FAIL.

      The toolbar in KDE 4 is the opposite of KDE 3.5.10. In KDE 3.5.10, I can customize nearly every aspect of the kicker panel. I can move it anywhere, I can add just about anything to it, I can make shortcuts to any app or applet I want on it, and I can do so with a few clicks.

      Again, I did eventually figure out how to do so in KDE 4. Sort of. Not to my satisfaction. And again, it took me many attempts using bizarre workarounds to figure out a half-assed solution that didn’t really work very well (between crashes).

      In short, KDE 3.5.10 is the opposite of KDE 4.2.4. Where 3.5.10 is flexible, 4.2.4 is rigid. Where 3.5.10 is intuitive, 4.2.4 is needlessly obtuse and therefore complex.

      I disagree with the very philosophy that Aaron Seigo has expressed that guides their “design” in KDE 4, that if they start adding customizability options to KDE 4 they’ll “sacrifice simplicity”.

      I’m sorry, but when you DON’T have any customizability options, and your retarded vision of how things should work doesn’t work for many users, what you have done is complicate the hell out of the user experience. When I have to spend nearly an hour just trying to figure out how the hell to CREATE A DESKTOP SHORTCUT TO AN APPLICATION, only to find that there basically is no real way to do so (except my half-assed workaround), you haven’t achieved “simplicity”, but in fact the opposite: frustrating, needless complexity.

      When you REMOVE options, you make things complex. To be clear, my desktop shortcut example is only one among many. I don’t want to give the impression that that’s my only beef with KDE 4; I have many, many issues with many aspects of it, but that one suffices to illustrate a pretty good example of the problems inherent in this disaster of a desktop environment.

      KDE 3.5.10 is simple by comparison. It doesn’t fight with me over doing the simplest things.

      I think it should be clear here that I’m not disliking KDE 4.2.4 because it’s “different“; that’s where everyone seems to go on this train of thought. “You just don’t like it because it’s a different way of doing things.” And “You only hate KDE 4 because it’s not what you’re used to.”

      No. I hate KDE 4 because it replaced KDE 3.5.10 and it’s missing massive amounts of functionality, flexibility, and usability. Therefore, it simply isn’t ready to replace it to 3.5.10’s exclusion. That’s not opinion, that’s fact.

      If I was resistant to change, I’d still be using Windows. If I were sticking stubbornly to only desktop paradigms that I’m “used to”, I would never use something like Fluxbox, or Openbox. Heck, or KDE 3.5.10. I welcome innovation and embrace new ideas.

      But I reject ones that are crap. I dislike GNOME, for example, for many reasons that you’ve already heard. Lack of options for basic things. Lack of configurability, lack of flexibility. They’ve oversimplified things in GNOME to the point where it’s actually complicated to do some things. I’ve had to dig into ridiculous levels of shell scripting and config file hacking to get GNOME to do simple, basic things (like disable my touchpad, for example, or configure the various GNOME screensavers, which have no graphical way of doing so… come on guys. Cut me a break here. Give me a “settings” button for each one so I don’t need to “su” to root and edit the goddamned screensaver config files one by one by hand. Is that so hard?). Removing options creates complexity, it doesn’t achieve simplicity.

      So what’s so great about KDE 3.5.10? Everything. It works, it’s easily tailored to what I want it to do without much trouble at all, and it doesn’t frustrate me. In short, it suits my needs and I enjoy using it. It’s the opposite of KDE 4. KDE 4 doesn’t work, it’s infuriatingly rigid and since I have to go through ridiculous levels of struggle to FORCE it to behave in a sane manner, it’s very frustrating and in the end, it STILL doesn’t suit my needs.

      So it’s a matter of comparison.

  14. Just for info, distributions still shipping with KDE3

    – pclinuxOS
    – gentoo
    – pardus
    – centos (but i think they will switch next release)
    – mepis (but I think they will switch next release)
    – mandriva (but…)
    – most of the BSDs

    and obviously several from source/from scratch options

    • PCLinuxOS will be shipping with KDE4 soon… they’re testing it in /current.

      Gentoo I’ve been meaning to try for quite a while… seems like an awful lot of work though, and that’s coming from someone who’s been a hands-on Slackware guy for years. :P

      I believe you’re right about CentOS and Mepis switching next release.

      Mandriva… ugh.

      BSD is an option; I’ve been meaning to try out FreeBSD for quite a while. I have a friend who swears by it. However, I think for now anyway, I’m sticking with a Linux. As I’ve mentioned previously, probably Debian if it isn’t Slackware going forward.

  15. Trent, will you be attempting to do with SW 13 for real, what you did in virtualization? Installing KDE 3.5 instead of 4, that is. Seems like that would be the way to go.

    You might also give Arch a try. They’ve got both KDE3.5 and 4 in the repositories, and you’re rolling your own systems from scratch, anyway, so there’s nothing there but what you want. Should be pretty easy for a guy like you.

    • Trent, will you be attempting to do with SW 13 for real, what you did in virtualization? Installing KDE 3.5 instead of 4, that is. Seems like that would be the way to go.

      I’m undecided as yet; all I did via virtualization was more or less a “proof of concept”. I’m not sure how well it’ll work in the real world. At the moment, I don’t have a machine that I can use for testing, so anything I do with this will be on my real box I use for a lot of stuff from day-to-day, and I’m reluctant to hose up what I have working well right now for something that uncertain.

      One thing I’m concerned about is updates. I’ll have to basically avoid using slapt-get for fear of it “updating” something and royally breaking it in KDE.

      And I’m not sure at this point that any other new features in Slackware 13 are worth the headache and uncertainty, considering all the work it’ll take to basically bring it around to where I basically already am.

      So I think most likely I’ll be sticking with what I have for now, in hopes that in the next year or so one of two options will present themselves:

      1. Patrick will relent and release a version of Slackware 13 with KDE 3.5.10 as the default, with KDE 4 in /testing, where it should be.

      2. A release of Slackware will come out with a version of KDE 4 that doesn’t completely suck.

      I’m not convinced of either being realistic; I’m still going to play the wait-and-see game, because despite this puzzling deviation from simplicity and stability, I still like to give Mr. Volkerding the benefit of the doubt.

      However, in all likelihood, in a year or so I’ll be distro shopping again, which makes me sad. :(

      For what it’s worth, I’m looking at it not so much as my leaving Slackware, but more as Slackware leaving me.

      KDE 4 is nowhere near ready for prime time. In keeping with what Patrick has done for years and years, and the entire time I’ve been a Slackware user, this release should have had KDE 3.5.10 as the default, and probably the next few releases as well. At LEAST until KDE 4 is a suitable replacement, which is a minimum of a year out by my guess at the current rate, and possibly more. Patrick’s never jumped the gun on something like this in the past that I have seen… heck, Slackware was still shipping with a 2.4.* kernel until Slackware 12. So for him to suddenly embrace KDE 4 before it’s even out of a state which still resembles compost…. well, I have to wonder if he’s gone off the deep end.

      You might also give Arch a try. They’ve got both KDE3.5 and 4 in the repositories, and you’re rolling your own systems from scratch, anyway, so there’s nothing there but what you want. Should be pretty easy for a guy like you.

      Yeah, I’ve seen you and Dave talk about Arch quite a bit. It’s definitely on my list when I go distro shopping.

      An unrealistic part of me is still hoping that there will be an actual KDE fork some day, but I can’t hold out for that. The obstacles in the way for that to be realized are just insurmountable without a whole team of really good Qt/KDE3 devs on it, and I just don’t think anyone’s willing to take it on.

  16. Thanks for taking the time – my reaction to KDE3 (and KDE4 and gnome) was a lot like your reaction to KDE4.

    I’m afraid I never took the time to get familiar with it, at which point the good points might have become self evident. There was too much between me and my tasks.

    And I am not doing it for KDE4 either, not yet – too much is getting in the way. I hear there’s a lot of clever touches, though, and again it might be that once you get to know it, the value becomes self evident.

    It is as you said it, I dont choose a desktop to impress my friends, I choose a desktop to get stuff done. If it is not self evident how to do some basic customization, i am not going to waste time on it. And if customisation and basic actions are hidden behind 6-step actions, I am out of there.

    See, i dont want to spend time managing my desktop, or my files, or my menus. The less time I have to spend on that, the better, because it gets in the way flow. Dont make me hunt for things, dont decide for me that a particular app is 3 levels deep in a submenu I’d never have looked in..

    You get the drift

    • See, i dont want to spend time managing my desktop, or my files, or my menus. The less time I have to spend on that, the better, because it gets in the way flow. Dont make me hunt for things, dont decide for me that a particular app is 3 levels deep in a submenu I’d never have looked in..

      Exactly!

      To be honest, I don’t use the KDE 3.5.10 menu much; I mostly make my application launchers either on the desktop or on the toolbar/panel in KDE. That’s one of the things that just royally set me off in KDE 4… not only can I not find anything I’m looking for in the menu (even the “classic” menu which is now an option in KDE 4 doesn’t have everything), but I can’t create launchers ANYWHERE. Unacceptable!

      That’s actually one of the reasons why I love Fluxbox so much. I set it up and it has everything I need right where I need it, and I don’t need to futz with it once everything’s set.

      Better yet, I don’t need to do a lot of configuration even when I reinstall, since the menu, init, startup, and keys files all are easily portable and hold pretty much everything I need to keep it working without any real work.

      Ultimately though, I’m still a tinkerer. KDE 3.5 is a wonderful playground for a tinkerer. KDE 4 is not. Fluxbox is a wonderful playground for a tinkerer… again, KDE 4 is not.

      You get the drift. :)

  17. Why because of few people hesitant to use KDE 4, then the majority of users liking KDE 4 must suffer and must go with all the hassle installing it manually? Like it or not, a lot of people already accept KDE 4.3 as a viable alternative to KDE 3.5. If you don’t like it, then you can do whatever you want with KDE 3.5.

    For me, KDE 4 is an amazing desktop to work and to develop + hack, KDE 3.5 was amazing too, but it shows its age now. Gnome is not, Fluxbox is not, Openbox is not.

  18. No, it is a fair point – KDE4 works for a lot of people. So does gnome and lxde and xfce etc.

    Partly it takes a certain amount of investment learning and customizing something until you see the value – and just because I am put off by KDE4 (i dont like the slowness of the menu and forced-on-me categories which seem to be standard everywhere. I’d group icons by “task mode” or have one long list with everything) doesnt mean it is crap.
    I’m the kind of person who on windows has Stardock’s object desktop but only for the usability additions and none of the shiny things, as well as tools like task commander – things you dont need to manage and configure!

    In a way it’d be nice to have some “profiles” in a desktop like KDE4 to suit different styles – a “i like bells and whistles” or a “i want fast, efficient and dont make me grab the mouse” etc. then you could get started with say one out of 5 setups that is closer to your style and you’d be less likely to be put off at the first 5 minutes

    • In a way it’d be nice to have some “profiles” in a desktop like KDE4 to suit different styles – a “i like bells and whistles” or a “i want fast, efficient and dont make me grab the mouse” etc. then you could get started with say one out of 5 setups that is closer to your style and you’d be less likely to be put off at the first 5 minutes

      Heh. You mean like KDE 3.5 prompts the user for when you start it up and log in the first time? :)

  19. Pingback: Moving from Kontact to Thunderbird « The Linux Critic
  20. I was VERY surprised where I saw in black text on my screen that said Slackware 13 was using KDE 4.2. Infact I was EXTREMELY shocked.

    I agree KDE 4.2 is no where near solid enough for the good old philosophy of Slackware. I remember Slackware still officially using the 2.4 kernel for years after everyone else was using 2.6. So I was expect KDE 3.5.10 for the next release.

    I think maybe its the fault of KDE, pat can’t really support a program thats not getting security updates anymore. so has to go with the next stable KDE even if its not as solid.

    • I agree KDE 4.2 is no where near solid enough for the good old philosophy of Slackware. I remember Slackware still officially using the 2.4 kernel for years after everyone else was using 2.6. So I was expect KDE 3.5.10 for the next release.

      Yep. Slackware was still using a 2.4 kernel until Slackware 12.0. WAY beyond anyone else. While I was eagerly awaiting some features from 2.6 to be standard in Slackware’s default kernel, I simply bided by time… Pat’s conservative approach was what made me stick with Slackware all those years to begin with.

      So yes, it was extremely out of character for him to include KDE 4 in a Slackware release front-and-center so obviously ahead of its time. It has left me questioning the entire distro, and I’m not just being melodramatic. If he’s willing to compromise in such a huge way on the default desktop environment, what else got included that simply isn’t ready for Slackware?

      I think maybe its the fault of KDE, pat can’t really support a program thats not getting security updates anymore. so has to go with the next stable KDE even if its not as solid.

      Yes and no. Yes, I blame KDE for developing this trainwreck of a replacement for KDE3.5… but 3.5.10 is stable, viable, and, most importantly, everything works in it. When I say that, I don’t just mean the environment itself, I mean the entire KDE software suite. Since the same can’t be said of KDE 4 and its applications (or, in some cases, conspicuous lack thereof), it was still Patrick’s choice to replace 3.5 with 4, and that’s why I’m finding myself questioning the wisdom of even sticking with Slackware going forward for me.

      It just doesn’t seem very Slackware-like.

      • Looking at it on distrowatch there are numerous things that I am surprised are in slackware 13, things that I would have expected not to be in Slackware for a while. even surprised formating as ext4 was an option. I am a bit undecided if I will use ext4 yet, or just keep with ext3 for now.

  21. I’ve had a similar experience with the 12.1 -> 13.0 upgrade and have settled for 12.2

    I found 13 to be pretty solid as a basic linux system and it solved a couple of hardware problems with USB and wifi that I was having with 12.1 – so I’m happy with that side of it.The problem for me is also the Desktop.

    I’m not interested in KDE but I’ve been using XFCE for a while. I liked it looks and relative simplicity but never really respected it as software since every upgrade brought some hassles with config formats changes etc. This time, with the upgrade the XFCE 4.6 I’ve given up, it’s terrible! I also set up a fluxbox alternative and have in fact got something that is probably better than my old XFCE desktop, so that’s a result!

    The other desktop problem I’ve been hit with in Slack 13.0 is the intel driver fiasco. I had poor 2D and 3D performance even with older drivers.

    For me the solution to these kind of problems is not to keep chasing the latest fixes and releases of x.org, kernel etc, but to take a step back to 12.2: I find my USB/wifi problems fixed and decent graphics performance.

    Maybe linux desktops are going through a bit of a clusterf’ck period generally. I’ve got my reservations about the x.org system and the way it’s developing – the intel mess seems like a symptom of this rather than an isolated problem.

    One of things I always liked about slackware was its careful package QA and reluctance to upgrade things until they’d proved themselves. Seems like they are doing a good job on the systems and server packages as ever but desktop is disappointing.

  22. it has been a while since i have used kde 3.5 but i have to say i am a bit surprised at reading how disappointed you are with kde4 because it’s working very well on my end.

    krunner (almost) eliminates the need to have launchers altogether. some of the kwin desktop effects are useful for window management particularly “present windows” and “desktop grid”. add some keyboard shortcuts with those and you have a real snappy desktop. okular and gwenview are great applications too. dolphin takes a bit of time for me to set it up but after that it doesn’t disappoint.

    i find kde4 to be highly customizable too, from shortcuts to setting up the desktop. it may have moved from the traditional desktop setup to a widget oriented one but it works.

    i’m having fun with kde4..i’m not sure if it’s because i didn’t use kde 3.5 much before or because it is actually good.

  23. So did you find a replacement. I’m having a tough time myself. For me Slackware 12 was a major improvement. 12.1 and 12.2 were just polish on a turd.

    13 is just riddled with problems I don’t feel like fixing.
    Sure most of them are documented in the release notes but if there was time taken to write the notes there should have been time expended to fix the problems.

    CD Burning was a known issue. If 10 people exclaim a problem and your’s works then you should choose the solution for the ten. Personally I think there are issues in the new HAL. DeviceKit should have been used. Pickup a copy of Fedora and study how they implemented theirs.

    Not invented here??

    Laptop acpi scripts are abundant in Ubuntu 8.10 – 9.10. Why can’t those be integrated?

    • I’m undecided as yet, but I’m leaning very heavily toward a clean, very barebones Debian installation on my primary machine, and then using APT to install piece by piece just what I need.

      I figure it’s a good analog for Slackware that way.

      I’m still doing research, however, so I likely won’t be actually rebuilding my primary Slackware box for another month or two, so I may still change my mind.

      One thing’s for certain, I’m only entertaining primary/major distros, or distros that are once removed (like Debian, or Ubuntu… but not something based on Ubuntu). I think that distros that are derived from distros derived from distros tend to get kind of muddy in the process, at least, that’s the impression I get after using Slackware for so long.

      Keep it simple.

  24. Pingback: The ongoing role of my old Toshiba laptop « The Linux Critic
  25. Like you, Im disappointed. and from reading some of the comments on here, I think its obvious some people just dont get it.

    The fact of the matter is that some people are impressed by “bells and whistles” and for those of us who – naively – believed that Slackware was about something different, this is somewhat of a kick in the teeth.

    Because IRRESPECTIVE of anyones assurances about kde4’s “stability”, the truth is that it is TARGETTED to a certain audience: that which is impressed by sparklies. So the views of those people are – largely – irrelevant given that Slackware used to be about reliability, performance and efficiency over appearances.

    If people dont understand why this fiasco is annoying, dont bother explaining to them; people who NEED that explanation are the ones least likely to understand – or benefit – from it.

    I have now completely given up on the idea of having a Slackware distro that I can install as a distro because the best desktop it ships with is – frankly – something that belongs in a low-class nightclub.

    So, my 64 bit Slackware excursion has ended up in a night-long rebuild from scratch to weed out all the garbage and substitute gnome instead.

    I dont know patrick personally so I cant comment on whether he is a “good guy” or not. But I will say that I think he made a mistake. Just because a bunch of people were doing something didnt mean he had to follow suit. After all, isnt that part of the spirit of the linux community, to offer choice and not be afraid to be “different”?

    • The way I see it, Slackware has always been a distro that is packaged by one guy, made the way that one guy likes it.

      Once that one guy started liking something that diverged from my own Linux tastes, that’s when we parted ways.

      I know, it’s just a Linux distro, but I was a “Slackware guy” myself for so long that I couldn’t help but be emotionally invested in it.

      But Slackware just isn’t for me anymore. I’ve moved on, and I’m approaching things with the same eye for detail, flexibility, and criticism I always had.

  26. Two years later, some great KDE 3 applications have stil fallen by the wayside and KDE got poorer for it. (Quanta Plus anyone?)

    Sadly the desktop is being dumbed down. Regardless of if you’re a Slackware user or not.

  27. did anyone i mean ANYONE ever think, with slackwares reputation, patrick just did a GREAT JOB with kde 4.2.4. maybe even BETTER then any other 4.2.4. distro?

    Absolutely! I’ve no doubt that Patrick did just that!

    I mean I read all your comments, NO ONE’S used slack 13, you are basing it off of unstable 4.2.4’s of OTHER distros.. give this great man a chance, then come back and comment with REAL experience related comparisons, complaints, or compliments.. I mean really.. Has he ever Let anyone down yet, in such a way everyone here is describing? I don’t think so.. heck, it may work better then ANY 4.2.4 does on ANY other distro from which you posters are/were accustomed to using,having trouble with.. thats my .02 cents, now i’m BROKE..

    I don’t think I need to use it in order to express my valid disappointment in this. Unless Patrick has spent the last year up to his elbows in KDE 4’s code, implementing about a billion missing features, fixing issues with many of its apps, adding huge layers of customizability and flexibility to KDE 4 to make it meet the same level of all of those things that is found in KDE 3.5 — in short, unless Patrick Volkerding has become a full-time KDE 4 developer, then there’s no way his implementation of it, no matter how well done, will fix my main issues with KDE 4.

    The finest chef in the world can dress up a plate of manure and make it as beautifully presented and as artfully garnished as he can…. but at the end of the day, what you still have is essentially a plate of manure.

    Patrick is one hell of a chef, but I doubt very, very much that he was able to make KDE 4 anything other than artfully and well-implemented manure. I have enormous faith in Mr. Volkerding — I’ve been a Slackware zealot for years, and I’ve come to depend on his judgement when it comes to the decisions he’s made with Slackware releases.

    But no implementation of KDE 4 can change the fact that it simply ISN’T even close to an adequate replacement for KDE 3.5.

  28. You wrote all this without even trying it????

    Isn’t that totally pathetic?

    What would I need to try?

    I have tried KDE 4, repeatedly. I already have no use for it. Most recently I have tried KDE 4.3 which is quite expertly packaged in OpenSUSE 11.1. It was awful.

    Slackware 13 includes KDE 4.2.4, which is even worse than KDE 4.3.

    I don’t need to try Slackware 13 to know that I still don’t like KDE 4. As I mentioned in a different comment, unless Pat Volkerding has spent the last year working on fixing the things I don’t like about KDE 4, I don’t think that I’ll have any different opinion of that desktop environment just because it’s in Slackware.

    So no, it’s not totally pathetic. I wrote all this to express my disappointment that Slackware 13 uses KDE 4 instead of the far superior KDE 3.5.10. Try reading before commenting next time.

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