Replacing KDE applications

Those of you who have been following my Linux Critic blog know that I’ve been on an app-hunt to replace some of the applications to which I’ve grown used to in KDE, mostly so that I can break my ties with that desktop and move forward completely without it. So far I’ve had some measure of success in this task, so I thought I’d do a writeup in case anyone else out there is moving on from KDE and needs some ideas about how to do that.

Finding replacement apps: It’s like switching from Windows to Linux all over again

It feels like I just did this, even though I’ve been running Linux as my primary OS since around 2002. When I decided to stop using KDE recently, I was surprised to find how many KDE applications on which I had become dependent, and how little idea I had what to use as alternatives. Some of them are little and therefore easily replaced, but others that are more full-featured have been quite a challenge. Here’s a sampling of the ones I’ve been working on lately.

Konqueror File Manager

This one is quite possibly the hardest one I’ve had to replace. Anyone out there who has grown accustomed to the power and flexibility of Konqueror File Manager can attest that it’s very difficult to settle on something else once you’ve used it for any length of time.

Fortunately for me, there are many file managers out there for Linux, so I had options a-plenty, but none quite so robust as Konqueror, so I simply found that I had to compromise a number of things in the process. In the end, no single file manager fit my needs, so I replaced Konqueror with two: Thunar and XFE. I chose these two ultimately because they both have a tree-view in the left-pane and a folder/file view in the right-pane, and they both let you type your path into an address/location bar instead of clicking through a bunch of breadcrumbs (I hate file managers that only give you breadcrumbs).

Thunar is pretty, and simple, and has some nice features like thumbnail previews of image files, and it’s very lightweight when compared to Konqueror (but face it, just about ANY file manager is lightweight when compared to Konqueror). For most file management tasks, Thunar does pretty well, with the only thing I really miss out of it being the lack of tabs. One complaint I have about Thunar is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off the stupid delete confirmation dialogue.

Really? Seriously? I know that shouldn’t drive me nuts, but come on. It makes me feel like I’m using Windows 98 again. In fact, in my testing, I also gave PCManFM a try, and that one even has tabs… but it too had no way to disable the delete confirmation dialogue.

I have what I consider to be very simple tests to determine whether a file manager doesn’t suck, and this is one of them. It’s not a complicated thing.

So, when I get tired of that particular FAIL in Thunar, I switch to XFE. XFE is lightning fast, very Konqueror-like in its flexibility and power, but it has a couple of annoyances as well. XFE also doesn’t have tabs, but I discovered that pretty much everywhere, and I can live with that if I have to, but some basic behavior in XFE bugs me.

Example: You just copied a bunch of files into the clipboard and you navigate to the folder into which you wish to paste them. If that folder is full, anywhere you right-click to paste just shows the context-menu for the file in that spot. Basically put, if there’s no white space for you to right-click on, there’s no way to paste into that folder, aside from going up a level and right-clicking ON that folder and selecting paste.

Like the delete confirmation stupid I mentioned above, this is a little thing that should not bother me that much, but it does. I found myself getting burned by this simple behavior time and time again, and it eventually frustrates me and slows me down so much (I’m used to flying through file management tasks with Konqueror) that I close XFE and go back to Thunar.

I actually really like XFE in nearly every other way… the fact that it has an integrated editor (“xfw”) and the myriad configuration options in the “Preferences” give me lots of ways to make it do what I want it to do.

However, I have discovered, unsurprisingly, that replacing Konqueror is a tough task. In the end, what I have is a pair of applications (Thunar and XFE) that I alternate between based on whichever one happens to be annoying me the most at any given time. This may change down the road, of course. Maybe Thunar will end up with tabs and a way to shut off the “HAY STUPID, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DELEET THAT?” dialogue, and maybe the XFE devs will make some of its rather counter-intuitive behavior here and there (like I described above with copying and pasting) go away. Or, maybe some friendly reader here will pipe in and say “hey! Why don’t you try $XYZ? It’s just like Konqueror, but BETTER!” and suggest something that I never ran across that is a critic’s dream of a file manager. Who knows?


I’ve written on switching to Thunderbird before, but I felt it relevant to mention it here, given the rest of the discusssion.

Kontact is a full-featured “personal information manager”, not just a mail client. The only other all-in-one such app that does everything that Kontact does out-of-the-box that I found in the open source universe was Evolution, and my recent experiences with Evolution have been less than happy, so I looked elsewhere. What I discovered was that Thunderbird had improved quite a bit over the past few years since I last tried it, and since there are more add-ons for it than you can shake a proverbial stick at, I thought that I might be able to get it to do at least a few of the things I wanted, namely Google calendaring and tasks on top of just POP mail.

I was right. With the Lightning add-on, I had a really nice integrated calendar, and I found out that it can talk to Google for calendaring (which is one up on Kontact… I had to do some pretty goofy stuff to get Kontact to do that even in a half-assed fashion, as opposed to Thunderbird with Lightning, a “full-assed” solution).

So for me anyway, Thunderbird with one simple add-on was enough for me to replace Kontact. It’s a solid mail client, and installing one add-on didn’t impact its performance by any measurable amount, and it added some great calendaring functionality, so I’m pretty happy with the results of this alternative.


Amarok, like Konqueror, was another hard one to replace. While there are tons of open source music player applications out there, most of them are pretty feature-light. In fact, most of the ones I tested that liked to pretend to be “full featured” turned out to be less usable than even the lightweight XMMS. While there’s nothing wrong with XMMS, when you compare it to Amarok, it’s like comparing a compact economy car to a Cadillac. Yes, both will get you to where you’re going and they both do their stated job well, but when you’re used to the Cadillac, going to the compact economy car will leave you feeling short-changed.

So I tried a fair number of music players out there, including (but not limited to) Songbird, Banshee, Rhythmbox, and Audacious, and found that none of them were an adequate replacement for Amarok. I’d almost given up, but I had one more to try, and I’m glad I did try it. That one was Exaile.

Exaile is practically a GTK+ implementation of Amarok, it’s so close in form and function. It organizes your music library with a simple tree on the left, has an integrated album cover manager, sane buttons for controls, a big queue list that can be loaded simply by right-clicking on an artist, album, or song and selecting “append to current”, and the ability to create playlists very quickly and easily.


I haven’t found a replacement for K3b yet. Brasero is the one people always suggest, but I just find it a lot less intuitive than K3b. I can live with it, I suppose, but I’m still in the process of searching when it comes to DVD/CD burning.


Like K3b, I haven’t found a replacement for Quanta yet. Bluefish is the one everyone suggests as an alternative to Quanta, but there really is no comparison. Granted, I don’t do a huge amount of web authoring, but I have grown very attached to Quanta for writing my Linux Critic articles, since I prefer to just write in straight-up HTML rather than use the WYSIWYG editor in WordPress, and Bluefish doesn’t even come close to making that process as fast and as slick as Quanta does. So I’m still looking in this particular department as well.

A resource I need to use more

One thing I should mention, for anyone else out there that is also going through something similar, is a great place on the web to find alternates to various applications. has a huge list of applications to suggest if one is looking for another option for anything.

For example, just digging around a bit to look for Quanta alternatives yields this page which lists a fair number of applications I still have yet to try, so obviously I need to spend more time on that site in my endeavoring to replace KDE applications.

I’ll write up an update if or when I make any more progress in this task!

79 thoughts on “Replacing KDE applications

  1. It’s funny. I’m actually going the other way around: looking for qt applications to replace the gtk ones I’ve been using in the last few years, now that I’m moving from Gnome to KDE 4.3.



    • Heh. Then you know exactly what I’m talking about, right?

      Since you’re moving from GNOME, do you have anything to suggest in my search from the other direction as far as applications go?

  2. Too bad that you’re moving away from KDE, when the apps are obviously so good and so useful. In my experience, GNOME apps just don’t have the functionality that KDE apps generally have.

    Good luck!

    • In my experience, GNOME apps just don’t have the functionality that KDE apps generally have.

      Yeah, I’ve found the same. For little things (like GEdit instead of KEdit, for example) it doesn’t matter, but GNOME doesn’t even come close to comparing when it comes to KDE 3.5.10 for the sheer number and scope of really useful applications.

      I got kind of stuck by unintentional lock-in of a sort when I adopted KDE3 as my desktop environment of choice.

      In a way, it’s probably good that KDE4 isn’t for me… it’s forcing me to broaden the apps that I use, which keeps me from being too securely tied to any one source for them (which is what led me to this dilemma to begin with).

  3. Thunar and PCManFM both have the Compact/List view, but in KDE4 their “list” is something else. KDE4 is killing Linux on the desktop!

    Heck, even Windows Explorer (since Win98, I guess) has a List view, and Konqueor in KDE3 had it too, but in KDE4, Koqueror and Dolphin are made stupid, and “List” really means something else now.

  4. Béranger, by “list view” do you mean:
    – in Dolphin, “View”> “Panel” > “Folders” (F7)
    – in Konqueror, “Configure” > “Show Navigation Panel” (F9) ?

  5. I don’t have any KDE4 around right now, but I very much doubt that configurations with “Folders” or “Navigation Panel” could be functionally equivalent with the view mode that is:
    – in Thunar, “Compact View”
    – in newer versions of Nautilus, also “Compact View”
    – in Windows Explorer, “List”

    Konqueror3 was very intuitive. Konqueror4 is not, and Dolphin seems to have been designed for morons. I’d rather buy Windows7 than use KDE4. I tried to run KDE4 for many times.

  6. Why not just continue to use your KDE apps in Gnome? I haven’t tried Konqueror in Gnome, because I’m fine with Nautilus, but I’ve been using K3B, Amarok, Kaffeine, Kid3, and KTorrent under Gnome for years, and they work just fine. You have to set their font and appearance settings using the KDE system settings tool, because they don’t follow the Gnome settings, but other than that there’s no problem continuing to use them without using KDE proper.

    • Well, first of all, I don’t use GNOME; I use Fluxbox most of the time.

      Secondly, I’m doing this because I’m planning on going forward without ANY KDE installed, so there won’t be any KDE apps to run on my system.

      blackbelt_jones (at outkasts3510) and I are knocking around the idea of trying to cohesively organize a KDE3 community to try and keep it alive, but it’s still time for me to be moving on from KDE applications at this point.

      Otherwise your suggestions would be right on. Effectively, since I run Fluxbox more often than not, that’s essentially what I do (I still run Amarok, Konqueror, K3b, et al, just under the lighter weight Fluxbox window manager instead of in KDE proper).

      • Oops. Sorry, I didn’t see that you were using Fluxbox and not Gnome; my bad.

        If the goal is to get away from all the KDE apps, and not just the KDE environment, I have to ask what would be the problem with staying with the apps you like? Are you trying to avoid having more than one set of libraries in play, to save overhead? Not meaning to argue, just trying to understand the goal.

        • If the goal is to get away from all the KDE apps, and not just the KDE environment, I have to ask what would be the problem with staying with the apps you like? Are you trying to avoid having more than one set of libraries in play, to save overhead? Not meaning to argue, just trying to understand the goal.

          KDE3’s future is bleak, and KDE4 is not for me; for numerous, tired reasons I don’t feel like going into, I find KDE4 applications to be inadequate when compared to the KDE3 equivalents. At some point I’m going to have to face the reality that KDE just isn’t going to be around for me, so I thought I’d make a clean break now rather than down the road.

          So what I’m doing here is replacing those applications, because I’m planning on simply not installing KDE going forward.

            • Sure thing. To be honest, most of my major decisions are detailed in this post today. Konqueror and Amarok have been by far the hardest ones to replace… I’m just very attached to both, and while I’ve found a decent equivalent to Amarok in Exaile, it still seems less “slick” and well-developed by comparison.

              And Konqueror, well… there just ISN’T a replacement for it. I’ll just have to live in other file managers.

  7. Gosh, Dolphin (and Konqueror for 4.x) has had that since… like… ever!. Nice screenshot here (note that it’s posted Jan 2008): – go to section “views” and note that by defaul dolphin ships with three icons for switching view mode. I though you were refering to tree view.

    If you have tried KDE4 so many times as you say then you must have been paying little attention to the things you are now ranting about. It’d be nice if literate people like you would take the time to read the release announcements in detail. In that case we could have a constructive talk about how KDE4 compares to KDE3.

  8. Miguel, you’re TERRIBLY WRONG!

    Dolphin has 3 views available, Icons, Details and Columns, NONE OF WHICH corresponds to:
    – in Thunar, “Compact View”
    – in newer versions of Nautilus, also “Compact View”
    – in Windows Explorer, “List”

    Just take a fscking look at Thunar (also PCManFM) and Windows Explorer, SO YOU COULD UNDERSTAND!

    • You shouldn’t be talking like that even if it’s in Hungarian. By the way I am still using KDE3 with openSUSE 11.1 and don’t see why i couldn’t use it in the future.

      • Az a komment azért született, mivel a poszt írója kitörölte a korábbit, amiben meg mertem említeni, hogy milyen jó ötlet a kde alkalmazásait gtk-alapúakra cserélni.

  9. ¬¬ with “icon view” and go to “Dolphin settings”> “view mode”, change “number of line” to “1” and “grid arrangent” to “columns” and your done

    • How “intuitive”. Prior to that, a SINGLE-CLICK, preconfigured List/Compact view was available in: (1) Konqueror3; (2) Thunar; (3) PCManFM; (4) recent versions of Nautilus; (4) Windows Explorer.

      Now, in the “redesigned for the best” KDE4…

      …and then you’ll all be surprised by how well Win7 will sell!

      • you people have always something to complain about!. Make your mind up: either KDE4 is for “morons” or too little “intuitive”.

        Ok, if dolphin has buttons for icon, detailed and column view, what’s the benefit of adding a fourth for compact view?. Compact view is no more than a way of arranging icons on the icon view. It’s redundant. You have increase/decrease icon size on the main window so if there’s too many files in a folder finding one in the icon view is eased independently of icons being arranged in rows or columns; if you want to sort files by date, type… there’s the detailed view; and in icon view you can have files grouped by data, type, name…; if you want to navigate folders recursively you have “a la mac” column view. So, in the end, what’s the benefit for average Joe to add a default icon for “compact view”?. It wouldn’t help any more to find files . Sincerely, I don’t think dolphin or Konqueror has nothing to learn from thunar, nautilus or explorer. If I’d wanted to have those file managers arranged the way I have dolphin or Konqueror I wouldn’t be permited as they’re far less configurable.

        Btw, the only distro being widely marketed is Ubuntu, which by default ships GNOME. If windows 7 is to be a threat to Linux at the desktop, then GNOME, and not only KDE, is to be blame (as well).

        • Dear Miguel,

          Compact/List view is THE ONLY VIEWING MODE I am using with:
          — Thunar, PCManFM, and recently Nautilus;
          — Windows Explorer.

          I NEVER USE the Icon mode — except for older Nautilus versions and sometimes in Thunar.

          I OCCASIONALLY use Details — when I need sorting.

          So, if the cretinoid KDE4 developers have judged (as you do) “useless” THE MOST USEFUL MODE OF ALL, then… well, they’re a bunch of horse shit. Truly.

          • I’m telling you that you can set up in four clicks icon view to look and behave exactly as “compact view”. As you never use “icon mode” then it’s ok for you.

            GNOME devs decide which are the defaults and keep them simple and that’s ok, but when KDE devs do the same and at the same time they give user the choice to change the defaults, that’s not ok!, that’s being “cretinous”. With all due respect, quite a childish argument yours.

            • This is not about GNOME, this is about USABILITY and PROPER DEFAULTS.

              Windows had that view for about 12 years already.

              KDE3 had it in Konqueror.

              Now some crétins have changed it. WHY? (Ditto, because they’re stupid.)

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  13. Hmmmmm. So you’ve been trying to replace all of your KDE applications? Good luck.

    All you’ve confirmed there is that it is incredibly difficult to do, KDE has the best set of applications around and the best developer framework, all the alternatives are inadequate in some way and they only become moderately adequate when someone specifically creates a clone of a KDE application in GTK.

    I wish you luck on your quest, but most people when faced with that choice are going to stay with the best applications.

    • I wish you luck on your quest, but most people when faced with that choice are going to stay with the best applications.

      Well, as has been brought up before, it probably won’t be practical to stick with KDE 3.5 forever.

      That, of course, is what you meant by “the best applications”. Right?

  14. It’s hard to imagine that someone is moving away from KDE now that the DE and the apps are getting better and better.
    The only Gtk app that I am hanging on is Firefox – there is nothing in the KDE world that can match the Fox. Apart from that I used to use Evolution but then switched to Kontact and KMail without regret. Gimp was once unchallenged but that’s changing rapidly with the new DigiKam.
    Gnome is a good DE, no doubt about that but KDE is much better.

    • It’s hard to imagine that someone is moving away from KDE now that the DE and the apps are getting better and better.

      Really? I find it hard to imagine how so many people can be so amorous over KDE4 when every version of it I’ve tried (4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3) frustrates me so much that I give up on it within an hour or two.

      Gnome is a good DE, no doubt about that but KDE is much better.

      Ugh. I hate GNOME.

  15. Try Geany ( instead of Quanta.

    It’s light on resources and on par with features (your mileage may vary, it’s been a long time since I used Quanta)

    Good luck on, I think they are very outdated (tried it a year ago)

  16. The hardest part for me is to replace Amarok.
    Amarok has one feature that no other player has – album shuffle. I love it and can’t give it up.
    I know that also iTunes has that feature, but I ain’t touching that topic with a 10-foot pole.

    Though I might be wrong, too. I’ve searched far and wide for another *n*x player with album shuffle, but couldn’t find any good ones.
    Did anyone find this feature in another player?

  17. If you say that you don’t want to use KDE applications because you find other applications are better, I’ll fully understand and respect this point of view.
    If you say that you don’t want to use KDE applications because they use too many resources on your limited hardware, you have a fair point.
    But if you say that you don’t want to use Konqueor, only because it is a KDE application, and you don’t find another file manager that suits your needs, well … I cannot follow.
    Why the heck don’t you use the application that best suits your needs. I only applications that are in my view the best, I don’t care whether they are built using KDE or GNOME or GTK or Xlib

  18. From time to time I’ve used Ubu/GNOME, so I did kind of the same move. Some Ideas:

    – PIM: IMHO, Kontact ships with lots of apps (mail, calendar, notes, contacts, diary, rss) so Evolution is not a fully replacement. You probably have to add liferea or rssowl; gnotes or tomboy to the equations. I agree, thunderbird is probably a better alternative than evolution.
    – IM: probably empathy is good enough to replace kopete, and xchat, though simply, does the job
    – Web browser: probably the best option is ff if you go gtk, though I fallen in love with arora and opera
    – twitter/ client: gwibber, though I’m not happy with it
    -blog client: haven’t found one
    – video: hard one, totem is probably the best I’ve found but I don’t like it (think of kaffeine or smaplayer compare to totem). The same goes for audio: I haven’t found a decent replacement (I haven’t tried exaile that much). Sonata is a simplistic one but could be good enough. Bluemindo seems promising (haven’t tried it)
    – torrent: deluge or transmission; very decent apps indeed
    -images: I haven’t found any replacement for digikam and gwenview which are on par: theses ones are hard to replace, IMHO.

    Generally speaking, I found myself discontent with the GTK counterparts and ended using KDE apps on GNOME. Really, hope you finds yours.

  19. First off, i’m not gonna lie, i’m a KDE fan, always have been, and unless they change their direction I likely always will be. But with that said when I install a new Linux OS with KDE I often replace some of KDE’s apps. There was a period when I had 3 or 4 of every type of app installed, just to try them all out. That is the beauty of linux, options. Right now I use synaptic as my package manager since kpackagekit is still immature. Synaptic looks awkward in the KDE environment, but it works great and get the job done. Knetworkmanager sucks, so I use Wicd, which actually fits into KDE fine. I hate Konqueror as a browser, so I use firefox (and i’m waiting for the linux version of chrome, love that app). And since i’m used to msn messenger and have no use for aim or any other service support I use Emesene to chat. I don’t mind Amarok2, but i’m used to Songbird (and Itunes before that) so that what I use. For Video’s I use VLC mostly because it’s the only one i’v found that consistently plays any file every time.

    I guess what I can’t wrap my head around is why you would avoid a an ap that you are satified with, your used to, and has all the features you need? If you don’t like the direction that new versions are going then keep using the old one…a file manager is a file manager, it should still work for years to come. It sounds like you have a real hate on for KDE because they didn’t want to stagnate in KDE3. I liked KDE3…over 5 years ago, and even then I remember thinking that it was looking dated. Things have to progress and change, otherwise we would all still be using DOS or punch cards. The amazing thing about linux is that is is constantly evolving and changing, there will never be a point where linus or any distro goes “Well thats it, were done, it can’t get any better”.


    • Thanks for the comment, it sounds like you’ve been there too.

      I guess what I can’t wrap my head around is why you would avoid a an ap that you are satified with, your used to, and has all the features you need?

      Well, as I’ve said before, it won’t exactly be practical for me to stick with KDE3 forever. Sooner or later, I’m going to get tired of having to find a way to package it myself (since eventually there won’t likely be any distros still shipping releases including it).

      So I figure making a clean break right now is better than down the road.

    • Trent, why are you abandoning KDE right when it’s getting really good with v4.3?

      Man, am I getting tired of answering this really stupid and obvious question.

      Well, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

      KDE 4.3 still doesn’t come anywhere close to 3.5.10 in my opinion. And now I’m thinking that KDE4 never will. Why? Because of things like this. In short, because they don’t want it to be.

      So from my point of view, I’m abandoning KDE just when I need to be. The last good version of it already came out (3.5.10). I have tried every major release of KDE4 (4.0, 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) and I’ve given up on it. So if I want to continue using Linux, I decided that I will need to replace some of the applications in KDE on which I have come to depend.

      Heck, even KDE 3.5.10 spanks Gnome.

      Agreed! Gnome sucks.

  20. I recently found this blog and very much appreciate your ideas and discussions. I’d been forced off of KDE (to Windows) at home right before the switchover to KDE 4. So I’ve missed the entire set of issues. I expect to return to using Linux at home in a couple of weeks, and honestly don’t know whether I will like the new KDE. I spent my short time on Linux using KDE 3 (and 2). First serious distro was Mandrake Linux 8.0

    • I recently found this blog and very much appreciate your ideas and discussions.

      Wow! Thanks for the kind words!

      I expect to return to using Linux at home in a couple of weeks, and honestly don’t know whether I will like the new KDE.

      To be honest, you just have to try it and decide for yourself. Apparently a lot of people really, really, REALLY like it.

      And if you don’t, be careful about what you say on the subject. Apparently the KDE community is a bit touchy about criticism. Or at least the KDE4 fans are, anyway.

      At any rate, it’s really a matter of opinion. If it works for you and suits your needs, great! You definitely have something that’s under active development to use going forward.

      If it doesn’t work for you, well, you’re not alone. There are lots of us out here trying to find alternatives, and you’re welcome to join us in that.

      Thanks for reading!

  21. While I agree 100% with your reasoning (and dislike of KDE4), I’m not going to stop using the KDE apps that I depend on right now (largely the same as you- Konqueror, Quanta/Kdewebdev, and k3b are the 3 that I use every day).
    These will certainly be functional for another few years, and by that time either the 4 line will have the same functionality that the 3.5 line has, or other apps will advance to the functionality that I require.

    I hope 😀

    • I’ve gone back and forth a lot on the subject over the past 6 months or so. But I think KDE 4.2.4 being the default in Slackware 13 kind of pushed me off the fence. When Slackware of all distros jumps on that bandwagon, it’s time for a decision, so since then, I’ve been looking pretty hard at making a clean break.

      Obviously, it has to be the right thing for one before one can do that. For me, I just don’t like the prospect of waiting around, I want some forward movement NOW on it!

      KDE4 might be a KDE3 user’s dream in 3 or 4 years, but I don’t want to wait for it. KDE3 won’t be packaged in any distros in the mean time, and I don’t want to package it myself — I don’t have the know-how and I don’t have the inclination.

      So, for me, at least, it’s time to move on, which is why I wrote this. I’m mostly there, I think.

      And yeah, despite what I say, I’ll probably give KDE4 another try at some point down the road. Just not any time soon. 4.3 still didn’t impress me as something for which to leave 3.5.10, and I have my doubts that KDE4’s user interface paradigm ever will, frankly. But who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise those of us who have looked on the project with skepticism by adding a lot of functionality we miss.

  22. You know, the funny thing is, I feel like I really DISCOVERED the full power of KDE 3.5 just last night, when I decided to put Debian back on my Thinkpad, and installed it with KDE, rather than Gnome or Openbox. I started my Linux experience as a Gnome user, and have since moved on to the likes of Openbox, Xfce, LXDE, and fluxbox. But the power of Konqueror, and the various KDE apps really jived with me last night, and left me wondering why I hadn’t given it more time in the past. I finally gave up on Gnome because of bloat/slowness, and always figured that KDE was more so, but it’s actually quicker on my hardware than Gnome. So now I’m using Debian w/KDE 3.5, with fluxbox as a lightweight backup.

    • Thanks for the comment, John. 🙂

      So now I’m using Debian w/KDE 3.5, with fluxbox as a lightweight backup.

      Yeah, for me I’m still looking at a tossup between the next release of Ubuntu and a vanilla Debian installation for where my main desktop machine is going in the next month or two.

      Since right now it’s on Slackware 12.1, Debian seems like the option, but a part of me wants to give the next release of Ubuntu a spin on better hardware than my crappy 5 year old laptop, and that’d be a good way to do it.

      I dunno. I think at some point I’ll end up flipping a coin or something. 😛

  23. I too, am moving over from KDE to Gnome – your site has happened to give me all the answers I need… Just after I found them myself!

    Anyways… The question I ask is, have you seen the work going into Gnome 3 yet? I’m hoping it’s a good’un ’cause I don’t want to be orphaned from another DE 😦

    • Well, I’m actually not much of a fan of GNOME. Compared to KDE 3.5, GNOME really lacks a lot of options, configurability, flexibility… I’m a tinkerer by nature, it just drives me NUTS to open the “preferences” for an app (or a desktop environment) and see only a handful of paltry, basic things and NOT the dozens of options I’m looking for.

      So don’t misconstrue my article as a KDE fanboy jumping ship to embrace GNOME… I’m not. I’ve used GNOME (most recently in Ubuntu 9.04) and I can’t stand it. Compared to KDE4, GNOME is very usable, but that’s only by comparison.

      With KDE 3.5.10 out of the picture, my environment of choice is either Fluxbox or Openbox.

      Anyways… The question I ask is, have you seen the work going into Gnome 3 yet? I’m hoping it’s a good’un ’cause I don’t want to be orphaned from another DE

      I’ve looked at some of the early screenshots of GNOME 3. I’m undecided as yet what I think about what I’ve read/heard of the project. I’d be really grateful if they added a lot of configurability and options to it, because then I might be tempted to use it.

      But I’m in wait-and-see mode on that subject. I’ll give it a try when it comes out, no doubt about that. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned recently it’s not to get too dependent on any one desktop environment. If that DE leaves you, you end up kind of flailing in the Land of Abandoned Software.

      Sounds like you know what that’s like. 🙂

  24. It’s pretty hard to speculate on the future of either KDE or Gnome. While the KDE4 transition has had its pain, the next Gnome transition will be to the MS world of mono, via a developer takeover.

    As for me, I’ll stick with KDE, and we should all support making it better. After all, it’s easier to put some sugar on your oatmeal than to remove the vinegar that fell into it.

    • As for me, I’ll stick with KDE, and we should all support making it better. After all, it’s easier to put some sugar on your oatmeal than to remove the vinegar that fell into it.

      LOL! I’ll have to remember that one! 🙂

  25. Change is always difficult for those with entrenched habits. The question here becomes which is the more painful, switching to KDE 4 or switching to new apps.

    Personally, I feel the concepts behind KDE 4 are sound and, as the execution comes closer to the vision, I’m liking it better with each iteration.

    I’ll be sticking with KDE. The apps, after all, is where the work gets done.

    • Change is always difficult for those with entrenched habits. The question here becomes which is the more painful, switching to KDE 4 or switching to new apps.

      Good comment. Ultimately, of course, that’s part of what is behind every technology decision, isn’t it? “What will I have to sacrifice in order to move from A to B?” and, sometimes even more importantly, “Are those sacrifices worth it for the benefits gained in that switch?”.

      I made that evaluation on a lot of different levels and it was pretty clear that when “A” == “KDE3” and “B” == “KDE4”, the answers to those questions were “waaaaay too much” and “absolutely not”, respectively.

      As always, your mileage may vary.

    • I should add, I think there are additional reasons to stick with KDE. I believe the Qt toolkit offers intrinsic advantages over GTK+, (Andrew Binstock over at SD Times had some keen observations in this regard, not too long ago). Also, the Gnome embrace of Mono is troubling. While I think RMS may have been a bit hyperbolic in characterizing de Icaza as a “traitor”, (“dupe”, perhaps?), buddying up with Microsoft is a treacherous path to navigate.

      • I agree, the continued integration of Mono into GNOME is troubling. I’m not embracing GNOME by any stretch of the term, just because I’m rejecting KDE.

        Though with the distinct lack of choices in that area, it certainly doesn’t leave me with many options, doesn’t it?

        Linux being about “choice” and all, it sure seems like that’s lacking these days when it comes to desktop environments.

        • Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve been reading encouraging things about LXDE, though I haven’t had time to investigate.

          • LXDE, yes… I’ve played around with it. It’s a far cry from replacing KDE as far as functionality goes. Not to mention, (and correct me if I’m wrong here) I’m reasonably sure there are quite a few GTK+ dependencies to contend with there as well.

  26. You know, Trent, I’ve wondered about the sort of distro & app set you would get if you eschewed both KDE/Qt libraries AND Gnome/GTK ones. I’m sure there are more than a couple out there, but haven’t really had a chance to find out for myself.

  27. I am in a different camp from most of the responses I see here. I have used Gnome, and liked it. MC was good. I also liked the file manager in the Win 3 series beter than the one they have used since ’95. Maybe that’s why I like MC. I also use ls in Linux sometimes.

    I am looking at moving away from Gnome because of Mono. It’s not that I am afraid of Microsoft, it’s that I don’t like viruses. To really be compatible with MS, we will have to also be vulnerable to .net and ASP viruses. Gnome made a mistake there.

    I have found that XFCE is nice. I always liked the click anywhere option in Linux, since FVWM. I dislike all the ‘choice’ in KDE. I have been dissatisfied every time I’ve tried it. I want a simple desktop that lets me work without distractions. KDE users seem to be to be always fiddling with appearances rather than getting things done. That’s the trap I like LYX for avoiding.

    I do agree with you on VLC. It’s a good package.

    I hope that Gnumeric and Abiword can avoid the Mono trap. I like those better than the ‘standard’ OOo choice. It would be a shame to have to leave those too.

  28. I use several different desktops (KDE 4, LXDE, Gnome, and E17). I still use Konqueror as my file manager no matter what desktop. It offers functionality that no other file mangler does. KDE 4 turned me off at first, but I kept working with it and now I like it, not love, but timewill tell. E17 is great, until a build breaks something… It is in constant development, so breakage occurs more often than Debian Sid. LXDE running on Debianeee is what powers my asus 900 netbook. LXDE is spartan but fast.Gnome is OK, not very configurable, but we all know that. I burn my cd’s via the cli, mkisofs and wodim. I also listen to my music from the cli with sox and mplayer. Video is done with mplayer or vlc.

    Good luck on your switch.


  29. Ugh! I know exactly what you’re talking about!

    I’ve been looking for the perfect file manager for ages. Apparently, it doesn’t exist.

    I’ve been making do with thunar but it just isn’t adequate. There’s really no excuse for a modern file manager to lack any method of working with more than one directory simultaneously in the same instance.

    And I hate to tell you this, but unless the project forks, thunar won’t ever have tabs. The devs are psychotic about this. It’s like it’s against their religion or something.

    Seriously, they will bite your head off if you say anything about it. And I’ve never been able to get a straight answer why.

    They’re probably just as nuts about the delete dialogue. I haven’t had the courage to find out.

    But it’s the best I’ve found despite all that. I’ve got fluxbox set to automatically tab thunar windows together giving me some semblance of a tabbed interface, so that helps.

    I’ve tried about a dozen other file managers and none of them have cut it. I often find that I really like parts of them but they lack some key feature. I’ve actually seriously considered trying to write my own.

    But I don’t know any programming languages so that makes it a little easier said than done. Still, I have the time. I might try and make a go of it. It’ll be a crazy adventure!

    • Wow… you sound like you know JUST what I’m talking about on pretty much all counts.

      I only just discovered tabs in Fluxbox, I’ll have to try that. Seems like a better way to go. I had no idea the Thunar devs were that adamantly against tabs in their file manager. Weird.

      Well, all other things being equal, I’m actually considering PCManFM again (instead of Thunar), because even though it has the stupid delete confirmation dialogue, it at least does tabs, so it’s a leg up in that department.

      Thanks for the comment!

  30. What a rant.

    I don’t particularly like KDE4 at the moment, but I’ll stick with the KDE3.5 series for a while. It and it’s appliations will be around for a while.

    There are no valid alternatives for many of the KDE apps. I just don’t see the urgency, and the decision to change apps now is quite frankly a very poor one!

  31. I went through the same process after upgrading to KDE4, and discovering that there were more new regressions than new features. Stability was worse than KDE3.5. Simply running KDE caused a constant 15-20% CPU usage by KDE services (Plasma, mostly, even with all widgets turned off), which raised the CPU temp so that the fan was on more often. There was a lot more disk activity, even after turning off services like nepomuk (or whatever it was constantly trying to index my home directory). This was all horrible for my laptop battery life, but the final straw was the fact that kded would, randomly, go nuts and consume 100% of the CPU.

    Eventually, I tried other, slimmer, environments, including XFCE4, but it turns out that XFCE4 re-uses libraries less than KDE, and so ended up (ironically) consuming even *more* memory than KDE4, even though it was kinder to my CPU.

    Currently, I’m running xmonad, which is a tiling window manager controlled entirely by the keyboard. It consumes almost no CPU and very little memory. It is very definitely *not* user friendly; it took me over a month to finally get it set up the way I like. But I rarely have to touch the mouse now, which is a bonus, and my battery life is stellar. I got so used to it that I now use it on my workstation at the office.

    So, I entirely sympathize with you. By the time KDE5 is released, maybe they’ll have worked the regressions, annoyances, and bloat out of KDE4, and it’ll be worth switching back — however, just like this time, support for the stable release will stop and we’ll be back in the same boat.

  32. Pingback: Top Posts «
  33. I worry that you may be overreacting, as I did. It’s incredibly frustrating. Your Desktop computer is like a house your mind lives in, and someone is coming to switch around the furniture without asking you, and they keep telling you what great furniture it is. There’s a temptation to throw up your hands and shout FUCK IT! I’M MOVING TO TH E SLUMS!

    My point is that while New Konqueror is kind of half baked and overdone next to Classic Konqueror, it’s the closest thing you’re going to find to Classic Konqueror anywhere. In my opinion, it’s not that terrible, it’s just second best. And there have been some solid improvements in some applications. Kwrite, for example, and Dolphin has one feature that really excites me, the terminal window that automatically CDs as you click through directories.

  34. Plotting to kill a developer is contrary to the spirit of Free software, and if anyone intends to push aseigo to his death, please give me a heads up so I can be sure to have an alibi.

  35. Also, as we’ve discussed, I believe that we ARE going to be able to use Classic KDE forever, but the options don’t come without a price, and they may not be suitable for your full-time desktop.

    As I see it, if no distro intervenes, the best long-term options basically involve bundling the legacy desktop with the legacy operating system. This could mean an end to further developoment, but I don’t know for sure that it would have to. The live CD is the prototype. I’ve been experimenting with something called the virtual live cd, a read only operating system that installs applications to the ramdisk and has a writable home directory.

  36. Here’s my constructive ‘thing’ (again):
    Please, feel free to write on what areas you think KDE4 didn’t surpass KDE3. Exactly where do you think KDE4 fails. It’s not “kde4 fails on usability”. That says absolutely nothing.

    I’m so sick of these guys giving me homework!

  37. Trent, if you’ve got a gigabyte or more of RAM, I urge you to try what I’m doing, which is hacking a KDE basd live CD (or sometimes, a live CD image from the hard disk) to run software packages that I’m keeping on my hard drive and installing to the RAM drive with a script. I’m running Slax 6.1.2, with all the packages from Slackware 12.2 on my hard drive, and I can run any I like. I mount a hard drive partition as /home, and my settings are retained. It’s Slackware, with KDE3, and with the added security of a read-only core system that clears itself out with each reboot.

    More on this as it develops. Unless a better option comes up, I think I’m eventually going to bundle it all up and seed it with bit-torrent, and I’ll write about it in the outkasts forum. I wouldn’t want to tell you what to run, but I won’t hesitate to tell you what I think you should try, as long as there’s no risk to your current data.

    It’s surprisinglyu robust, and it looks, feels and acts just like Slackware 12, and frankly, even from the live CD, this is running better on my machine than Slackware 13, which kept freezing up no matter which KDE was installed.

    I’m sure it’s just one solution. There are probably a dozen ways in which you might continue to use classic KDE, with and without a fork. As far as forking KDE is concerned, I’m game, but I’m not going to be able to do it myself, and there are only 8 members in the forum. Finding a solution I could utilize myself has been the natural place to start. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve got a secure, powerful way to continue using KDE3 for (maybe) as long as I like.

  38. Hi,
    concerning Xfe (v 1.32 for now), if you right click on the file list, you can still paste files using the Paste menu item. You can also use the Panel submenu, or you can press Control while right clicking to see the Panel context menu…
    Hope this helps,

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