I have been reading more complaints by the day, primarily from bloggers (some of whom I suspect are not even full-time Linux users) that KDE 4 was a complete mistake and should be scrapped. Some have likened it to Windows Vista. Others have even suggested that KDE should be forked so that the KDE 3.5 line will remain alive.
As someone who has been using KDE 4.1 (a Beta version mind you) on my production system for quite a few weeks now, I am wondering what the big fuss is really about. No doubt, I agree with some in that KDE developers should have not called a “work in progress” “4.0”. That is misleading. Heck, Google keeps things in Beta for years. The word “beta” is in fashion to the point where they could just always have “Beta” after any KDE release and it would probably attract users.
Therein lies the problem. This time around, “still in development” was a literal warning, not a modest display of humility. The KDE developers warned everyone that 4.0 was not ready for production. Certain distributions, such as Kubuntu, took heed and left KDE 3.5 as the main desktop, offering 4.0 as an option.
If a distribution left KDE 4.0 as the only option, that means KDE 3.5 applications were no longer available. There is no question that certain applications are much further along than others. Dolphin, the file manager, for example is very stable and feature-rich, whereas most of the KDE-PIM applications are still under heavy development.
With both desktops still installed, one can use KDE 4.0 as the desktop and still use some KDE 3.5 apps without any decrease in performance and with no difficulty. That is drastically different from an operating system upgrade. There is no problem with compatibility between 4.0 and 3.5 apps. Therefore, comparing it to Windows Vista carries little weight.
I think those who hate KDE 4 can be placed into four categories:
1. Those who just dislike the new features (plasma, krunner, etc). That is fine. Everyone has their opinion.
2. Those who actually did not use KDE anyway and are just making noise for the sake of making noise.
3. Those who are not very patient and/or not very good at making things work for them (They were used to using KDE 3.5 which “just worked” out of the box — KDE 4 will eventually reach that stage, but it is not quite there yet).
4. Those who miss their favorite component fromKDE 3. Some people especially miss the “kicker” (KDE’s desktop panel), but a lot of them miss it for the strangest reasons. For example, someone mentioned that he did not like that plasma does not have the various options for different types of secondary panels. My response to that is, how many people actually used any of those secondary panels? I’ve seen plenty of KDE desktops and have seen very few, if any, who used the “Mac OS” menu bar or any of the other available features. Having a feature only for the sake of having it only leads to bloated software.
I for one think KDE 4 is coming along nicely. I am in love with plasma. However, I will be the first to admit that it has some way to go, as did KDE 3 when it was first released.
The truth is some people just hate change, but change is going to come with or without them. That is the nature of this world and is certainly the nature of technology.