Monday, May 03, 2010

Using sidux with the newly updated KDE SC 4.4.3

I have been following the KDE 4 release with interest for quite some time now. When KDE 4.0 was first released, it was quite clear that it was a development-only snapshot. When KDE 4.1 was released, it was somewhat improved, but until KDE 4.1.4, it was still really only a development snapshot at best.

KDE 4.2 marked a significant improvement over KDE 4.0 and 4.1, but again, until KDE 4.2.4, I'd still call it a development release, though by around KDE 4.2.2, I found that I could use it at least for a few routine things.

During all of that time, I resorted primarily to XFCE 4.6, which has become a fine desktop alternative to KDE and GNOME. sidux happens to have one of the better implementations, at least in my opinion, of both XFCE and KDE.

The KDE 4.3 release marked the first KDE 4 release that could legitimately be called an every day desktop system, though it still has had a few issues. KDE SC 4.3.4 has been on my sidux system for a few months, though, and I have been using it reliably as my every day desktop system.

The Debian KDE team has not been releasing KDE updates with each monthly incremental version, and so there have been no snapshots between KDE SC 4.3.4 and KDE SC 4.4.3. As of yesterday, however, the Sid repositories began to be populated with KDE SC 4.4.3, and as of today, we now have Sid (and sidux) implementations of KDE SC 4.4.3 available. I am using it now.

At last, I consider this version complete. There are no glaring omissions and most features work as they were designed to work. Konqueror, in particular, of the "classic" KDE applications, is significantly improved, and it is now not only a great file manager, it is a respectable Web browser as well.

The Plasma desktop is nowhere near as bug filled as it has been in the past, and I have not found any recent problems with it at all. Moreover, the social networking aspects that are now built into KDE are functioning the way they were designed to work in the first place. Finally, speed and stability come together in this release.

Make no mistake about it; KDE SC 4.4.3 is a full featured desktop environment. As such, it is no lightweight, and it takes a while to fully start up, but I believe it is a bit snappier than in the past.

As far as other applications, the OpenOffice suite is also significantly faster and has stronger compatibility than any release in recent memory with Microsoft Office, so it is a true, capable alternative to MS Office.

The sidux implementation also works very well with Virtualbox OSE, better, in my opinion, than most other distribution provided versions of Virtualbox OSE.

What I find particularly useful with sidux is that I am able to have an easily customizable version of Debian Sid that does not behave like an "unstable" system. Volatile, yes. You have to be aware of what is changing, and sometimes you either have to wait a day or use a tool (I use smxi) to assist me in managing that volatility. But with the smxi tool, I find a stable enough every day environment that I am not forced into using less volatile, but much older, desktop systems. I do keep multiple copies of SimplyMEPIS, because it IS very stable and it is a nice environment, but for every day use, I find that sidux suits me just fine, as it has for nearly three years now.

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