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KDE 4.2 is still below beta quality

Posted 01-31-2009 at 05:51 PM by AGer

KDE 4.2 is still an alpha quality code. Code reaches beta quality when testers are required to find bugs. Anything with evident bugs is an alpha regardless of what it can do.

Since Slackware current testing readme tells us that KDE 4 will be probably merged into the main tree soon, I decided that it is time to check it out. In less than an hour I experienced the following immediately evident bugs:

Analog clock in the auto-hiding task bar managed to show up as a narrow elliptical face with 2 correctly drawn hands below it. Possibly it started to draw itself when the task bar, which is animated, was half way up.

The "5 days since new moon" pop-up generated by the moon phase plasma applet appears at different places, that is, not always immediately above the applet.

Pop-ups from the moon phase applet and task bar applets grab the portions of the desktop wallpaper below them and patch that on top of other windows. This does not happen during normal operation, just when I am wondering how the pop-ups and desktop switching work and click, switch desktops, and move windows vigorously.

The task bar auto hides itself while the mouse cursor is moving within its borders. Abrupt mouse movements from one applet to another make that more likely.

The World Clock applet stops reacting to mouse movements after "used custom time zone" is selected in its control panel.

An attempt to change the height of the task panel results in 3/4 of the desktop background going black.

Just in case somebody thinks "oh, all that worked fine on the developer's system": please do not write software in such a way that it works on one system.

I also noticed immediately evident usability problems:

The moon phase applet tells me how many whole days has passed since the new moon. This is absolutely useless because anybody interested in moon phase is interested in "which half of which moon day is it". Moon days are different from calendar days and computer help is required to calculate them.

The World Clock applet hides a beautiful map under an unreasonably large time label and the size of that label cannot be configured. There is a work around: select "show date" to make the label text longer and its font smaller. However, this reveals another immediately evident bug: the applet first displays a part of the label in the same big font and only when the mouse enters the applet the font is adjusted.

There are system monitoring applets that monitor everything but memory usage(!). No comment to avoid profanity.

Phonon is better with multiple sound devices, but I cannot call that a step in the right direction. I guess sound is no different from any other shared resource and all that a player should be able to do is to select a sound sink (predefined elsewhere unless we want a really complex dialog), exactly like another app selects a file to write to. Once again: a sound sink, something linked to mixers, filters, recorders and the like, not a choice between alsa/oss/aRts or whatever. The "hey app, please tell what kind of an app you are and the system will figure out where to direct your output" approach is brain dead.

Dragon Player plays the first file OK, but asking it to play another one is risky: it may display garbage like an analog TV out of horizontal sync or double image looking like an interlace problem. With gXine apparently similar problems can be cured if "Overlay" is specified as the preferred video display method, but Dragon Player has no configurable options.

As expected, "enable desktop effects" disables windowed video and scim setup fails to provide scim.

And the final and the greatest complaint: KDE 4.2 is noticeably faster (disclaimer: on my hardware) than 3.5.10, looks better, is easier and more fun to use, and Dolphin is the first file manager other than MC that I agree to use regularly, meaning that I will suffer from these and all other KDE 4 problems from now on because I switched to KDE 4.
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  1. Old Comment
    You took the time to write this blog post. I jolly well hope you took the time to file these bugs you're describing in the KDE bugzilla.

    Otherwise, your words are in vain.

    P.S. I've personally found KDE 4.2 to be a lot more stable and bugless than you imply. It seems you're going on a bit of an unfounded rant. Also, your claim that KDE 4.2 is alpha quality code is preposterous.
    Posted 02-17-2009 at 05:43 PM by socceroos socceroos is offline
  2. Old Comment

    Preposterous and in vaid - I doubt

    Originally Posted by socceroos View Comment
    You took the time to write this blog post. I jolly well hope you took the time to file these bugs you're describing in the KDE bugzilla.
    I did not file any bugs. I file bugs when I feel that I have discovered something that the developers should know but are likely to not know unless I report it. When there are lots of evident problems I do not bother to file bugs.

    Originally Posted by socceroos View Comment
    Otherwise, your words are in vain.
    I do not think so. From time to time I run over Linux faithful who sincerely wonder why so many people still use Windows. They should know what other eyes see looking at the same Linux.

    Originally Posted by socceroos View Comment
    I've personally found KDE 4.2 to be a lot more stable and bugless than you imply.
    Stable - yes, provided you do not do reckless experiments with video. Bugless - ha! "More bugless than you imply" - possibly yes, I do imply the worst case scenario.

    Originally Posted by socceroos View Comment
    Also, your claim that KDE 4.2 is alpha quality code is preposterous.
    Preposterous - no, maybe just deliberately choosing the old school meaning of "alpha". You know, there are people called beta testers who are getting money for beta testing beta quality code. Nobody pays to discover that which is evident. Thus, if there are evident problems - it is alpha.

    Just to double check, I visited the KDE Bugzilla. KDE is close to beta, but is not there yet.

    Now I would like to add some more of unfounded rant, but I have to log out - I checked if a newer ATI driver helps with desktop effects and accelerated video. It helps, but the Desktop Effects configuration screen got crazy and I always reboot before digging into configuration files.
    Posted 02-28-2009 at 02:58 PM by AGer AGer is offline


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