Friday, June 27, 2008

Taking a Closer Look at KDE

I actually have a lot to report, but I'll have to get to it bit by bit in more than one post. For the moment I'll stick to one topic - my renewed interest in the K Desktop Environment (KDE). To review, Linux distributions can come with different desktop environments, even if the same file structure lies underneath. This is a very foreign concept to users of computer systems like Windows or Mac (which is like, everybody) that might allow you to change things like fonts and color schemes, but if you really want your computer to look and act a different way you have to buy a new computer (or at least upgrade operating systems). In Linux, there are choices that are just not present in proprietary software programs.

As faithful readers of my blog may recall, I added KDE to my regular Ubuntu installation, just to give it a test drive. Since I have so far generally preferred Ubuntu's default desktop environment (called Gnome), I didn't want to keep KDE and all of its many programs installed, so I worked tirelessly for a few days to remove it. I have since been satisfied with Gnome and KDE just hasn't been on my radar until several things happened over the last couple of weeks.

First of all, my poor Ubuntu laptop, which my wife had claimed as hers, died a pitiful death as it gave me chilling messages like "kernel panic!" Fortunately (miraculously), I was able to save much of my wife's data - she's a student so there was a lot of important information on there. (Take this as a cautionary tale to back up your data regularly!) As a replacement, we bought a new laptop running Windows Vista, which meant I was able to offload my wife's Windows data from my desktop and shrink the Windows partition (the mechanics of which I will note later). After some thought about how to use the freed disk space, and some conversations with a new co-worker who prefers KDE, I decided to install Kubuntu, which is Ubuntu with KDE as the native desktop environment.

Here's a screenshot of my new desktop:

I've decided I'm going to try and live and work in KDE for a while, just to get to know it better. I'm told it's the favorite of many Linux users, including Linux kernel author Linus Torvalds. I'd say that's a pretty good recommendation!

I'll report more as I form opinions about it.

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