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Switching to KDE

Gnome 2 is and was the greatest. Highly efficient and everything just works. Gnome 2 atop of Debian, which also just works all the time, was and is fantastic.

But alas, though Gnome 2 is still in Debian Stable squeeze, it’s no longer in development so will die eventually.

I’ve thus decided to be pro-active and switch to KDE. There’s of course other interesting desktops, such as LXCF that I use on older computers, but I also maintain computers for family members (and introducing people to Linux when I can) so I don’t want to have to be configuring everything all the time or fixing bugs. So Gnome 2 was great for this purpose, and I hope KDE can fill those shoes.

Though I’m not specifically against Gnome 3 or unity, it’s probably a lot better for new linux users or people who mostly do single-tasking, so hopefully Gnome 3 and Unity will bring more people into the Linux fold, which can only be a good thing.

But for intense multi-tasking it seems like KDE is taking this road so I feel I might as well jump on board now, while I can still fallback on Gnome 2 in a pinch.

It’s also great to have a fairly modern KDE 4 in the Debian stable repositories, since on my work computer I only use a newer version of everything to correct serious bugs.

Thoughts on KDE so far

I’ve always liked a lot of things in KDE every time I’ve checked it out now and again ... but I always hit some strange bug or missing feature which brought me back to Gnome 2, which has always been bugless for me. Since it’s not like Gnome 2 did any particular, rather it’s great since it does nothing and does it well, leaving you to work.

But now with KDE 4.x things seem to be consolidating, and I seem to be able to get my work done without random things disappearing (or the network not working etc.).

KDE positives


Kate is really awesome for programming. Intelligent color/bolding of things based on the language your programming, and the options to change essentially anything.

I used Kate in Gnome 2 as well, but it takes a long time to load up (as it has to pull all the K libraries), so for quick edits I generally used Gedit, which ok ... I guess. So, it’s good to have Kate open instantly.


I’m not going to lie, widgets are good.

The Desktop widget prevents crazy proliferation of files on the Desktop eventually overlapping each other and rendering the Desktop useless to keep track of small things you should take care of ... someday, and on that day it’s because the file happens to be on the Desktop that you remember anything about the issue.

The unit conversion widget’s fairly handy as well as the RSS feed. Monitoring system resources you may as well pop on there as well.

There a paste widget for pasting things, so far only using the default generating random passwords but I may find other uses.

You can also download plenty of widgets, but I haven’t gone through them yet.

Differences to watch for

So far the biggest difference has been finding the keyboard and show-desk top icon.

I need to configure the keyboard to be able to switch to French layout, in Gnome 2 it’s under "Keyboard", in KDE it’s under "Input devices",.

The show-desktop icon you have to right click on the panel where you want it and add it as a widget. Though on the newer version of KDE it’s there by default.

Things I don’t like

Multi-Desktops tabs make no sense

Biggest problem is that when you switch desktops the tabs at the bottom don’t switch, which defeats the purpose of multiple desktops.

I do a lot of crazy multi tasking, and like to organize each task on a different desktop so I can easily switch back and forth depending on what I feel like accomplishing at any given moment. Generally I don’t close windows at all until I close the computer.

So having all the tabs shown on each Desktop is a fairly big drawback.

But this maybe configurable, or accomplished through this "activities" concept which at the moment I haven’t checked out what it does or how it works yet.

Update: minimized windows resolved!

Took surprisingly long to find how to change this beharviour though it was right infront of me.

Problem is that there’s "computer > system settings > desktop" which I assumed would have the option. It has the option of different activity on each desktop, which allows a different set of widgets on each desktop, which is interesting ... but it crashed continually ... and it still maintained the minimized windows on all desktops.

The key is to close all your windows, right click on the now empty bar and choose task-manager settings. Then under filters select "only show tasks from current desktop". You can also turn off grouping by program which just complicates things in my opinion.

File browser weird

By default the file browser shows temporary files, and doesn’t show "last modified" column in details mode. I assume it can be configured somehow or is "fixed" in the next versions.

Remote-server bugs

Connecting to remote servers with fish seems a bit buggy, sometimes it says I can’t save ... and other times it opens folders but doesn’t show the content. Don’t know if it’s really a bug or whether I’ve configured something wrong, or whether it’s fixed in newer version, will report when I understand more.

Only real complaint so, but not annoying enough to abandon the KDE attempt so far, works most of the time.


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