KDE 4.6.1 Almost Perfect

by Susan Linton - Mar. 14, 2011Comments (17)

KDEWhen KDE 4 was released, I hated it. It seemed a lot of my favorite customizations had changed, moved, or been removed. It was heavy and a resource hog. It didn't seem to work real well, things were either slow and crashy or didn't function properly. Subsequent updates did little to help. Until 4.6.1. I think KDE 4 is finally maturing into a stable and usable interface.

I got a new computer sometime during KDE 4.3 or 4.4 with a Quad Core processor with eight gigabytes of RAM and an NVIDIA 9800 GTX. Even that wasn't enough to run KDE with desktop effects and the new search engines. The first thing I didn't upon a fresh install was disable those. But even then if I had too many Konqueror windows open, the system ground to a slow crawl. One of the most annoying bugs was the overlapping taskbar application task indicators. Sometimes they'd overlap so badly as to hide one app behind another another. I hated that curly in the upper right corner that seemed to waste space. I had trouble with Kdict that didn't seem to pull in full definitions if it worked at all and gone was the nice panel-embedded textarea. If you had too many windows open, the taskbar list would extend beyond the screen space and it was impossible to get to them (beyond a right-click which sometimes caused a slip of the mouse and closed of all the windows). It took forever to get used to the Kickoff menu, which I didn't really like because of all the extra clicking around it required to find anything. Don't even get me started on PulseAudio.

Now I've never cared for the GNOME look or operation and was hooked on the K apps. I tried to make do with other desktops and Xfce with KDE support and using KDE apps came close, but no cigar.  So, most of the time I just suffered with KDE.

However, with each upgrade more and more issues were fixed. Kdict soon began functioning properly. I got used to the menu with a strong reliance upon the Favorites list. I've developed a tolerance for the curly and can successfully ignore it unless I want to use it. A few releases ago the window indicators in the taskbar list began resizing smaller and smaller as needed to fit them all onto the screen.

More significantly though, the most annoying bug seems to be a thing of the past. With 4.6.1 it seems that the taskbar indicators no longer overlap no matter how many different applications I open and close. This is a major improvement for me and I'm a much happier camper now.

Not only that, it seems like there's been a significant performance boost this latest release. I can for the first time leave desktop effects and those semantic search engines running full time. Not only that, I can open up as many Konqueror windows as I need without a major slowdown. I can even leave TVtime running as much as I want. Plasma-desktop hasn't crashed once since upgrading to 4.6.1 either. Yes, I'm much happier now.

But it's not all perfectly perfect. I still miss being able to stretch one wallpaper across two monitors. I think having to set the wallpaper separately for each is a bit unattractive. Akregator is still too crashy to really use. Desktop icons are still ugly since being treated as a "plasmoid." However, you can rotate desktop icons and widgets all around now. It be more convenient if we could customize the desktop from System Settings instead of separately having to right-click the desktop and choose Desktop Settings. But that's it. That's all I can think of to complain about.

From where KDE 4 and I started, this is almost perfect. ...if we can just get them fix this wallpaper thing...

Mark Walker uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


KDE SC 4.6.1, code named "Helga", is the first in a series of monthly service updates and the first version "served mainly out of KDE's new Git-based development infrastructure". Changes include fixes for issues affecting the Okular universal document viewer, the Dolphin file manager and the Plasma workspaces. However, the developers note that the change log is incomplete – users can find a complete list of changes by browsing the Subversion log. All users are advised to upgrade.

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This release is a pretty stable except for the issues with kwin. kwin just begins to regress for no apparent reason and suddenly the systems becomes unresponsive. The only way to use kde is without using kwin.

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Would be interested to know which distributions your KDE experiences are with. I can't wait for KDE 4.6.1 to hit Gentoo's stable repo :P

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1. taskbar doesn't resize when you switch resolutions

2. battery applet is broken

3. powermanager is missing profiles

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Adam, much of this experience has been in Sabayon, but when I was having so many issues I tried several others too like Mepis, Mint, Mandriva... But Sabayon is working out real well for me.

I'm using Kwin but I'm not having any issues, anonymous. I don't know if the NVIDIA / Oxygen bug is still present, I almost forgot about it until you mentioned deterioration over time because the first thing I do is change my Windec and panel theme from Oxygen to anything else. If you use NVIDIA proprietary drivers, try that.

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I find it hard to believe that it has improved so much. Last time I tried was at 5.1 and it was unworkable. Had to go back to gnome on both my desktop as well as my laptop. Slowness, Apparently unnecessary CPU speeding and Plasma crashes were the most annoying of issues. I swore not to try KDE again until at least version 10.5. What distro do you use?

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KDE 4.6.1 is the real KDE 4.6 release. It has that major bugfix and also has a bugfix not featured in the changelog: previous to KDE 4.6.1, NEPOMUK was buggy and easily ate a core, without doing anything. That bug is gone: now you can use the full Semantic Desktop on any computer. Even a Pentium 4 or an Atom works great.

With KDE 4.6.1 installed, let's wait for KDE 4.7; that release promises to continue the break-neck innovation pace that was somewhat broken with 4.5 and 4.6. Telepathy on the desktop, Zeitgeist+NEPOMUK integration (yes, GNOME Zeitgeist, it proves that there is no NIH syndrome in the KDE camp), a completely new OpenGL 2.0 ES composition engine for KWin and a re-revamped PIM with Plasma applets, desktop connection and massive NEPOMUK usage across the board, are their planned features.

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The stories about KDE4 initial instability and low speed have have now grown to a full sized straw man.

What about addressing the real issues?

(1) The right click context menu was only partially re-instated after Linus complained publicly about it.

(2) The cashew nut in the upper right destop is still there.

(3) They have not stopped plasmoidizing the user b0ll0cks.

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I think it's quite incredible how we can be so picky about our software while OS X and Windows users are left flying in the wind. It really is outstanding that the KDE folks can come out with such an amazing modern product and keep their older users happy. I think it's a feat of software engineering, and they deserve a lot more credit than most people in the community feel willing to offer them.

Were in not for KDE 4, a lot of my friends would still be using Windows or OS X full time without having the pleasure of Amarok 2, Plasma, Krunner, Nepomuk, wobbly windows, etc. KDE 4 has got to be one of the best executed revamps in software history, seeing as how EVERYTHING changed. And now we have a much easier to develop stack of software that will evolve for years to come.

I think it's a very good thing, along with the fact that we can be so nitpicky that any software becomes 'almost perfect' for us. :D Nice, positive entry- thank you for sharing.

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Sound like it is finally a good time to check out KDE again. I haven't used it in years--since the switch to the 4 series began. I have been a happy GNOME user since.

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I lived through the heady days of 4.0.* but have stuck with it and whilst some might shout "fanboi", actually, I'm just an ordinary software architect at a big insurance company trying to my job in a pleasurable and efficient manner. KDE allows me to tune my desktop to be bland-but-cool and everything ** just works ** in a speedy and an uncluttered coolness that is rare in computing nowadays.

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I too did stick with KDE 4 from its beginning and mainly, as an IT individual, I understood and appreciated the goals and the road map behind the new Plasma framework. Initially, I had few problems here and there, which included missing feature that KDE 3.5.10 had, but never a show stopper.

KDE 4.6.1 is outstanding and my most favorite feature, among many, is the ability to switch between multiple Plasma GUI on the fly without any reboot or re-login and depending on the device I am using at the time. Currently, there are interfaces for Desktop & Netbook only and my understanding is that there will be one for Mobile devices and possibly could expand to others.

Your article is very accurate and balanced and unlike many on the Internet that are so biased they make one nauseous. For the benefit of others, it would be very helpful if you could write another article addressing the Netbook Plasma Interface. Keep in mind that, one doesn't have to have a notebook to run this interface and can be run on KDE 4.6.1 by going to

KDEMenu=> Settings=> Systems Settings=> Workspace Behavior=> Select "Work Space"=> then select the interface you want from the "Workspace Type" drop down.

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>Subsequent updates did little to help. Until 4.6.1.

Oh please... its bad enough we get this revisionist claptrap from SJVN who screamed bloody murder and then slinked back.

Like most sane people I know, I stayed on 3.5 until I felt v4 was ready.

You can debate for a long time when that was but it sure as hell didnt become usable just at 4.6.1.

Both my parents were switched at 4.3 and they were new to Linux.

>I got a new computer sometime during KDE 4.3 or 4.4 with a Quad Core >processor with eight gigabytes of RAM and an NVIDIA 9800 GTX. Even >that wasn't enough to run KDE with desktop effects

Now I know this is BS since Ive been running Kubuntu with full cube and other eyecandy on my sons Dell Mini 9 since Kubuntu9.

Your quad core with EIGHT gb of ram cant do what my Atom powered, 1gb netbook can?

My mom has been running KDE since 4.3 on her 2nd hand laptop, a craptastic Acer with CELERON.

Needless to say my 3-4 yr old desktop with duo-core simply flies with KDE.

Maybe, just maybe, you bought some crappy system because its unfathomable that you cant run desktop effects on a quad core and I CAN WITH A NETBOOK.

Either you got ripped off, you are clueless or you are lying... i fail to see another option

One last time just to recap:

You : quad core with 8gb ram

me: Atom chip with 1gb ram

One of us can run Kwin effects and one cant.

You tell me whats wrong with this picture.

(my time is split between E17, KDE and XCFE in case there is cries of fanboi)

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"You : quad core with 8gb ram

me: Atom chip with 1gb ram

One of us can run Kwin effects and one cant.

You tell me whats wrong with this picture."

What's wrong with that picture is that you seem to only care about the CPU and RAM, when the problem has to do with graphics. Little ignorant of the facts, aye?

Just because one person has a seamless experience and another doesn't, doesn't mean a thing. I've had similar issues with earlier KDE 4 setups as well, despite running top-of-the-line PC setups. I blamed these issues more on the GPU drivers than KDE itself, though.

It wasn't until 4.3 when those issues stopped for me, and that's exactly when I made the full switch from 3.5. Haven't looked back since.

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If you want a really good KDE 4.6.1 experience download the latest daily build of Kubuntu (11.04).


It's what I'm running right now, and even tho its in alpha stage, its completely stable as far as I can see (I think most of their work is going into the new Unity interface, which is Ubuntu only), hasn't crashed once, very fast, I find distros like Sabayon are too bloated.

I've tried multiple KDE distros but I always go back to Kubuntu, they maintain a "PPA" repo that always has the latest KDE version (so even Kubuntu 10.10 has KDE 4.6.1).

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We STILL cannot stretch a wallpaper across two screens? Bloody hell, how long will it take them to fix that regression?!

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I used to have KDE 4.4.3 on a Pentium 3 with a gig of ram and a Matrox video card and it could handle it with no effects just fine. And my laptop (Acer Aspire 5810TZ, 1.3 GHz 1core, 3gig RAM, Intel GMA x4500) has been handling KDE with full effects since v. 4.3! My new computer (2x dual core Intel Xeon @ 3.2GHz, 3gig, NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT) has been handling it beautifully since 4.4.5. It does seem that KDE doesn't like the NVIDIA drivers all too much but other than that I can't complain in the slightest. It's always been very fast, completely usable, and extremely stable for me. All of my expriences with it have been on Debian Sid tho, that might have something to do with it. Overall though I love KDE 4.6.1.

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