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KDE3 and KDE4 for openSUSE

September 10th, 2008 by

As Zonker announced yesterday (and I copy some lines from his message), the KDE team has decided to take the following course of action after receiving a great deal of feedback on the issue of KDE 3.5 inclusion in openSUSE 11.1 – and state of KDE 4.1:

  • KDE 3.5 will be part of the DVD media for openSUSE 11.1, though space constraints may require to slim the package selection for 3.5 slightly.
  • KDE 3.5 will be included in the main selection page under “Other Desktop Environments” (during installation).
    This way new users will learn KDE4 directly and those users updating from a previous openSUSE release will not see this dialog at all.  Those that want KDE3 to install anyhow will still be able to easy install it.
  • We encourage and support contributors who are interested in maintaining KDE 3.5 for future releases of openSUSE, however the Novell employed part of the KDE team will shift focus to maintaining the KDE 4 packages for the openSUSE releases after the next one.
  • While KDE 3.5 will be on the openSUSE 11.1 media again, KDE 3.5 will not be included on any 11.2 “official” media or repositories, but the community certainly has the option of creating live CDs with KDE 3.5 packages for 11.2.
  • The Novell KDE team will only be addressing high priority bugs for KDE 3.5.x from this point forward. Again, this does not preclude community contributors from supporting KDE 3.5.x, and we encourage them to do so.
  • We will work on an easy migration from KDE3 to KDE4 desktops so that settings and data will persist.  This has already been started for openSUSE 11.0 and will continue to get improved.

We’d like to thank all the people who helped provide constructive feedback while we evaluated the best course for the next release of openSUSE. While we know that no solution is guaranteed to make every user happy, we think that we’ve reached the best compromise for openSUSE 11.1 and beyond, to ensure a smooth transition.

With openSUSE 10.3 we started are move to KDE 4 – with the usage of some KDE4 games and later an online repository for KDE 4 -, and openSUSE 11.0 includes both KDE 3.5.9 and KDE 4.0.  Other distributions like Fedora, KUbuntu and Mandriva have switched to KDE4 only already.  So, with these changes openSUSE 11.1 might be the only current version of a distribution that includes both KDE 3 and KDE4 – but openSUSE is also the only distribution that included both versions to give its users a choice.

KDE3 and KDE4 Applications

We will continue to ship KDE3 applications and their needed libraries if needed.  Decisions about specific applications  will be done during the KDE IRC community meetings based on rules like a) has not been ported or b) the KDE 4 version is not mature enough.

Right now the list of applications that are still KDE3 applications includes amarok, digikam, kaffeine, konversation and k3b – and we’re keeping them until stable KDE4 versions have matured for openSUSE users.

KDE and Features

Some components of KDE4 have been rewritten from scratch or significantly altered from KDE3. As a result, there are KDE3 features that have not been implemented yet in KDE4 or have not been ported. Some of these features are now added back based on user feedback.

So, if you miss a critical feature, file enhancement requests to reprioritize the work the KDE developers are doing (see
the openSUSE wiki).  Since the KDE developer team is limited by time and resources, this might mean another
feature will not get implemented.  So, the preferred solution is to implement the feature yourself but I’m aware that not everybody is up to speed for that.

On the other hand this also means, that KDE4 is not KDE3.5.  KDE4 will never have exactly the same functionality – it will have many features that 3.5 does not have and therefore be an improvement over KDE3.  It will also not have some of the more esoteric features of KDE3 that few people want.

KDE4 reevaluates the feature set and experiments with a different way of providing the user with the features s/he needs. This means that some features might not be available in the same way like they used to be with KDE3 – and
they never will be. Users are encouraged to play with the new usability and give constructive feedback, so that the overall experience becomes better for new- and for experienced users.

Call for Contribution

The KDE developers are now maintaining two different desktops: KDE3 and KDE4.  The same guys that so far worked only on KDE3 are now looking at KDE4 as well.  I’m asking for volunteers to help with improving the KDE user experience of openSUSE in the following areas:

  • Bugfixing – both KDE3 and KDE4 bugs
  • Packaging – both KDE3 and KDE4 desktops
  • Testing, especially of the KDE4 desktop
  • Development of new features for KDE4
  • answer questions about KDE on mailing lists, forum, IRC and help users with KDE problems
  • help with tracking features
  • bug triage: verifying bugs and upstreaming bugs
  • creation of Live media (thanks Carlos for starting the KDE3 LiveCDs!)

Another more detailed list by the KDE team is also in the openSUSE wiki.

Discussions about KDE

The openSUSE wiki KDE pages have some section about communication, the most important means for
discussion of KDE issues are the opensuse-kde mailing list and the openSUSE-kde IRC project meetings.

Major features missing in KDE4.0 and 4.1

I found these features and problems have been mentioned as major missing features in KDE 4:

  • hiding of task bar
    This is fixed already partly for KDE 4.2  Bug#420653.
    The KDE team commented in the mail thread that they will backport this to the openSUSE KDE 4.1 version once the upstream fix is complete since it’s the number one missing feature
  • Plasma stability
    Benji said: “It seems to me that if a single plasmoid crashes then it takes all of plasma with it. I can’t work out how to get usable backtraces from plasma to file bugs for these. I’ve tried installing all the -debuginfo packages I could find but still have no symbols found in  backtraces, and I can’t be bothered to install from source at the moment.”
    Will answered: “Yes, plasma is all in one process at the moment.   However it should be debuggable like any other process.  kdebase4-workspace-debuginfo, kdebase4-runtime-debuginfo, kdelibs4-debuginfo and libqt4-debuginfo should be all you need to debug it.”
  • Plasma doesn’t play nicely with twinview/xinerama
    Benji: “Probably an nvidia-driver bug but my default desktop always looks like this http://bw.uwcs.co.uk/kde411/first_start.png , Plasma doesn’t seem to know where the screen boundaries are. Oddly enough kwin4 has no problem with this.”
    Bug#413268 - and something that the KDE developers plan to look at.
  • Configurable global keyboard shortcuts don’t appear to work yet in 4.1.
    (Bug#: https://bugs.kde.org/160892 https://bugs.kde.org/165441)
    Lubos is working on this and expects to have this fixed for openSUSE 11.1.
  • Performance with nvidia’s proprietary driver (affects newer NVidia aards like Geforce 6600 an up)
    This is already much improved in the current beta and AFAIK NVidia is continuing to optimize for the xrender operations used by plasma.  I’ve heard about big improvements with 177.67 with the GlyphCache etc. tweaks, and hope that a final driver will be out when 11.1 ships.  Other than that there is not a lot we can do.
    In general: Performance tuning has, to a large extend, not yet been done, so improvements can be expected in the future. Regarding desktop effects the focus was to get  the implementation correct first. Performance tuning is easier if the full source code is available, however we recognize that a large userbase can for whatever reason not avoid using binary-only drivers where their performances, characteristics are not documented, and will incorporate any improvment that helps with those drivers.
  • support for different wallpaper on every desktop
    The upstream discussed solution is to have an option to have Plasma activities and virtual desktop in sync (in number and current one shown.
  • drag and drop support from the desktop to file manager
    This should be fixed in KDE 4.1 already.

Work Items for the Novell KDE developers for openSUSE 11.1

For reference, these are the tasks that the Novell engineers are working on – and they do need any help they can get:

  • Packaging KDE 3.5.10
  • Packaging and bugfixing KDE4.1
  • backporting from KDE trunk to the openSUSE KDE4.1
  • Migration of user data from KDE 3 to KDE 4
  • Rewrite/porting of apps from KDE 3 to KDE 4, e.g. knetworkmanager

If you like to see anything else, the KDE engineers are more than happy to mentor other engineers so that they can help with these or others task – and they will take packages and patches and help integrate them.  But they cannot drive other features.

The KDE team has on the openSUSE wiki a wishlist for 11.1.

KDE3 for ever?

If anybody likes to maintain KDE3 “for ever”, then this could be done as a community project in the openSUSE Build Service.  I’m sure the KDE engineers will help to get this started with answering any questions that the owners will have.

KDE4 outlook in openSUSE 11.2

For openSUSE 11.2, we will have for sure KDE 4.2 or even KDE 4.3 (the roadmap of openSUSE is not set in stone yet).  The Novell KDE team currently plans to work on the following areas but will discuss this further once openSUSE 11.1 has been released:

  • rewrite or porting of applications from KDE 3 to KDE 4
  • Integration of telepathy into kopete (decibel project)

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One Response to “KDE3 and KDE4 for openSUSE”

  1. Andrew

    openSUSE 11.2 should be released along side the time line of KDE 4.3 which is scheduled to be released on the 30th of June 2009 and not use KDE 4.2.x. This is being discussed in many suse / linux forums around the internet. KDE 3.x should be dropped and packages that users may use should be placed on repo’s or sites like Packman and not the CD/DVD. Longer forward to 11.1 and SLED 11. Keep up the good work. :)