KDE 4.4 Beta: Incremental Doesn't Mean Directionless: Page 3

Posted December 10, 2009

Bruce Byfield

Bruce Byfield

(Page 3 of 3)

In other words, if you choose, you can de-centralize, leaving the browser behind and remain in the highly customizable desktop environment instead. The result feels less constrained than doing all these activities in the browser -- and, because many of the widgets are well-designed, often easier as well.

At the same time that 4.4 makes good on Nepomuk and the social desktop, it also introduces the concept of sharing widgets over a network. I suspect users will have mixed reactions to this feature: while the potential for collaboration and information sharing are obvious, so are the potential security risks. Nor are those risks fully addressed by having sharing turned off by default, especially since the difference between the choices of “Share this widget on the network” and “Allow everybody to freely access this widget” may not be clear to everybody.

Still, KDE developers deserve full credit for this imaginative new feature. It should be intriguing to see how it is received and evolved in upcoming releases.

Incremental with a Difference

After the KDE 4 series became usable with the 4.2 release, I expected the pace of development would slow down. And, to a great extent it has -- but not nearly as much as I expected.

You may not agree with everything that KDE has done in the KDE 4 series. At the very least, you might have reservations about some aspects of its features. But, even if you judge some of its experiments to be failures, KDE still seems to have a sense of direction that GNOME and other interfaces have yet to match.

Alone among desktop developers, KDE seems to have grasped that the free desktop is no longer trying to equal the proprietary ones and that the task now is to imagine what the computer desktop could become. This perception gives KDE a sense of direction that makes its releases more interesting right now than just about any other free and open source software project that I can think of.

Nor is KDE 4.4 an exception. I may not like everything I see in the beta or how some features are implemented, but I am looking forward to the final release so that I can use it on my main workstation.

ALSO SEE: 51 Open Source Tools to Protect Your Identity

AND: The Linux Desktop: Nine Myths

AND: 49 Hot New Open Source Applications

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Tags: open source, Linux desktop, KDE, KDE 4, desktops

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