7 Things You Can Do in KDE, But Not in Windows: Page 2

Posted September 2, 2010

Bruce Byfield

Bruce Byfield

(Page 2 of 2)

6) Creating Screen Edges Hot Spots

Following the lead of Symphony OS, KDE allows the creation of up to eight hot spots on the edges of the screen. Each of these hot spots can be configured to produce a different effect when you drag the mouse over them. For instance, you can use a hot spot to show the desktop, switch workspaces, or arrange open windows in a grid. You can have the option to maximize any window by dragging it to the top of the screen, or to tile them by dragging them to either side.

The one problem with screen edges is that the hotspots in the middle of an edge can be hard to find. Otherwise, the hot spots reduce the repetitive motions required to move windows about, and have no parallels in Windows

7) Desktop Effects and Compositing

When Windows 7 was released, Microsoft heavily advertised a handful of desktop effects called Shake, Peek, and Snap However, this tentative start did little to diminish the commanding lead that Linux in general and KDE specifically has in special effects. In fact, when news of the Windows 7 effects became widespread, the reaction of Linux developers was not envy, but to discuss whether they already had similar effects and, if not, whether implementing them would be worthwhile.

KDE is not the only desktop to have special effects of course. However, its effects stand out as being, for the most part, genuinely useful. While KDE's effects do include some eye-candy -- mostly to do with animation on the desktop -- many are genuine enhancements. A half dozen improve accessibility, whiles others make it easier to see which window is currently active or otherwise help with window management. Some of these effects require 3-D acceleration, but many do not, which, unlike some other compositing effects, makes KDE's usable by everyone.

Returning the Pity

Some of these features are not unique to KDE. In particular, virtual workspace-like activities are available on most free desktops, and other systems of compositing effects are becoming increasingly common. However, KDE is still one of the first desktops not to just to make these features part of the default install, but to integrate them in such a way that they change how users do their computing.

Nor is Windows totally without default features that KDE lacks. KDE requires neither defragger nor -- usually -- a virus checker -- but most of the distributions that package KDE do not include tools for backups and drive encryption, the way that Windows does.

The difference, though, is that such features are easily installable if you need them. As part of Linux and other free operating systems, KDE benefits from online repositories with several options for most needs -- any of which can be downloaded and installed in a matter of minutes without any cost. This system of software management makes the buying of software that Windows relies upon look inefficient and antiquated, even when you can download instead of going to the store. Consequently, although few default KDE installations include all the features of Windows 7, you can quickly download whatever you need.

Even more importantly, like the rest of Linux, KDE is released under a free license. Not only are the licenses involved more philosophically or politically desirable than Windows 7, but they also do away with restrictive license agreements and the nuisance of software activation.

With all these benefits, is it any wonder that I return the pity and caution that other people show when I mention that I use free software? The only difference is, my reaction is justified. The Windows users don't know what they're missing.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Linux desktop, Linux downloads, KDE

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