News

First Look: KDE 4.2 Windows Version

KDE (K Desktop Environment), based on the Qt Framework, is a desktop solution for UNIX environments. Still, many KDE users have wished that popular KDE applications could be ported to Windows. I tested the latest version of KDE, released in late January, to test this proposition.

Could KDE applications such as Kate (a powerful and versatile text editor), Konqueror (a WebKit-powered browser and file manager) and Amarok (a rich, full-featured audio player) be made to run on Windows XP?

In the past, incompatibilities with the Qt widget framework used by KDE had made porting applications to Windows impractical. However, rewritten libraries used in KDE4 have made running cross-platform applications a reality. For the purpose of the test, I chose KDE 4.2 since I wanted to test the improvements made over KDE 4.0 and 4.1.

Installing KDE4 on Windows XP is fairly simple. A nice installation utility will fetch the source code from a mirror server. It then compiles the code for you and installs it. This process may take an hour or more, depending on server load and the components you choose to install. I installed everything except for extra language packs I didn't need. The installation process took about 45 minutes for me.

After the installation, the KDE applications will be available in your Start menu programs list. They are sorted much the same way as they are on a traditional Linux system, with categories such as games, office, education, multimedia, etc.

Launching programs from the Start menu will cause them to run like normal Windows applications. However, if you want to see the full KDE4 environment, you will need to invoke Plasma (the KDE desktop rendering engine) manually. There is no launcher for this, but running C:\Program Files\KDE\bin\plasma.exe (standard installation path) will cause the KDE desktop to be superimposed over the normal Windows desktop.

When I ran the KDE desktop, I noticed that the KDE taskbar did not work properly. I had to ALT+TAB to switch between applications.

Although getting KDE4 working on Windows is an impressive feat, it is not very usable in its present state of development. KOffice consistently crashed for me and just wouldn't work. The Amarok 2 beta music player was very glitchy. Some applications (such as Kate, Konqueror and Dolphin) worked surprisingly well.

However, KDE 4.2 on Windows was unbearably slow for me, even for the applications that worked. That alone severely hinders the usefulness of this release.

This release should be regarded as a proof-of-concept. Due to the KDE port's incompleteness, slowness and instability, users should not consider it for production use. However, the KDE development team should definitely be commended and encouraged for their attempt at porting KDE to a new platform.

Beyond Windows, the KDE tools are very useful in their native environment. Users who wish to experience them should try out a Live CD, such as Kubuntu, that uses KDE4 or the still popular KDE 3.5.

KDE 4.2 can also be downloaded for free at the KDE project page here.

About the Author

Will Kraft is a Web designer, technical consultant and freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, check out his blog at http://www.willkraftblog.com.

comments powered by Disqus

Featured

  • Uno Platform Ports Windows Calculator to Linux

    Uno Platform has ported the famed Windows Calculator, open sourced last year, to Linux as part of a continuing "proof point" effort to demonstrate the reach of what it describes as the sole UI offering available to target Windows, WebAssembly, iOS, macOS, Android and Linux with single-codebase applications coded in C# and XAML.

  • ASP.NET Core OData 8 Preview Supports .NET 5, but with Breaking Changes

    ASP.NET Core OData, which debuted in July 2018, is out in a v8.0 preview that for the first time supports the upcoming .NET 5 milestone release.

  • VS Code Java Team Details 5 Best Dev Practices

    Microsoft's Visual Studio Code team for Java development added a new Coding Pack for Java installer and detailed best practices for setting up a development environment.

  • Binary Classification Using PyTorch: Defining a Network

    Dr. James McCaffrey of Microsoft Research tackles how to define a network in the second of a series of four articles that present a complete end-to-end production-quality example of binary classification using a PyTorch neural network, including a full Python code sample and data files.

  • Blazor Debugging Boosted in .NET 5 RC 2

    In highlighting updates to ASP.NET Core in the just-launched second and final Release Candidate of .NET 5, Microsoft pointed out better debugging for Blazor, the red-hot project that allows for C# coding of web projects.

Upcoming Events