Home > Fedora, GNU/Linux, KDE, linux, Linux, OpenOffice.org, Xfce > A little healthy kompetition

A little healthy kompetition

June 8, 2010

As previously mentioned in this blog — and as I tell anyone who’ll listen to me — I go back and forth between the two top desktop environments with Fedora on my Fujitsu laptop — the even numbers, as it turns out, have been GNOME and the odd (with nothing to read into this, honest) have been KDE. Since we’re now at Fedora 13, it’s KDE time.

For those Xfce, LXDE, Fluxbox and IceWM fans out there, I do have machines in the Jungle Room — the lab at Redwood Digital Research in Felton, Calif., named after the same room at Graceland — running those desktops. While I’m a huge fan of Xfce on the machines that run it, I normally don’t stray too far from GNOME and KDE.

Moving right along, though, in those instances where I use KDE on the laptop, I’ve always been impressed with the number of programs that KDE includes when downloading the KDE version of Fedora. This time around, it occurred to me that maybe I should give some of them a chance — rather than just downloading the programs I’m used to (OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.) during the post-install phase — I should give the K its due.

But I downloaded the programs anyway. I wanted to do a comparison to see how the KDE software stacked up against the software I normally use across a variety of machines running other desktops. Bear in mind, too, that since I use KDE only six months at a time, I am clearly not an expert on it, and if I’ve missed something, by all means I’m open to correction.

Before I start, I want to sing the praises for most of the programs I’ve run that are KDE-native, and single out a quartet of KDE-native programs — specifically K3b, Dolphin, KPackageKit and KColorChooser. The first three have always been very cooperative, have been easy to use and have worked well; the fourth came in handy recently in tweaking a Web site.

Conversely, there are KDE-native programs I don’t understand. The top candidate here is Kget — what the hell is that big bouncing disk doing in the center of my desktop? — and it begs the question: Why have it when you can use KPackageKit?

So, without further adeiu and with a little fanfare, allow me to wave the green flag on a comparison and contrasting of programs supplied by KDE against those that aren’t.

KWord/KPresenter vs. OpenOffice.org Writer/OpenOffice.org Impress: KDE gets an A for effort on this one. Though not as slick as the OO.o Writer, KWord does open other files and offers the option of exporting a document to a Portable Document Format file (a clear advantage that both have over any Redmond product) and it performs admirably when used. The downside of KWord is that you can only save a document in one format — albeit the most important one (.odt) — whereas with OO.o Writer you can save it in various formats, even if need be in WordStar (which is a Solaris holdover, I know, but still). OO.o Writer also has a huge library of templates for use.

KPresenter, however, stands shoulder to shoulder and goes the distance with OO.o Impress on usability and functionality, to the point where in the past I’ve actually given talks using my Impress file running, unbeknown to me until later, on KPresenter. Like KWord, the slickness factor is lacking in KPresenter, but all the trappings for making a great presentation are there.

Advantage: OO.o Writer clearly over KWord, but KPresenter and OO.o Impress tie.

Konversation vs. XChat: While I get a handle on Irssi, I should say that I’ve always been a XChat user. Go ahead and mock me with the training wheels jokes, but it has served my purposes well over the past several years, to the point where I never used Konversation when running the KDE desktop. Konversation v1.2.3, however, may eclipse XChat for my IRC purposes. Its ease of configuring is a huge plus, as is its putting action messages on the screen you’re in as opposed to in the server screen only (i.e., when you mark yourself away in XChat, for example, it appears only on the server window; in Konversation, it appears on the window you’re in — minor, I know, but enough to sway the simpletons like yours truly).

Advantage: Konversation (but we all know that Irssi is what the cool kids use).

KMail vs. Thunderbird: I have used Thunderbird since it’s inception. I like Thunderbird. No, let me rephrase that: I love Thunderbird. So analyzing this one may not be fair, but using KMail to get my fedoraproject.org mail on the laptop has been a pleasant surprise. One feature that takes getting used to, but is logically sound and advantageous once you get the hang of it, is that KMail will nest responses to e-mails, tree-like, under the previous topic’s message. To me, it was disconcerting at first, but once I got used to it, it becomes a huge time-saver in following e-mail threads. Being able to see the details of an e-mail by running the cursor over it is also a plus.

Advantage: Thunderbird, because we have a history, but KMail gets high marks and more than likely I’ll continue to use it after Fedora 13.

Konqueror vs. Firefox: I really want to say something nice, and find something I genuinely like, about Konqueror. Really and truly, and cross my heart, with all my being I truly hope someday to find something to like. But other than it’s an adequate file manager and document viewer, it really stops there and I can’t say much more for it. Meanwhile with all the other browsers out there — coupled with the fact that KDE comes with Dolphin (a file manager) and Okular (a document viewer and an outstanding program that, unfortunately, I had nothing to compare it with) — Konqueror seems to be just a niche browser compared to others.

Advantage: Firefox, by default.

Meanwhile, you can still go get Fedora 13 here. And don’t be afraid to go try the KDE spin, if you’re thinking about it.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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  1. June 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Nice post, Larry. I haven’t followed KOffice in a long time and am glad for the update. Nothing but ODT in KWord? It used to do .doc in the 1.x days, if I remember correctly. I used to really like KWord – I ran it in Slackware 12.0.

    Like you, I was a Thunderbird user. But recently I decided to give Evolution a try after avoiding it for years. Turns out I really like it. It runs great, looks great (better even than T’Bird 3), and it was easier to configure with the difficult-for-me IMAP settings for my mail accounts with secure connections (Thunderbird always had trouble with my particular setup, but not Evolution).

    That said, I only use a traditional mail client for a couple of “minor” IMAP accounts. For my “big” e-mail account, I’m POP-ing the mail into Gmail – it’s just too easy and too good not to.

    For me lately, Firefox = pain. I’m not happy with the huge amount of CPU it grabs onto. I try to use Chrome/Chromium or Epiphany when I can. I did spend some time briefly in Konqueror (running PC-BSD 8.0). Not great, not bad …

    • June 9, 2010 at 10:02 am

      Thanks, Steven. See MadGenius’ post below about KOffice. Actually, I used Firefox just as an example — I know it can be a resource hog (bad for all the old machines I have here), and I haven’t taken the Chrome/Chromium plunge. I’m not too jazzed about Epiphany either, and maybe that would have leveled the playing field with Konqueror. But I’ve always found Konqueror very clunky and, as I said, I hope someday to find it an adequate browser which, of course, is up to the developers.

  2. MadGenius
    June 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Unfair comparison. The devs for KOffice have been saying that it isn’t meant for production work as yet. Wait for Koffice 2.3, and then compare to OpenOffice.

    • June 9, 2010 at 9:56 am

      Fair enough, MadGenius, and so noted. I’ll do this topic again when KOffice 2.3 comes out.

  3. June 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Koffice has lost a whole lot of momentum over the past year or so.

    What KDE needs is more must-have apps like k3b to drag people over. For me that would have been digiKam (and even Krita if it included the features that digiKam has), but I just didn’t like it as much as gThumb. I do like Kate and Kwrite better than Gedit, but Konqueror just isn’t as good, I think, as Epiphany or Chromium.

    I don’t know how KDENlive is doing, but that’s a space begging to be filled with a video-editing application that doesn’t suck.

    • June 14, 2010 at 6:53 am

      Er, no — KOffice rather _gained_ a lot of momentum over the past year. Thanks to involvement from KO GmbH and Nokia, importing foreign file formats has improved a lot. There are about 4500 fixes in KOffice 2.2 compared to 2.1 — and that excludes the 1500 fixes in Krita.

      Krita 2.2 is good enough to be used, but 2.3 will be the really end-user ready release. As for the rest of KOffice, that’s more a judgment call, but the developer community decided to focus on missing features and user-readiness during the last sprint, which was actually last weekend.

  4. June 9, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Great comparison.

    I would love to use a full Qt desktop in my Debian KDE, but this is not always possible, as you have said.
    OOo can’t find a rival in KOffice yet, and Konqueror is still far away from Firefox/Chromium.

    BTW, I’m sure that you will have to make a post about Rekonq soon, if you have not made it yet. It’s the future in KDE browsers.

    ; )

  5. Komac
    June 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    After years of using Ubuntu I have to say that lately I’m more and more attracted to KDE desktop. And it is exactly the apps that attract me to KDE. In general I find KDE apps to be a lot more powerful and nicer looking than the GNOME counterparts. K3b, Kdenlive, Kontact, Amarok, Digikam, Kate, KDevelop, Gwenview, Okular, KTorrent, Dolphin are totaly awesome. And even the games while not important are so much nicer. I haven’t yet heard of Rekonq but I sure will try it out. Oh and if you have kids, take a look at KDE Education apps, there is nothing like this in GNOME. As for KOffice it’s not year ready for me (KWord and KSpread), but KPresenter I actually like the workflow much more than in OOo Impress. And in general the user interface of KOffice is just brilliant. Looks awesome and layout is just perfect for todays widescreen monitors we have. And it is also much more customizable and I like how KOffice is small and fast compared to OOo. Oh and it also offers some nice app that I couldn’t find in OOo: KPlato for project management. When KWord and KSpread gain some features (tables editing/creating are sorely missing) I think I’m also slowly going to switch to KOffice.

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