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A little healthy kompetition

June 8, 2010 8 comments

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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The Three Faces of Fedora 11: Epilogue

June 19, 2009 6 comments

During the course of the week, I had been asked the following question in various forms (the “forms” being a mangling of the desktop’s initials): “What about LXDE? Are you going to discuss the ‘fourth face’ of the Three Faces of Fedora 11?”

Well, the answer is: Not right away. Though very appealing and a desktop that has piqued my curiosity, LXDE was not part of the Fedora 11 constellation this time around (key words here: “this time around”) — neither was it an offering on the regular distro nor was it a “spin” (the spin list is here). However, I have the instructions on how to get going with LXDE, and I promise to take it for a test spin in the next couple of weeks.

Watch this space.

As for the “three faces” blog series, it’s always a joy to do blogs like this because a.) I get to play with software I normally wouldn’t fiddle with, and b.) I get to find out a lot of stuff that I didn’t know in the first place (look up “lifelong learning” in the dictionary and you’ll see my picture).

For those of you who are curious, and even if you aren’t, I think I’m going to break ranks with my GNOME roots and primarily use KDE on Fedora 11.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: Fedora, GNOME, KDE, Xfce Tags: , , , , ,

The Three Faces of Fedora 11, Part 3: Xfce

June 18, 2009 10 comments

I have to confess that in writing this blog item about Xfce on Fedora 11, I’ve had divine inspiration. I mean, really divine inspiration, as in as high on the divinity food chain as you can get.

Jesus wants everyone to use Xfce. He said so here on my Facebook page two days ago:

openjesus

So who am I to argue with the Son of God?

And you might think this is the last word on this — He would, of course — but bear in mind you’re dealing with Larry the Free Software Guy, who always tries to get in the last word.

So while Jesus and other diety are paying attention to Texas or Iran or something else, I’ll try to get this in: Fedora 11 using Xfce 4.6 — say it with me here — is probably designed for older machines and/or machines that may not have as much memory as newer ones. But I’ll go one further: F11 with Xfce absolutely flies on machines that are not so old, like this one, even after adding a whole plethora of software and running multiple programs at the same time (like, say, OpenOffice, Gimp, Firefox, Bluefish and Tux Paint all open in one desktop, all performing as if none of the others were open).

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog — those two or three of you outside my family — know that I’ve always been a big fan of Xfce. Herding old hardware like I do, it’s normally what works when 256MB is as high as you can go and you want ol’ Bessie to actually be able to do something. So imagine putting this lightweight desktop on something more substantial, hardware wise, and it’s like putting a 426 Hemi in a golf cart.

Of all the things native to Xfce that are of special note, two stand out: Ristretto, which is a lightening-quick image viewer, and Mousepad, which is like Leafpad but can actually print (I’d certainly like that afternoon back where I tried to print something from Leafpad, but that’s another story). It accompanies the usual array of solid, steady Xfce programs like the Thunar file manager and the ubiquitous calendar Orage.

Think of the Xfce desktop as I do: Like a racing car, it has only what is necessary to make it go, and in this case, go fast; no extras and no frills. If you want the bells and whistles and “optional features” like a luggage rack and the chrome trim, you may want to use another desktop. But Fedora 11 using Xfce certainly takes the checkered flag.

Tomorrow we’ll take a brief look at the “fourth face” of the Three Faces of Fedora 11 — LXDE — and have a wrap-up.

[Whew. Got that in before the Son of God had a chance to render me completely mute and speechle

[FSF Associate Member]” hspace=”3″ vspace=”3″ width=”88″ height=”31″ align=”right” /></em><em><span style=(Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

Get Linux Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Greens Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button debian dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge Fluxbuntu button gNewSense button Linux Mint Wolvix XubuntuEliminate DRM!

Categories: Fedora, Xfce Tags: , ,
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