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12/3/2007
03:46 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Want To Try KDE 4 Now? Go Live

There's been more than a bit of buzz circulating in the Linux community about the upcoming release of KDE version 4, and there's also more than one way to try out the release candidate -- such as a live CD.

There's been more than a bit of buzz circulating in the Linux community about the upcoming release of KDE version 4, and there's also more than one way to try out the release candidate -- such as a live CD.

So what's so special about KDE 4?  A bunch of things, to put it mildly, and I'm still sorting through them all myself.  There are a few standouts, though, which I'll tick off here.

The first and most interesting is the fact that the code has been ported to the Qt 4 library, which makes it possible for KDE to be used as a Windows desktop shell.  That's something I plan on trying out at least provisionally on my own.  Open source isn't just about Linux, and frankly I've been curious about how well a third-party open-source desktop that spans platforms could do.

Second is the revised look and feel for the desktop, Plasma, which looks a lot cleaner and more refined than previous iterations of KDE.  I'm tempted to say "more Mac-like" or "more Vista-like", but maybe it's just best to say that it appeals to me a lot more than KDE 3 did.

The other main thing (part of which is derived from moving to Qt 4) is an attempt to make the whole environment perform faster and work with some new desktop customization and integration functions.  One idea I like a great deal is called Phonon -- a way to make KDE talk to any number of different multimedia frameworks.  I see this as being a way to, for instance, allow applications to be independent from any one particular media pipeline -- they can just talk to KDE, and KDE can talk to the pipeline itself.  This way, a user can have the benefit of choosing the media foundation they want to work with most and not have to worry about whether not a particular app needs to be rewritten or recompiled to work with it.

There's a few ways you can get your feet wet with KDE if you haven't already.  One of the most foolproof is to snag a live CD of KDE 4 and boot it -- either on your machine proper, or in a virtual machine.  The openSUSE folks have a live CD, and so do the Debian KDE4 crew.  It's a cleaner and far less potentially knotty way to try out KDE without actually installing it, even if you aren't actually running it right on your own desktop.

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