One Week With KDE : My Challenge

By | 2007/02/18

In response to all this recent nonsense about gnome vs KDE vs Linus vs everyone else that has jumped on this bandwagon I thought I would do the responsible thing and put the two to the test. I will use KDE for one full week and post my thoughts at the end of that time. If any of you have any tips for me an making that temporary transition let me know. Who knows, maybe I’ll even decide to stay. Below are a few questions and comments I have to keep in mind.

The last time I used KDE was in my Red Hat 9 days about 4 years ago. I have tried it off and on, but never longer than a day since. I have used gnome as my primary desktop since making the transition to Ubuntu with version 5.04.


Exchange Support. Does the default KDE mail client support Exchange the way Evolution does or will I need to continue with Evolution? (I know, I know, I have to use it for work.)

Feed Reader. I have been using Liferea. Is there another KDE specific reader I should checkout?

Firefox. Should I also try to use Konquerer during my stay or is FF good enough?

…that is all I can think of now. If I need help I’m sure I’ll make mention of it.

Again, I would love to hear helpful comments on giving KDE a solid try. I honestly want to see what I might be missing so lend me a hand. In an attempt to move away from the current flaming holy war if you do leave any kind of negative comments it’ll be promptly deleted. Wish me luck!

Update: I have added links to my daily thoughts & user comments below.

The switch to KDE : Day 1

The switch to KDE : Day 2 

The switch to KDE : Day 3

The switch to KDE : Day 4

The switch to KDE : Day 5

The switch to KDE : Day 6

36 thoughts on “One Week With KDE : My Challenge

  1. Robert Knight

    I cannot answer the exchange question, but as for the other two:

    – Akregator is the feed reader which comes as part of the KDE PIM suite. If you are using Kubuntu, you can either access it through the KDE menu under “Internet”, or start the KDE PIM suite ( Kontact ) using the button on the quick-launch area ( the buttons just to the right of the KDE menu at the bottom left of the screen) and select the “Feeds” section on the right-hand side.

    – Yes, you should use Konqueror for web browsing. Otherwise you will not be making use of an important part of the KDE desktop.

  2. ltmon

    Exchange: Never tried it, but mixed reports. There is a disclamer about it on

    Feeds: Akregator is plenty good enough. It will run standalone or as a Kontact plugin.

    Firefox: I use Konqueror mostly for the speed and better integration, but it isn’t as featureful as Firefox for web browsing. It’s file manager features (e.g. fish:// protocol, split views, embedded terminal, select-by-wildcard) are must have for me however.

  3. Josef Assad

    Evolution screenscrapes, afaik.There’s always fetchexc which does the same thing, but from the command line.

    Can’t say akregator is any better or worse than liferea.

    I tried konqueror for a while; it is pretty cool, but I got tired quickly of the many sites that were broken with it (which is in all likelihood not konq’s fault, since it passes ACID2 IIRC).

    Do yourself a favor and go WM for a month rather than changing DE for a week.

    When you do, aptitude install gmrun and give it a nice keybinding and you’ll be set.

  4. sam

    I know you probably prefer a feed reader app, but there are Firefox extensions for the purpose, as well as web-based readers if you’re not finding a suitable replacement. I love Netvibes myself.

  5. serhat

    You must try Akregator, it comes standard with Kubuntu desktop and any KDE based distro.

  6. Andreas Olsson

    I agree totally with everything already stated.

    Then I definitely think you should check out katapult. It is a wonderful utility to launch programs.

    When it comes to playing music I’m sure you’ve heard about Amarok. Really, really nice.

    It might be interesting to take a quick look at KOffice. It may not be up to OpenOffice at all levels, but on the other hand it runs alot quicker.

  7. eric

    Regarding Exchange: My school just switched over to exchange, and I was not able to get it working in KMail (I’d love it if someone can point me to a how-to on getting all aspects of exchange working in KMail, including the calendar and contacts), so switched to Evolution.

    Regarding Konqueror vs. Firefox, I think Konqueror is one of the best KDE apps, along with Kile (LaTeX editor). It’s true that some sites don’t load well on it, but the fast loading of PDF and PS files is awesome, especially when looking at academic sites. Also, the ability to have a site you’re downloading from in one tab and a folder open in another, and a shell at the bottom – it’s a great setup for installing programs.

    For what it’s worth, I was alerted to your blog post via Akregator. I prefer it to the firefox plug-ins.

  8. Miles

    Instant messaging > Kopete
    Music player > Amarok (& AmarokFS, worthy)
    Guitar tabs > KGuitar
    Video Editing > KDEnlive
    Burning CDs & DVDs > K3B

    You could also try KOffice. Katapult is also a nice little app (Alt + Space).

    The only problem with Kubuntu is that it is really buggy. I had never experienced so many bugs with other distros: random crashes, inconsistent taskbar, slow to boot, must log on twice before having a fully-fonctionnal desktop, and so on. Some other times, a random app asks me my sudo password (last time I saw this happening, it was KNotes).

  9. Paul Hoch

    I’ve been doing the opposite I guess. I have long been a fan of KDE but I grew tired of the fact that Kubuntu is not as “tight” as Ubuntu so starting with 6.10, I switched to Ubuntu and Gnome. That being said, I used Liferea, Evolution, etc. with KDE as they are superior apps. I see no reason that you have to give up some of your favorite apps just to switch desktops. There are plenty of other differences that you will either love or hate. Personally, I prefer Kate to GEdit, Konsole to Gnome Terminal but Liferea and Evolution to Akregator and KMail.

  10. Freddy

    I personally can’t use GNOME, not going to start a flame war but eh. Some useful apps, Knotes (Klipper is good too), Akregator (how I came to your site), Kmail or Kontact. KOffice does everything I need. I personally can not use Konqueror because I detest the middle mouse function (Middle Click Searches in contrast with Mozilla’s Close Tab / Scroll). I use Fx for web browsing and that all I need.

  11. Daniel

    I’d recommend going with KDE for a bit more than a week in order to get a more decent basis for comparison. It may take you a while to find your way around, so the first week could be more annoyances than benefits; obviously Gnome is nicer right out of the box for many people, but many people like KDE for being more customizable. So I’d say: use KDE until you feel very comfortable finding and modifying stuff, and then use it for one more week after that. I think that’s the only fair way to compare it with Gnome. I’ve bounced back and forth and like both just fine (as a Firefox/ Thunderbird/ Reminderfox/ VLC/ Bloglines user I’m rather desktop agnostic- that freedom is probably the main reason I gravitated towards those programs). One thing I do dislike about KDE that might give you problems: the arts sound system (slated for replacement in KDE4). I usually find a way to kill it so it doesn’t inadvertently mess up my sound (I’ve even gone so far as removing the arts file).

    Anyhow, perhaps it’s because I don’t use that many DE-specific programs, but I really don’t find Gnome and KDE to be very different (of course, I probably don’t use KDE to its maximum potential). Sure, I use Kopete in one and Gaim in the other, etc, etc, but overall, my experience is pretty much the same (especially if I’m using Beryl- in the absence of Beryl, I do think KDE feels a bit “snappier” on my box). I think the only time the system truly matters is if you have an older system with under 1 gig of RAM; then loading unnecessary libraries probably hurts more.

    In any case, if you haven’t already, I’d suggest becoming familiar with Katapult, Klipper, and Amarok, which are 3 KDE-related apps I do often find myself appreciating (although I use Amarok on Gnome too).

    Good luck, and enjoy!

  12. Amanda

    It takes a lot longer than one week to make KDE *yours* and have everything ‘just so’. I’ve been using KDE nearly a month on this computer, and GNOME is on the laptop. The laptop recently got KDE as well, and it looks terrible! I’d forgotten just how long it takes to make it great. Kontact is a must, it has everything. I use Konqueror for web & file browsing. If you have trouble with Kate (as I did, and had to permanently remove her), install kedit, which is great if you just need something really simple. Icons & fonts & wallpapers all need replacing, oh, and once you try Superkaramba, you’ll miss it terribly back on GNOME.
    Have fun, and well-done for not jumping on the bandwagon!

  13. saharvetes

    I don’t see why you need to switch to KDE or compare it with GNOME. The GNOME vs Linus discussion wasn’t even about KDE at all; it was about GNOME “enabling” the user versus crippling him/her by deciding options were too confusing.

    If you’re using GNOME happily and it doesn’t drive you to frustration at your inability to do things you want to do, then there is no need to switch at all. KDE *is* more cluttered and messy; don’t switch if you don’t need to.

    Every time a new release of Ubuntu comes along, I do a fresh install and try using GNOME for a while… in a couple of weeks I decide I can’t stand it and switch back to KDE. If GNOME works for you, stick with it. It certainly seems more consistent etc.; you probably won’t like KDE.

  14. TuxGirl

    Have you ever tried ditching both kde and gnome for a week (or longer)? I’ve tried out a number of different window-managers, including fluxbox, blackbox, etc., and I absolutely love evilwm (yes, I know you’ve probably heard me ranting about it before).
    I think there are a lot of window-managers out there for just everyone. For me, speed/efficiency are key considerations, for other people, other things are important.
    Generally, in my experience, you don’t realize what’s important to you until you try a number of options. I never realized that gnome and kde were both amazingly slow until I started playing with some of the other window-managers, and discovered what I’d missed.
    Anyway, that’s just a though 🙂 Maybe I should go post something to my blog now…

  15. montag

    Only two things:
    Give Kde a month, not a week!
    Try yakuake, it’s a must have for me…

    Good luck! 😉

  16. Nick

    As was already mentioned, Kontact has RSS feeds (Akregator component) as well as mail–and just about everything else.

    I dislike PIM clients myself, but Evolution is one too, so there’s no difference there. They seem to have arisen from the early days of office suites: you did your work in the word-processor, the spreadsheet, the database; information ancillary to your work–addresses, calendar, etc.–was dumped in another application. And when email began to make its way into offices, the email was built into the “everything else” app, as well. Now, of course, people are putting RSS feeds in there, as well. One might as well ask, “Why not instant messaging, too?” And I believe IBM _does_ do that in Notes.

    Worse things seem to be promised for the future of “everything else” apps!

    Certainly for home use I prefer separate applications: mail client, address book, and calendar, in the way of Mac OS X. (When on OS X NetNewsWire handles my RSS feeds, so that’s separate, too.) There’s too much crammed into KMail for my taste, and not every function works well in the same size and shape of window.

    For browsing, I like Konqueror. It’s a very nice browser, like Safari on OS X, whose rendering engine is, as you’ll know, based on KHTML. I’d certainly recommend using it. You’re only likely to encounter problems if you use websites (such as Google Maps or Yahoo Mail) that use AJAX. These tend to use a lot of Microsoft-specific JavaScript. Now Mozilla has implemented quite a lot of this, but not everyone else has. Besides, webmasters now have to pay some attention to Mozilla’s browsers; they don’t always put themselves out for browsers with smaller market share like Safari and Konqueror.

    So, yeah, I’d try Konqueror–it’s very nice and the *only* browser I’ve got on this machine–but be warned it may not work everywhere.

  17. Abhinay

    Hello 🙂
    Firstly, I’d like to appreciate the fact that you aren’t taking sides, or jumping blindly on the bandwagon.

    I personally prefer KDE because I can do more with it, but gnome is an excellent desktop, and is certainly less intimidating to the new user.

    However, as echoed by several others, I’d suggest using KDE for much more than a week. It took me a couple of months to figure it out, and get it working as I like, but now that I’m there, I’m quite satisfied.

    First off, I was quite thrown off by the default look, so I’d suggest installing the polyester style(apt-get install kde-style-polyester) and setting it.

    Now, for a terminal emulator, nothing beats yakuake. Its a must for me, but my friend abhors it! so you may or may not like it 🙂

    Thirdly, I took the plunge into using konqueror by defualt this year, and I must say, I’m more than satisfied. Its faster, light, and it acts as a universal viewer 🙂 I also love its file management view, and the fact that you can sftp to any site with fish:// or sftp://. Samba goes smb:// and so on…

    Kate is the de facto editor for me, and I cant really like anything else 🙂

    I still use Gaim, because I think its more polished, though I’m getting a bit bored with the number of betas, with too few significant additions. I’m more of a bleeding edge person than a stable one 🙂

    Akregator is a very competent feed reader, and I’m using it at the moment, with an embedded konqueror tab to write this message 😉

    I find KMail lacking a bit, and I prefer using it for POP access, rather than IMAP. It behaves a bit weirdly sometimes with IMAP servers(my mailbox gets full for no reason!) I thankfully dont have to worry about exchange.

    And then there’s Amarok. I cant praise this application enough! I’m sure you’ve heard all about it though 🙂

    I’d recommend staying away from Kword and the rest of KOffice for a bit. They’re not bad, just a bit underpowered 🙂 Krita is excellent though 🙂

    Nothing much else to add I guess! That pretty much covers the basics. Welcome to the wonderfully over-configurable world of KDE, and do give it more than a week 🙂

  18. Lure

    Exchange: I use KMail’s Disconnected IMAP to access company Exchange server + LDAP Contacts (with offline caching) trough Active Directory. Not sure what else Evolution provides for Exchange, but these are enough for my needs.

    RSS Feed: Akregator (standalone or as part of Kontact).

    Firefox: Konqueror is fast, slim browser with great integration into KDE. However, if you are used to Firefox and some of its plug-ins it may be harder for you to switch. Since you use Firefox on GNOME (and not Ephiphany), I would suggest that you stay with it (at least at beginning), but give Konqueror a test drive anyhow.

  19. Ryan

    I suggest if your switching you also look into Basket, the KDE note application. It does all sorts of cool and useful things.

  20. Fede

    From comment number 8: “I personally can not use Konqueror because I detest the middle mouse function (Middle Click Searches in contrast with Mozilla’s Close Tab / Scroll).”

    You can configure the middle button to close tabs as Fx does with the tips on that page.

    On topic, it’s pretty much all said. Konqueror is a great browser but there will be some few pages that don’t work. Regarding extensions, it already has built in the functions i used on Fx (mouse gestures, ad blocking, dom inspector, better tab configurability) but it’s true that until you discover some of those (mouse gestures are kde’s and not konqueror’s, so you activate them outside kde, for example), you feel lost without them.

    Akgregator is truly a beautiful feed reader and I love it. Exchange with Kontact is something I haven’t tried, so I can’t say anything about it.

    Be warned, as it’s been said, it takes some time to make kde behave as you wish, but for people like me who’ll rather have the desktop learn to work their way and not adapt themshelves to their desktop, it’s worth it. Have fun on your kde time!

  21. neurol23

    i recommend you to try krusader, knowit and tellico

  22. Lane Lester

    I’ve almost always used KDE during my years with Linux. But when I switched to Ubuntu, I decided to try Gnome without any KDE apps. So far the only things I miss are K3B, the Maximize Vertically option, and the standard X middle button copy&paste. The latter may be due to my not knowing how to enable it.

  23. klaps

    For video (and audio) playing, try KPlayer (with MPlayer).

  24. burnme

    Konqueror (with its tabbed browsing like firefox) and the KDE Control Center (kcontrol) are nice.

    Be sure to set your Gnome apps to display like KDE apps in your preferences section so they don’t look ugly.

    Once you go KDE, you never go back! Gnome is teh suck!

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  26. Lamont Peterson


    arts is not an issue with KDE. I haven’t been using arts for about 2 years now. There’s no nead to kill it, remove binaries, etc. It’s extremely easy to turn off. Just open kcontrol (KDE Control Center) and visit “Sound & Multimedia” -> “Sound System” and just turn it off. After that, all the audio just takes place directly with ALSA.

  27. Lamont Peterson


    There’s a lot of good advice. Here’s what I would say:

    Yes, KMail can supporte Exchange. I’ve done it once (a while back) but I don’t remember how I did it. Search for Exchange support on KDE & KMail websites.

    Akregator is fantastic. I keep thinking I might switch to a web based aggregator, just for the convenience of access it from lots of systems.

    I use Konqueror, mostly. I love the ability to make websites that say “you have to have ‘this’ browser and we’re not going to let you see anything unless you do,” think that Konq is the browser they want. 99 out of 100 times, Konq renders such sites perfectly. On ocassion, I run into something (usually related to complex JavaScript, but not AJAX, so far) that just doesn’t work right in Konq. I keep Firefox, Opera and Mozilla around as I do enough web stuff that I want them for testing. I develop so things work on Konq first and there’s very little work to get them working perfectly on other browsers. When I target some other browser first, usually it takes longer to get it working correctly on others, too.

    Spend a little more than a week with KDE. That way, you’ll get to just using it.

    KOffice is wonderful. It reads and writes the Microsoft and OpenOffice formats, consumes about 1/10th the memory of OO, runs about 5-8 times faster than OO and has more than enough features for 99.99% of users (do you use more than 5% of your word process or spreadsheet’s capabilities?). There are also several more types of apps available than OO has.

    I like Konsole much better than gnome-terminal. For one thing, it doesn’t have the kinds of bugs that have been in gnome-terminal for over 4 years and they still can’t figure out what’s causing them (like the black screen when creating new tabs, which was still happening on FC6 the last time I used gnome-terminal). Try “++” to create new tabs or click and hold the mouse button on the create new tab, tab. Use “++” to rename a tab. I love having a kssh tab without having to have a useless bash process underneath (not a big deal, but kinda nice). The “root” tabs are nice, too.

    Try middle-clicking a window’s maximize button. Try right clicking it, too.

    Have fun. I hope things work out for you in this experience.

  28. SubSónica

    Where Kubuntu has a really nice, coherent look and feel, I quitted it after using it for several months because it was a little sluggish, now I use Debian Etch, wich is not as much polished visually but which is much more flexible and feels lighter.
    Tip: If you absolutely need accessing Exchange from KDE you have two options:
    a)Use KDE but keep evolution as your e-mail client
    b)Go for a pure KDE shop and access Exchange via OutlookWebAccess aka OWA(I can do it from Firefox)
    Personally, I generally use web-based mail and Firefox from within my KDE box. I enjoy konqueror very much as a general purpose document viewer.
    As for Gnome/Gtk apps I can´t live without The Gimp, which I use from within Konqueror, and I recognize evolution feels better than Kmail, although Kmail has improved considerably and is very nice to use as well.
    Other good apps to use in KDE: Krusader file manager, KWorldwatch and Knotes

  29. SubSónica

    Where Kubuntu has a really nice, coherent look and feel, I quitted it after using it for several months because it was a little sluggish, now I use Debian Etch with KDE, wich is not as much polished visually but which is much more flexible and feels lighter.
    Tip: If you absolutely need accessing Exchange from KDE you have two options:
    a)Use KDE but keep evolution as your e-mail client
    b)Go for a pure KDE shop and access Exchange via OutlookWebAccess aka OWA(I can do it from Firefox)
    Personally, I generally use web-based mail and Firefox from within my KDE box. I enjoy konqueror very much as file manager and general purpose document viewer. I also like very much having KDE widgets inside web forms and I use it also for web surfing ocasionally.
    As for Gnome/Gtk apps I can´t live without The Gimp, which I use from within Konqueror, and I recognize evolution feels better than Kmail, although Kmail has improved considerably and is very nice to use as well.
    Other good apps to use in KDE: Krusader file manager, KWorldwatch and Knotes

  30. Derek

    Kontact & Exchange:

    I use Kontact to check my mail and calendar on a daily basis. (Calendar accessible by webdav://) The only problem I have is getting the address book to pull in exchange contacts. Any ideas? Does the exchange server itself have to be running something else like LDAP or is that taken care of by Exchange? I can’t for the life of me figure out how to connect to either my personal contacts on exchange or public contacts.

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