Four, then

I decided to give KDE 4.1 a go on my current Ubuntu (Hardy Heron) install: There are many sites around with instructions how to install KDE on your Gnome-enabled installation, so I won’t go in too many details. The idea is to add specific Kubuntu sources to apt, log-out by choosing a different window manager (using a different session, particularly if you plan to keep Gnome) and then log-in as usual.

You still need the install applications of course: So, you may want to look for Konqueror (Firefox works OK, but, will look ‘GTK-ish’), Amorok (audio) and Kaffeine (video), KPhotoAlbum and yes, digiKam: Kubuntu uses the (KDE specific?) Adept application to install 3rd party software.

I’ve used KDE 2 and 3 in the past: KDE 4.1 is generally impressive but still shows inconsistencies so once in a while. For example, during the first startup, a default Folder View shows up empty (Desktop): The point (apparently) is that you’re supposed to drag your frequent used applications in there. There are other quirks, like non-hideable panels (what?) and that widget stuff: uh, don’t count on it working too well because, on the overall, it doesn’t feel thought out.

If you can live with that, there are a lot of excellent applications for KDE. Amarok feels like a work of love and makes all those Gnome music players look like Windows 3.1 applications. Kaffeine looks (a lot) less boring than Gnome’s ‘Movie Player’. Konqueror feels fast, but, be forewarned that you probably have to muck around with settings: for example, GMail refuses to work in Konqueror unless you set it to send the ‘Mozilla 1.7′ or ‘Safari 2.0′ identification strings. This is not entirely Konqueror’s fault: Google itself doesn’t (officially) support Konqueror.

Earlier, I was already surprised about Gnome/AWN’s minimal system requirements. The same is true for KDE 4.1: it runs excellent on the current system (a 512 MB Centrino based laptop with one of those crappy GMA video cards).

Some tips

Mouse

If you work on your laptop, KDE’s mouse behaviour is weird at least: it ‘feels’ jumpy and is worst than the mouse behaviour in Gnome. The only way I got around it is by setting the pointer accelleration to high and the pointer treshold to half that amount of accelleration (you can’t set this to 0!). Currently, I’ve found out that an accelleration of 9.0 and treshold of 5 works comfortably.

Keyboard

KDE Key Description
CTRL ESC Process list
CTRL + Zoom in
CTRL - Zoom out
CTRL F1-F12 Switch to your twelve (!) desktops
CTRL W Close
ALT F1 Open KDE menu
ALT F3 Open Window menu
ALT F3 Open Window menu
CTRL ALT DEL TAB ENTER LOG out