|Razor-Qt: Main Screen + Right-Click Menu|
There's a new kid on the DE block, and it's called Razor-Qt. It aims to be a lightweight, traditional-style DE, sort of like KDE, Xfce, and LXDE. The best way to put it is that it aims to be to KDE what LXDE has been to GNOME; it is stripped-down and manages the desktop in a more minimalistic way, but it is still compatible with KDE and Qt applications, just as LXDE can still take GNOME and GTK+ applications just fine.
I am trying Razor-Qt as a MultiSystem-made live USB in the form of Ubuntu Razor-Qt Remix. Follow the jump to see what it's like.
After the boot menu and a blank boot splash, I was greeted by the KDM login screen. Although this is a particular implementation of Razor-Qt in a distribution and won't apply to Razor-Qt as a whole, it's good that the developer used a nice login manager rather than something like a terminal login screen. After that I was greeted by the desktop.
|Razor-Qt: Razor Desktop Edit Mode|
There are two problems though. One is big: the desktop switching applet on the panel seems to be completely broken, in that using it (though switching virtual desktops using other means works fine) causes the whole desktop to disappear save for the desktop background (which for some reason changes from the default selection that is first seen upon logging in to the default pick for KDE 4.6). There is no recourse; twice I made this mistake, and my only options were either switching to a different terminal using 'CTRL+ALT+F1' or forcing a cold shutdown by holding down the power button.
|Razor-Qt: Razor Tools + Razor Panel Menu|
The big deal about Razor-Qt seems to be the tools, called Razor Tools, used to configure it. I'll go through them one by one.
The first tool I saw was to set the desktop background. This is a tool that seems to have been written specifically for Razor-Qt, and it's really simple and minimal, but it works fine.
The second was to edit the desktop. This makes the words "Razor Desktop Edit Mode" appear on the screen in big blue letters, though it is possible to continue using other applications in the meantime (as I am doing as I write this). This shows blocks representing the different widgets that can be configured or removed from the desktop, and there is a menu to add new widgets, though there aren't many widgets available in all. Unfortunately, configuring the widget requires the importation of already-made configuration text files, meaning that sort of like Openbox, if the user wants to configure Razor-Qt beyond the extremely shallow tools given, coding of text files is required. Also, I had to manually right-click and uncheck "Edit Desktop" to get back to the normal desktop view, which is slightly cumbersome.
|KWin: Dolphin + Desktop Cube|
Right now, the Razor Appearance Configuration dialog can only change the icon theme, and as far as I have seen, that change doesn't happen at all. That needs to be fixed soon.
The Razor Configuration Center is just a small program that acts as a gateway to the other Razor Tools. I feel that unless Razor-Qt really makes a commitment to remaining stripped-down, the Razor Configuration Center will contain more than just the 4 shortcuts it contains now.
The Razor Mouse Theme Configuration dialog is just a program to change the cursor theme. Confusingly, in the Razor Configuration Center, it is called the Razor Mouse Configurator, which initially led me to believe that it would actually configure the operation of the mouse, but then I remembered the presence of the KDE System Settings program to do that. I do hope that the developers make the naming a little more consistent, though thankfully the discrepancies are minor.
Unfortunately, at one point, opening a few of these at the same time caused a pretty major system slowdown. Thankfully after a minute or two this was resolved.
|Razor-Qt: Dolphin + Tabbed Windows + Desktop Effects|
The Razor Session Configuration program allows changing the WM behind Razor-Qt. In Ubuntu Razor-Qt Remix, the only available WM is KWin, so that's not much of an issue there. Also available are options to configure startup applications, defaults, and others.
In terms of being lightweight, Razor-Qt uses 220 MB of RAM at idle with no desktop effects. This is significantly less than fully-featured DEs like GNOME and KDE, comparable to Xfce, and a good deal more than LXDE, which I feel is its main competitor of sorts.
That's where my time with Razor-Qt ended. Although I only had a few problems in number, in scope they were pretty major. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for a newbie because it's still too new and too rough around the edges. (Maybe those edges can be razored off soon...? Hehheh. (OK, I'll stop.)) But for Linux users with a little experience troubleshooting problems and who can learn quickly enough to stay out of trouble (e.g. the problematic desktop switcher panel applet), I think this is a great new alternative DE that offers the power of KDE to people who may still be wary of the whole Plasma thing as well as of KDE's often-hefty resource requirements. I'm certainly going to keep an eye on this thing.
You can get it and find out more here.