Review: KDE 4.5

The Desktop with some Notifications
My last review of KDE 4.X was a bitter disappointment, as KDE 4.4 refused to work. Period. Follow the jump to see if this version of KDE works out any better.
The first thing I notice is that KDE 4.5 does, in fact, work. Yay! (A word of warning to anyone who wants to install KDE on top of another DE: do not use KDM, as it will cause problems.)
The Cube effect
The theme carries over largely unchanged from KDE 4.4. However, the most noticeable change is the superior integration of icons into the system tray — whereas before, icons used to look blocky and out-of-place, now they are all-white and more rounded, integrating better with the panel theme. Along with this comes better integration of GTK+ applications into the system tray, as well as better-looking (and less intrusive) notifications. Unfortunately, GTK+ applications themselves still don't integrate well with KDE, though this can be remedied by applying any one of the numerous GTK-to-Qt themes. On a related note, Firefox and OpenOffice.org still don't integrate too well by default, though OpenOffice.org at least shows icons (instead of blocks of text), and Firefox's integration problem can be solved by using the Oxygen KDE theme.
Desktop effects work well, and I now believe that KWin is pretty darn close to feature-parity with Compiz. KWin also has a side-by-side window tiling effect (that some people say was taken from Windows 7). Also, activities are now much more useful because one need not zoom out anymore to manipulate activities — the button to manipulate activities is in the "cashew" upper-right menu.
Firefox and OpenOffice.org tiled side-by-side
This is the first time that I've actually played with widgets for more than a minute. The weather applets have improved noticeably, as they now display more detailed information in more locations than before. The RSSNow and News widgets are handy, but I would like to see them automatically fetch feeds from Akregator (considering that otherwise, they are very well-integrated with Akregator). I would like to see some desktop blogging widgets added as well; the only widgets that are remotely related to this purpose are all for Twitter or Identi.ca.
A bunch of Plasmoids (widgets)
Surprisingly, there were no Plasma crashes. I think the KDE developers have finally gotten this stability thing down.
With GNOME 3.0 looking to experience the same issues as KDE 4.0, KDE 4.5 is a very easy-to-use, feature-filled, stable, and fun experience. I would recommend it for anyone who wants some more shiny toys on the desktop (because GNOME looks a little too simple); it's even available to try on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. I'll probably be using this for a while anyway.


  1. I've been using KDE 4.x for over 1.5 years and never had a plasma crash. Its been stable since KDE 4.2. You were probably using a *buntu. Yes they are full of bugs. Try Mandriva, OpenSuse or Arch/Chakra for a better KDE experience.

  2. What distro are you using? Ubuntu? Most of the problems you described, I've never seen in Mandriva.

  3. @Anonymous 1:
    I invite you to read an older article I wrote (and submitted to Linux Today) comparing KDE distributions; I did include openSUSE and Chakra, and neither of those distributions had problems.
    @Anonymous 1 and 2:
    I encourage you both to please revisit this blog in a few hours to a day or so. You shall be pleased!
    Yes, I've done most of my KDE testing in Linux Mint (which, I think, makes better KDE versions of the standard distribution than Ubuntu does, but then again, I'm using vanilla KDE as opposed to Mint KDE). That said, I've seen Plasma crashes in distributions like Sabayon 5.2, PCLinuxOS 2010.07, and SimplyMEPIS 8.5. While a lot of distributions do maintain KDE better (and as a result have fewer crash troubles), it is also partly a KDE problem which has been fixed.
    Thanks for your comments!

  4. I have had regular plasma crashes, on both Mint 9 and OpenSUSE 11.3. I've decided I generally like the KDE applications, but HATE the plasma desktop. They've gone off the deep end and desperately need some adult supervision.

    Even with KDE software, I've got major complaints against Akonadi integration, and to a lesser extent, Nepomuk. Kmail is getting crashier, and Akonadi is a bomb.

    I've moved to PC-BSD, who still offers a KDE 3.5 desktop that works well. I prefer KDE over Gnome, but given the choice between KDE4 and Gnome, my choice is now: Windowmaker or Openbox.

  5. @Anonymous: PC-BSD, as far as I know, offers KDE 4.4 right now. I haven't heard of any spin-offs of PC-BSD offering KDE 3.5. However, there is a version of Kubuntu called Trinity which offers the KDE 3.5 desktop for the latest versions of Kubuntu (along with the older versions of KDE applications (e.g. Amarok 1.4)). Check it out - I'm probably going to review it soon as well, so please do check out this site as well!
    Thank you so much for your comment!

  6. i use Arch + KDE 4.4 and never had problem with KDM !!! so pls dont say such a bullshit that do not use KDM...try to get lost of *buntu shit distros...

  7. @hBd: I should make this a little clearer, but please try to mind your language here. It makes the Internet a nicer place for everyone.
    With that out of the way, I don't doubt that Arch with KDE doesn't experience any problems with KDM. The problems occur when installing KDE on top of a distribution with GNOME (and, hence, GDM) installed already (and I don't think this problem is exclusive to Ubuntu and its ilk). I think it's some sort of conflict between GDM and KDM that makes using KDM over GDM a bad decision, which is why if you, like I did, choose to install KDE over GNOME, stick with GDM as the login manager.
    Thanks for the comment! (And please do be mindful of how you write your comments in the future (anywhere, not just here).)