Ditching KDE Applications

Exactly a year ago to the day, I visited Caltech, and we visited some old family friends; one of the guys there is my age, and he's also a free software enthusiast, like me. Yay! We got into a discussion about free software and the applications we prefer. I mentioned that I prefer using Okular, GwenView, and Amarok compared to the default GNOME counterparts in Linux Mint. He told me that mixing and matching GNOME and KDE applications hurts performance. I remembered that since then, but I never really gave it a second thought until recently. That's because I noticed that opening files in GwenView or Okular would take 3 to 4 seconds, which in these days of being able to open any file almost instantly on a modern computer is unacceptable.

But why should I care now? Shouldn't I have continued being happy with 3 to 4 second wait times to open images and PDF documents? Well, there was one other application that got in the way of that contentment: Gloobus Preview. Follow the jump to read the rest.

Gloobus Preview is the holy grail of file previewing. It works best in conjunction with Nautilus Elementary, but that's a minor point. That aside, it can show virtually any folder, document, image, sound file, and movie in existence; it's like VLC Media Player on steroids. If that wasn't enough, it can do so extraordinarily quickly. I just press SPACE on the file in question, and in mere milliseconds the slick Gloobus Preview window is appropriately sized (more on that in a bit) to show the file. Do note that Gloobus Preview can't edit files, and it can't even zoom on images or PDF files; this is a problem when I have to view PDF homework assignments with really small text, so for cases like that, other programs which I will mention soon are required.

So Gloobus Preview's amazing abilities and superb speed and light weight drew me away from the KDE applications that once enamored me. But what else happened? Well, after Gloobus Preview drew me in, I reevaluated whether I really needed many of the features offered in Okular, GwenView, and Amarok. Actually, that's not strictly true; at one point, my love affair with KDE applications in GNOME also included Dolphin, but once Nautilus got split-pane viewing in version 2.30 which is what is included in Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME, I decided to not install Dolphin again once I upgraded my old computer from Linux Mint 7 "Gloria" GNOME, and that's true on my newer laptop too. So that leaves Amarok, GwenView, and Okular.

I don't really use any music applications, because if I listen to music, I listen to it on Pandora online, and if I want to listen to a specific song on my hard drive, I listen to just that using either Nautilus's built-in sound previewer or...Gloobus Preview. So Amarok could easily go. Actually, Rhythmbox could go as well, but I think I'll keep it around just in case.

When viewing images and PDF files, the most I would need to do would consist of zooming, rotating, or cropping. I don't mess with the colors of an image unless I really want to do so, in which case I would use an actual image editing program. I don't annotate my PDF files; I just look at them and maybe zoom in or out. GwenView and Okular's other functions were just superfluous to me. Plus, these two applications were starting to load a little too slowly. I thus banished those from my computer, replacing them with Viewnior and EPDFView. (I also removed Evince and Eye Of GNOME, because they had no reason to stick around.)

For some reason, I also had Akonadi-tray on my computer; it was probably an artifact from when I had installed KDE 4.5 alongside GNOME 2.30; I never used it for obvious reasons, but I didn't bother removing it until today.

There were two KDE applications that I really liked but removed for consistency: KolourPaint and KSnapshot. Both are stable, solid, very functional, and yet very easy to use. KolourPaint reminds me much of Microsoft Paint, which I like very much, with a couple more useful functions; KSnapshot is much more functional than the standard GNOME screenshot tool, yet it never feels like too much to use. Hence, I felt a little sad letting them go, but I've replaced them with Pinta and Shutter. I like Shutter a lot already for its immense functionality, so that shouldn't be too difficult a transition. I've never really used Pinta before, but it seems to have a similar interface, so we'll see how it goes; that said, it seems to basically operate as a GIMP-Lite in terms of functionality but with a nicer interface, which doesn't really sit well with me because it's just hiding all the really complicated stuff in the menubar and toolbars.

You may be asking why I installed Viewnior and EPDFView when I could have just used Gloobus Preview anyway. (If you aren't, well, now you are. Hehheh.) Well, for one, Gloobus Preview doesn't have zoom functions, which I sometimes need; also, if I download a PDF file from online and open it with Gloobus Preview before saving it to my hard drive, I can't use Gloobus Preview to save it to the hard drive. Finally, for some reason, when Mozilla Firefox calls Gloobus Preview to open a downloaded file, the application window starts out really small, so it's annoying to constantly have to resize Gloobus Preview just to see a downloaded file's contents. That's why I installed Viewnior and EPDFView. But I'll still be using Gloobus Preview for simple viewing, as well as listening to music files and watching movies.

So it was a combination of Gloobus Preview's awesomeness, the KDE applications' slowness, and said applications' features that I didn't really care about that made me move away from them. This isn't in any way meant to bash KDE; I just found better applications and reevaluated some priorities about KDE applications. If I used KDE on a regular basis, I'd probably also try to remove as many GNOME applications as possible.
On a side note, don't confuse KDE and Qt. I still have Qt on my system because of Skype and VLC, both of which I use regularly. I'm not getting rid of those.