"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Test Drive : KDE Plasma 5 on the EEEPC

I like KDE from a theoretical point of view: I especially appreciate its philosophy about flexibility and configuration capabilities. On the other hand, on the practical side, I never felt comfortable using it even if I tried more than once. By the way after reading the recent news about new KDE “Plasma” version 5 I decided it was worth giving it a look.
I so downloaded the “Neon 5 Project” live disk image, based on Kubuntu, available on KDE site and put it on my USB disk using Ubuntu start-up disk creator tool.

First impressions

I tested the newly prepared USB disk both on my desktop computer and on my netbook. KDE worked fine, of course, on the Veriton desktop but I was surprised to find I worked decently even on my old EEEPC.
At boot the EEEPC show an error about a Kwin unexpectedly closing, whatever causes it KDE starts and it seem to work normally.
the desktop is organized in a very traditional way with a functional “start” menu on the lower left:

and a notification area on the lower right
The new “Breeze” theme appears to be clean and easily readable even I'm not such a fan of these “all-flat” themes.
KDE 5 develops many of its menus vertically among them the “alt-tab” windows list,
the widgets configuration panel
and the activities panel.

Customizing a desktop

It is on the customization field where KDE shows the power other desktop environments lack of. Almost all desktop aspect are configurable using system settings:
the desktop “look and feel” (theme) for example …
or active (hot) corners and edges functionality
combined with desktop widgets and activities can adapt the desktop to the more different ways of working you may have

Conclusions

KDE Plasma 5 left me with a very positive impression. KDE people show how, in the desktop environment business, innovation doesn't necessarily mean radical changes in the user interfaces. Even if it's traditionally considered an “heavy-weight” desktop KDE 5 performed quite well on a limited computer like the EEEPC 900. Still there is a little but visible delay while operating menus even if animation effects play fluidly. I don't know if I'll ever switch to KDE but, surely, I'll continue keeping an eye on it.