KDE 4.2 Beta 1 Provides First Look at Upcoming User Experience
KDE Commmunity Ships First Beta Release of KDE 4.2, Inviting Community to Test and Report Bugs.
November 26, 2008. The KDE
Community today announced the immediate availability of "Caterpillar",
(a.k.a KDE 4.2 Beta 1), the first testing release of the new KDE 4.2 desktop. Caterpillar is aimed at testers and reviewers. It should provide a solid ground to report bugs that need to be tackled before KDE 4.2.0 is released. Reviewers can use this beta to get a first look at the upcoming KDE 4.2 desktop which provides significant improvements all over the desktop and applications.
With 885 bugs closed in the past week, the KDE community is now in bugfixing mode in order to provide a smooth KDE 4.2.0 to end users in January.
A KDE 4.2 Beta 1 Desktop
Significant refinements of Plasma and KWin, the KDE workspace
For the 4.2 release, the KDE team has fixed literally thousands of bugs and has implemented dozens of features that were missing until now in KDE 4. 2 fixes your issues. This beta release gives you the opportunity to assist in ironing out the remaining wrinkles. The KDE release team has put together a list with the most significant improvements in 4.2 Beta 1:
Compositing desktop effects are enabled where hardware and drivers support it, with a basic default setup. Automatic checks confirm that compositing works before enabling it on the workspace.
New desktop effects have been added such as the Magic Lamp, Minimize effect, Cube and Sphere desktop switchers. Others, such as the desktop grid, have been improved. All effects have been polished and and feel natural due to the use of motion dynamics. The user interface for choosing effects has been reworked for easy selection of the most commonly used effects.
Central elements of the desktop experience have seen significant improvements to give a usable and coherent experience. These include grouping and multiple row layout in the task bar, icon hiding in the system tray, notifications and job tracking by Plasma, the ability to have icons on the desktop again by using a Folder View as the desktop background. Restored features and minor tweaks round out the work, such as the return of panel autohiding to maximise your productive screen space, icons now remain where they are placed in the Folder View, the location of new applets is improved, and window previews and tooltips are back in the panel and Task Bar.
New Plasma applets include applets for leaving messages on a locked screen, previewing files, switching desktop Activity, monitoring news feeds, and utilities like the pastebin applet, the calendar, timer, special character selector, a quicklaunch applet, a system monitor, among many others.
KRunner, the "Run command..." dialog has extended functionality through several new plugins, including spellchecking, konqueror browser history, power management control through PowerDevil, KDE Places, Recent Documents, and the ability to start specific sessions of the Kate editor, Konqueror and Konsole. The converter plugin now also supports quickly converting between units of speed, mass and distances.
Wallpapers are now provided plugins, so developers can easily write custom wallpaper systems in KDE 4.2. Available wallpaper plugins in KDE 4.2 will be slideshows, Mandelbrot fractals, and of course regular static images.
Theming improvements in the Task Bar, Application Launcher, System Tray and most other Plasma components streamline the look and feel and increase consistency. A new System Settings module, Desktop Theme Details, gives the user control over each element of various Plasma themes.
Multi-screen support has been improved through the Kephal library, fixing many bugs when running KDE on more than one monitor.
Desktop as Folder View (traditional desktop)
New and Improved Applications
All applications have seen bugfixes, feature additions, user interface improvements and generally received more polish during the last 4 months of development. The following list gives some ideas about the areas of improvement.
This list of new features in KDE 4.2 is not comprehensive yet. Please refer to the feature plan for more details.
Dolphin now supports previews of files in toolbars and has gained a slider to zoom in and out on file item views. It can now also show the full path in the breadcrumb bar.
Konqueror offers increased loading speed by prefetching domain name data in KHTML. A find-as-you-type bar improves navigation in webpages.
KMail has a powerful and attractive message header list, and reworked attachment view.
The KWrite and Kate text editors can now operate in Vi input mode, accomodating those used to the traditional UNIX editor.
PowerDevil, the new KDE4 power management infrastructure brings a modern, integrated tool for controlling various aspects of mobile devices.
Ark, the archiving tool has improved UI, gained support for password-protected archives and is accessible via a context menu from the file managers now.
A new printing configuration system brings back a number of features users have been missing in KDE 4.0 and 4.1. The components "printer-applet" and "system-config-printer" are shipped with the kdeadmin and kdeutils module.
KRDC, the remote desktop client improves support for Microsoft's Active Directory through LDAP.
Kontact has gained a new planner summary and support for drag and drop in the free/busy view.
KSnapshot now uses the window title when saving screenshots, making it easier to index them using search engines.
The secure file transfer protocols SFTP and FISH are now also supported by KDE on the Windows platform.
Killbots is a new game shipped with the kdegames module. Other games have improved user interaction and added themes and levels.
Educational apps such as KAlgebra, KStars, KTurtle and Parley have seen major improvements in UI and feature sets.
Okteta, the hex editor has significantly improved various aspects of its user interface.
Improved Desktop Grid Effect
To find out more about the KDE 4 desktop and applications, please also refer to the
KDE 4.1.0 and
KDE 4.0.0 release
notes. KDE 4.2 Beta 1 is not recommended for everyday use.
This beta will be followed up by another beta on December 16th, a release candidate on January 6th and the final release of KDE 4.2.0 on January 27th, 6 months after the release of KDE 4.1.0.
Installing KDE 4.2 Beta 1 Binary Packages
Some Linux/UNIX OS vendors have kindly provided binary packages of KDE 4.2 Beta 1,
and in other cases community volunteers have done so.
Some of these binary packages are available for free download via the KDE 4.2 Beta 1 Info Page.
Additional binary packages, as well as updates to the packages now available,
may become available over the coming weeks.
For a current list of available binary packages of which the KDE Project has
been informed, please visit the KDE 4.2 Beta 1 Info
Compiling KDE 4.2 Beta 1
The complete source code for KDE 4.1.80 may be freely downloaded.
Instructions on compiling and installing KDE 4.1.80
are available from the KDE 4.2 Beta 1 Info