KDE 4.1 released

KDE 4.1 released

Summary: The latest version is intended to answer some of the most serious criticisms of the KDE 4.0 graphical user environment.

The community behind KDE, the widely used Linux and Unix desktop environment, this week released the final version of KDE 4.1, a significant upgrade and the second edition of KDE to use the Qt 4 application development framework.

Along with Gnome, KDE is one of the two most widely used desktop environments for Linux and Unix systems. With the KDE 4 series, developers shifted the system from the Qt 3 application-development framework to Qt 4, while rebuilding the desktop environment from scratch.

KDE 4, however, was criticized by users on open-source mailing lists for its lack of features and customization, bugs and usability problems. Some suggested including older versions of KDE alongside KDE 4 or even creating a new system based on KDE 3.5 but ported to the Qt 4 framework.

Developers said that, with version 4.1, a number of additional applications have made the transition to KDE 4, most notably the personal information manager Kontact, which includes the email client KMail, the planner KOrganizer and other components.

Unlike its predecessors, Qt 4 was released for Windows, meaning KDE 4 applications can run natively on that platform. KDE 4 applications also run natively on Linux and Unix variants, including Mac OS X.

Another significant change with KDE 4 was the introduction of an engine for generating desktop and window panels, called Plasma.

"The new desktop shell Plasma, introduced in KDE 4.0, has matured to the point where it can replace the KDE 3 shell for most casual users," developers said in the KDE 4.1 announcement. It now supports multiple and resizable panels, allowing the same flexibility as KDE 3's system, the developers said, adding that it now includes features such as a Cover Switch, as well as performance gains in composited window management.

Other applications now ported to KDE 4 include the Dragon Player media player and the KDE CD Player. Other elements that have been tweaked include the Konqueror browser and the Dolphin file manager.

Developers have improved the speed of KHTML, the browser engine on which Konqueror is based, and have integrated Apple's KHTML-based web-rendering toolkit WebKit into Plasma to allow Mac OS X Dashboard widgets to be used in KDE.

In a recent open letter defending KDE 4, KDE board member Sebastian Kügler said the underlying improvements to the development infrastructure would begin to be more apparent in version 4.1. "The new features and frameworks need some time to be implemented in a user-visible way," he wrote. "The merit of the infrastructural work that has led up to 4.0 will be seen in the coming releases, with KDE 4.1 showing first signs of an increased pace of development, thanks to the new foundations."

The stable binaries and source code are available from KDE's website.

Topics: Linux, Hardware, Open Source, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • .....

    We'll see... I wasn't to impressed with KDE 4.0. KDE 3.5.9 works quite well and I really like the ability to set konqueror up with multiple tabs and have all my frequent folders set up on the left in the book marks. Makes it easy to quickly get to a folder that is buried deep. If you have used KDE 3.5 then you should be familiar with what I speak of. I'll give KDE 4.1 a try on the laptop... see what I think. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • 4.0's problem

      Great framework, but no features. A lot of possibilities, but hardly any capabilities. I mean heck, you couldn't even change the size or color of the tool bar. Which is basically because it WAS written from scratch, so no porting was possible. That means that unless you are developing the features 4.0 wasn't going to grow on you.

      I haven't tried 4.1 yet, and with a vacation coming up I probably won't until the end of the month. But if it starts to fill in some of the desktop tweaking features we have enjoyed in 3.5 I think it'll start growing on people.
      Michael Kelly
    • BTW

      You can change the default file manager from Dolphin to Konqueror. I forget how though.
      Michael Kelly
      • A must

        Konqueror is much preferred to Dolphin.
        Tim Patterson
        • Konqueror is a power tool for power users

          Dolphin is fine for everyone else.
          Michael Kelly
    • Improved

      Started checking 4.1 out yesterday. Much improved over 4.0. It's not as complete or configurable as 3.5.x yet but I think it is now usable as a primary DE. The potential of the 4.x series is amazing.
      Tim Patterson
  • KDE ROCKS !!!

    Need I say more ,,,
    • Yes

      >> Need I say more?


      It would be nice if you explain why you think it rocks.
      • Sure

        Unlike KDE 4.0.x KDE 4.1 is stable, more configurable and able to be used as a daily desktop.

        Provided, of course, that you don't pine for the 3.5.x series. :-)

        It is different and takes some getting used to. At the moment my take is that it is actually faster than KDE 3.5.9 on the same hardware even with the eye candy turned on full blast. (FYI, I turned most of it down to a dull roar after checking that.)

        There is a growing list of KDE 4 friendly apps including the KDE 4.x version of Amarok, the best audio player on any platform.

        The desktop is still for early adopters only though it can perform admirably as a daily use desktop in spite of the occasional blip and missing items. The latter seems to be distro specific rather than overall.

        The much discussed and, it seems, disliked, plasmoids actually work now and they are an improvement over Superkaramba widgets common in KDE 3.5.9 though you can install them too, if you want.

        I'm finding Folder View to be a huge improvement over the icon littered desktop and, as promised/hoped for, an exellent way to improve work flow. What it needs still to complete that is to be able to create virtual folders, which is coming in 4.2, and to be able to assoicate an app or apps to the folder which makes them available the instant the Folder View is opened.

        As noted there's the issue of making Konq the default file manager over Dolphin which needs to be much easier. Of course for those of us, like me, who like the Swiss Army Knife of file managers Konq is irreplaceable.

        It won't make everyone happy though I hope and suspect a lot of the angry criticism will die down to more constructive stuff. It's quite the change which does make people nervous.

        That said, I'm more than happy to use it daily.

        Oh, and you can actually get a KDE friendly theme for Firefox 3 that comes from the Firefox folks so that even FF fits right in rather than a sudden blast of GTK stuff in a QT3/4 enviornment!


  • Running 4.1 since RC and it's very nice

    I've been running 4.1 since the RC was available in openSuSE 11's build service and I find it to be very usable as my desktop env.
  • RE: KDE 4.1 released

    What most disgusts me about KDE is the amount of memory that it consumes. It hogs up so much amount of RAM that it leaves no space for other applications to work. Whenever I load KDE 3 on my laptop, it seems like screeming at me "Hey, Gimme more RAM!"