Speed improvements expected in KDE 4

Speed improvements expected in KDE 4

Summary: The next major version of KDE may run up to 30 percent faster, due to improvements in how its graphical framework uses resources

KDE 4, the next major version of the Linux desktop KDE, is likely to start up and run faster due to changes that have been made to Qt, the graphical framework that KDE is built on.

The first beta version of KDE 3.4, the last release in the current branch, was released on Thursday. But this release is not as important as KDE 4, which is due out later in the year. A beta version of Qt 4, on which KDE 4 will be based, was released at the end of December, with a final version due in the first half of 2005.

Qt is developed by Norwegian software company Trolltech, which releases the cross-platform application framework under both commercial and open source software licences. Eivind Throndsen, product manager for Qt, said significant improvements made in Qt 4 will boost the performance of KDE applications.

"A notable improvement is in the areas of start-up time and resource consumption -- the speed changes should be noticeable," said Throndsen. "We have revised the entire toolkit -- across the board it is smarter about how it uses resources."

In initial tests Trolltech found a 20 to 30 percent speed improvement in the new version of Qt, according to Throndsen. In this test the current version of Qt Designer, Trolltech's GUI designer application, was tested on Qt 3 and compared with the new version of Qt Designer running on Qt 4. Trolltech will carry out more comprehensive performance tests before it releases the final version of Qt 4, said Throndsen.

Richard Smith, a KDE developer, said the performance improvements in Qt 4 are likely to have a considerable impact on the performance of KDE, but for individual functions it will depend on whether it was KDE or Qt deficiencies that were causing previous versions of KDE to run slowly.

Aside from the performance improvement, Qt 4 includes features aimed at developers, including a porting tool that will make it easier for programmers to port applications from Qt 3 to Qt 4.

It will also include improved support for alpha blending windows -- rendering semi-transparent windows on the computer screen. Qt 3 only has support for alpha blending in top-level windows, while Qt 4 will allow developers to make any window semi-transparent, said Throndsen. This may be useful for applications that run in the background, but which users want to keep an eye on, such as a terminal window that is connected to a UNIX server.

The latest KDE beta, version 3.4, does not have a significant number of new features as developers are concentrating on the next major release, according to KDE developer Smith. "There is not a lot of really new stuff," said Smith. "Everyone's focusing on the changes from KDE 3.4 to 4."

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • I wouldn't say its that slow to start with. Not often though a new desktop release reduces demands on resources rather than increases them!
  • Agreed! Feature creep is rampant, it's nice to see some optimization going on.
  • KDE is pretty darned fast right now -- a 30% increase in speed would be a huge deal. With Windows getting slower with each release and Mac OS X's Aqua interface a sluggard by comparison, a super snappy, beautifully rendered KDE desktop might win over many converts. Only time will tell...
  • I thought people were supposed to disagree on news talkback forums

    It's a nice surprise to see so many people in agreement about the performance of KDE. I've been impressed with it, and I like the fact that I can install just KDE's very core ("kore"?) if I want to and have a desktop light enough to keep up on a 48MB IBM Thinkpad.

    I should add that I've been checking out KDE releases since somewhere in the 2.x range, and I've seen the performance improve with every release, just like they claimed.
  • In case anyone looks at this, here's my updated opinion

    In my ancient comment to this article, I said that I'd seen nothing but sunshine and roses from KDE, only getting happier with every subsequent release, including 3.5.9. I want to update my experience. KDE 4 blows. )-: But don't worry, it'll (probably) get better. Users heard the promises of KDE 4 and demanded that distributions use it. Distributions tried it, didn't like it, caved into peer pressure, and packaged it anyway. (Sorry for being one of the users begging for it.) Users are now sticking to old distributions, because there's just about as much to love about KDE 4 as there is for Windows Vista. (For the sarcasm-illiterate, that is equal to zero.) But the KDE developers said, and you can find this all over the place on the Internet, that KDE 4.0 is going to be more of a development release than what we had expected. KDE 4.0 is fine if you don't want to actually DO anything. So, either help make "stuff" for KDE 4, help refine it, help report bugs, or wait patiently.