Mandriva 2007.1: KDE vs. Gnome

Mandriva 2007.1 RC3 is out since this weekend, so we are really near the final release now. If you have some spare time, and some bandwidth, please grab one of the ISO images or start a network install via FTP with the boot.iso and report your findings!

After all the Gnome testing I did for Mandriva 2007.1, I thought it was time to do some ultimate testing with KDE. Actually, I’m very deceived: where Mandriva 2007.1 is very polished, the default KDE install is terrible. Really, not just bad, but plain terrible. Here’s an overview.

  • Image viewers:: Finally, it seems kuickshow has been removed from the default KDE installation. There is still gwenview, kview and showfoto (digikam) though. KView is really superfluous. GWenview does all what KView does, and more. Why keep it?
  • VoIP applications: It seems the marketing team has decided that VoIP will be the killer application for 2007.1. Great, but why does KDE need 3 VoIP applications?! There is KPhone, OpenWengo and Ekiga. Ekiga is without doubt the best Gnome VoIP application, but it really does not belong in KDE. OpenWengo is there, probably because of some agreement between Mandriva and the Wengo company. It seems like the best free (as in free speech) KDE VoIP application for now, as it’s actively developed. KPhone is not a dead project, but still I have rarely heard of it, and I’m wondering if there are really enough people using it. I never saw somebody on the cooker mailing list reporting about it or opening a bug report, which gives me the impression that this application is not very well tested in Mandriva. Why not just go with Wengophone? Wengophone can connect to any SIP service, so that does not seem to be a valid reason.

    Update 02 april 2007: The default VoIP application choice has changed today: KPhone is no longer installed by default in KDE, neither is Ekiga (excellent!). Skype was added for powerpack installs. Although I think Skype + Wengophone is still too much for Powerpack, the current situation is a huge improvement.
  • IRC and other network applications: Mandriva now installs all of kdenetwork by default. This includes the unmaintained and feature-lacking IRC client ksirc, as the program ksig. ksig seems to be a manager of signatures for your e-mail client. But: it does not seem to work together with KMail, KDE’s own e-mail client, as KMail seems to do its own signature management. I do not know a lot of people who are using so many different signatures that they need a seperate management application, and if it does not work together with KDE’s own mail client, I do not see why this is interesting to have. On the other hand, Konversation is also installed by default (while it still has not been moved to Main repository, which is also a problem). Konversation, contrarely to ksirc, and Kopete (which is also installed by default) is a great IRC client. So now we have two (actually even three counting Kopete) applications which can do IRC: again too much duplication.

    Update 02 april 2007: Today, first Konversation was removed (strange decision), now it has been added back. We are back at square one here. Actually the real problem here is not rpmsrate, it is task-kde which is the culprit, because it requires the kdenetwork metapackage, which installs ksirc and ksig by default, although they do not have high enough priority in rpmsrate. And Konversation still has not been moved to main :-(
  • Office suites: Mandriva 2007.1 installs two complete office suites in KDE. There’s the obligatory OpenOffice.org, but in 2007.1 we also see the complete KOffice suite now. That means two word processors, two spreadsheet applications, two presentation packages, etc… And that while KOffice are not very good in importing MS Office documents, and generally have a less extensive feature set. In 2007.0 there was the much better choice to install OpenOffice.org by default, and only a few of the KOffice applications which do not overlap too much with OpenOffice.org, like Krita, Kivio and Kexi.

    Update 02 april 2007: All of KOffice will not be installed anymore from now on. This issue has been fixed.
  • New kicker lay-out: The new kicker lay-out is very unhandy. The height of the panel has been reduced, so that there’s only one line available for open windows in the task list. Unfortunately a lot of space is wasted with four virtual desktops in the kicker bar. Together with 4 application icons and 4 items active by default in the system tray, this leaves way too less space for open windows. Already starting from three open windows on a 1024×768 monitor, the task list becomes too crowded to be pleasant. When changing the height of the panel back to the normal size, the Mandriva button becomes too big, that it’s not very beautiful anymore. Already several people asked on the cooker list how they can change the icon back to the previous one: it’s clear that this question will come back only more the moment Mandriva 2007.1 is released. A graphical configuration option was not possible for this release, due to a lack of time. A huge mistake if you ask me.
  • Fax programs: Actually this is also a problem present in the default Gnome installation, but in Gnome, this problem is not really visible, as it seems there are not graphical Gnome fax programs installed. In KDE this is worse: kdeprintfax, kfaxviewer and kfaw clutter the Office menu. This is especially visible when you use Discovery menus. As not a lot of people are using their computer as a fax today (most people don’t even have the hardware, either because they don’t have a modem, either because most modems are softmodems which do not work in Linux), this should not be installed by default.

    Update 02 april 2007: KFax will not be installed anymore from now on. Still there is kdeprintfax in default installation, which is still to much in my opinion.
  • Default digicam application: When you plug in a digital camera, you get a window asking what you want to do. The first and by default selected action is “Open in a new window”. Unfortunately this option does not work: it only shows you an empty Konqueror window. You have to manually choose the second option to open it in Digikam. But if you’ve never started Digikam before, even this option does not work flawlessly: digikam is opened, and asks where you want to create your picture collection, but it does not start the import dialog, like it does correctly the second time.
  • KDE file chooser opens in .mdk-folders: By default all KDE applications open and save their documents in /home/username/.mdk-folders/Documents. This is highly confusing, as this directory is not visible in for example Konqueror. There is actually the /home/username/Documents link to that directory. This is the name which should be shown in the KDE file chooser to not confuse users. This problem has already been reported months ago, but has been ignored

    Update 02 april 2007: This issue is currently under investigation by the Mandriva developers. Let’s hope for a fix soon.
  • Default settings in smb4k: KDE includes smb4k, a network browser for the SMB protocol, which enables users to easily connect to Windows shares. This is a fantastic application but unfortunately its default settings are not ideal: first of all, it still mounts the shares with the smbfs file system, which is obsolete now. It should be configured to use the actively maintained CIFS instead. And then I had charset problems. Connecting from a Mandriva 2007.1 system to another Mandriva 2007.1 system, both using UTF-8 locales, all special characters were lost. I had to manually configure smb4k to also use the UTF-8 file system.
  • Too much Gnome applications: We talked about Ekiga being installed by default in KDE, but that’s not all. There is also Gnucash (KMyMoney apparently is a good alternative), gnome-media (just to have a simple sound recorder, but how many people really use that?) and all of Gnome’s accessibility applications like Orca and Dasher. I can understand that one or two Gnome applications could be useful in KDE too, here it seems Mandriva is really exaggerating. For example Gnome does not include any KDE application by default (and one QT application: Scribus).
  • Klamav: Mandriva still includes the Klamav on-demand anti-virus program in KDE. This is really useless. Not only does it integrate bad with the back-end clamav (as Klamav does not use the virus databases downloaded by Clamav’s Freshclam, futhermore such an application is not very useful in a Linux desktop. Clamav is great for virus scanning on your mail gateway, but an anti-virus application for Linux itself is not necessary for now.

    Update 02 april 2007: Klamav will not be installed by default anymore.

Personally I use both KDE and Gnome, and always encouraged people to test the two, and see what they like better (if they really have any preference). Both have their advantages and disadvantages. But for now, I’ll be recommending Gnome to new Mandriva users. Mandriva’s KDE install is currently too bad to be recommended to new users. Mandriva’s Gnome installation on the other hand, is not perfect, but already very polished.

7 Replies to “Mandriva 2007.1: KDE vs. Gnome”

  1. Thanks for the feedback, Fred :)

    As you can see from the changelog on meta-task, this will all be fixed in final:

    – Fix kde default apps
    – don’t install twice fax program
    – Not necessary to install koffice all the time
    – Don’t install 3 woip apps
    – Byebye konversation it’s into contrib

  2. I was having fun with some upstream problems tonight.

    First, I reported the two issues I had encountered earlier when testing smb4k: it still uses the deprecated smbfs instead of cifs by default, and it does not get the right character set from your lo

  3. Hi,

    You say about the wengophone that it’s “free (as in beer)” – you don’t mention that it’s free (as in speech) as well. It’s a GPL application, developped at htto://www.openwengo.org – we’re always looking for people to help out :)

    Dave.

  4. Er, I really already said in the article:
    OpenWengo is there, probably because of some agreement between Mandriva and the Wengo company. It seems like the best free (as in free speech) KDE VoIP application for now, as it’s actively developed. :-)

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