First look at the unreleased KDE4.0.0 (with screenshots)

KDE 4.0.0 is days away from being released. In this post I show you some pieces of the final look of KDE4.0.0 and mention some of the most anticipated features of this great step forward for the Free software desktop. Let's take a look at the final state of this highly anticipated release.

While some of the most shift-key-challenged KDE personalities have cautioned against too high hopes for KDE4.0.0 and despite it being the very first in a long row of releases: KDE4.0.0 is a very impressive desktop.
As the version number suggests KDE4.0.0 is the very first release since KDE3.0.0 to break binary compatibility with KDE3. Being allowed to burn some bridges is the reason so many new frameworks and large changes have landed in just one release.

Starting up

I have been following the development of KDE4 for quite a few months now. The version I base this post on is from the main KDE development (trunk in svn) at the time of the release tagging freeze. As such it should be very similar to the packages you will receive from your favorite distribution on the 11th.

Progress all around

Many of the new frameworks are still almost unused in the user interface of the first KDE4 release. But some more obvious and easily implementable changes have already appeared in KDE4.0.0.


Oxygen: Originally planned as the new icon set for KDE4, Oxygen has re-defined all aspects of KDE's user interface, including the window decorations and theme.

Plasma: Plasma is the new desktop shell of KDE4, one of the most anticipated components of KDE4 and the one which was started last.

Because of its late start plasma has not realized its full potential yet, but as with many things in KDE4.0.0 it will gain features rapidly in the future. Plasma's vision is a lot more than to display a panel and cool looking widgets. Stay tuned, already KDE4.1 will introduce new features.

KWin: KWin has been a very robust window manager for a long time. New in KDE4 is its ability to use desktop effects, window shadows and subtle animations. These features depend on the availability of OpenGL or at least XRender, which are not fully supported on all graphics cards yet although the situation is improving rapidly.

However to reduce the risk of an unusable interface, desktop effects may be disabled by default in KDE4.0.0. They can be easily enabled in Systemsettings (KDE4's control center replacement) under Desktop -> Desktop Effects.


Dolphin: The new default file manager in KDE4. While Konqueror has retained its ability to manage files (and cook coffee) dolphin is written specifically for this task.

The first visible piece of KDE4's new semantic search backend Nepomuk (the name won't be visible in the UI) is dolphin's ability to annotate and rate files.
In the future Nepomuk and Strigi will help you answer questions like "Who gave me this file?" or "What sources did I use on that KDE4.0.0 blog post?"
Progress in Qt4 (the toolkit KDE4 is based on) allows user interface polish like dolphin's sidebar, which changes its layout dynamically as the user drags it. No screenshot, you have to see this one in action.

Gwenview: KDE's image viewer Gwenview has received a lot of polish while it was ported to KDE4 and handles really, really well.

Okular: The new document viewer for KDE4, based on KDE3's KPDF application. It sports annotation features, previews, presentation mode, bookmarks and support for no less than 28 file types in my build.

Unreleased Applications

Amarok: The famous KDE based audio player has been ported to KDE4 and is receiving a major overhaul. It is currently in pre-alpha state, but I have been able to use it normally over the last few weeks. When it is ready, it may also be released for windows.

Dragon Player: Based on the Codein video player from the KDE3 days, Dragon Player continues a successful carrier as a simple and enjoybale video player.

These are some of the highlights of the upcoming KDE4.0.0. I hope you enjoyed this preview and have come to share my opinion that KDE4 is going to rock!

Take a look at this album for these and a few more screenshots I didn't include in this post. If you would like me to screenshot another application for you let me know in the comments and I will add it.


ANURAG said...

Thanks for sharing this useful information. I was already looking forward to such a detailed screenshot tour of KDE4.

maniacmusician said...

I really appreciate the post, good job. Using Picasa to host pictures is a little annoying though...

Paul said...

Aaron Seigo said a number of times that the look and feel would be revamped by the final release. We're 4 days to the launch and it still looks thick, dull, dreary, the title bar buttons are ugly...Sigh...I won't hold my breath.

Andrew said...


I'm pretty sure what Aaron said was that the look of Plasma was not final and would still be revamped. In many ways, it was, and I have a feeling that what we see as kde 4.0.0 is not what we'll see even in kde 4.1.0.

Utnnyan said...

"thick, dull, dreary, the title bar buttons are ugly..."

Huh? I don't think this looks dull or dreary. You're going to knock KDE 4 b/c in your opinion the title bar buttons look ugly? You're kidding me? Looks pretty nice to me.

Rodney said...

When I learned that KDE4 was being rewritten and optimised, I was really interested in KDE for the first time ever.

Unfortunately, it seems like the KDE team just want to put every stuipid annoying interface gadget possible into their package.

I will not be using KDE. I believe that you should run an interface via a menu, windows, a list view inside the windows, and for anything more advanced, an image viewer with thumbnail view and a Directory Opus like file manager.

Excluding the annoying users, I have just left Mac for Windows because of the shitty OSX interface. I HATE widgets. I HATE the window side panel. I HATE Apples UI guide for programs (which KDE seems to have followed pretty closely). I HATE the OSX PDF viewer that KDE seems to have copied.

There are things that I hate about windows as well. I HATE the startbar. I HATE the windows menus. I HATE the windows navigation buttons and other gadgets. KDE have been thoughtful enough to include these as well!

There is only one feature about Windows and OSX I hate that KDE has not included. The dumbass tree view.

It is pretty obvious that KDE wants to copy gadgets from the big boys instead of streamlining the WIMP interface. Some Linux people may say "Cool" and "Wow!" on release day, but most users get tired of useless tools cluttering up the interface. Every OSX user I personally know who got excited about widgets has now stopped using them and wonder what they saw in them.

Rotating windows is interesting, and I have been a fan of native organic window shapes since it was proposed in the A\Box.

The KDE team will have to take a step back and decide to create a good user interface, not a cluttered interface before I will ever touch KDE.

a0peter said...

Total noob here... But what about KOffice 2.0. I thought they where also going to release soon?

mikko said...

"looks thick, dull, dreary, the title bar buttons are ugly..."

I think it looks nice, but for your sake, let's hope they've included some way of customizing it.

test said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SmrtSkoso said...

Looks awesome. I love the new looks. And these new applications are even better. I think this is a great release for such an early (well the first) version in a new series. Judging from the KDE 3 series now it will start to improve really fast, so there is even more to look for in the future. Great job people!

fonz2591 said...

rodney: It will be tough not having you as a user, but somehow I'm sure we'll get by. One of the few things you don't appear to HATE is a console, so maybe you could use just use bash? (I promise it wasn't copied from windows or OSX)

a0peter: KOffice is seperate from the kdebase, and is therefore on a different release cycle. It will likely be released around 4.1, and testing builds will be available until then.

Bret said...

I've heard rumors that LinuxMCE will "ship" with KDE4. Is this true?

Rodney said...


KDE has lost the title of the most popular window manager in recent times for good reason. I am one of many. The people who love the way Apple do things are already on OSX. There are a fair amount of Apple switchers who hate the OS, and they switch back to Windows. KDE is not going to appeal to any of them.

The people in the Human Augmentation Project and later Xerox PARC were intelligent and designed an interface that was quick, simple to use and easy to learn. Since then there have been a few small advancements, and a few large UI advancements in file management, image display, and application programs.

Everything else has been questionable. RISCOS, XWindows, Windows, and OSX have all tried forcing change where no change was necessary. These changes have not been an improvement for most users, but beginners have learned to use these tools ignorant of how easy using computers could be.

In my experience, give me any computer user who does not know better for three days, and I will give you someone who will never go back to using the slow ungainly tools of Windows and OSX.

Joeri Sebrechts said...

Rodney, you hate about every organization and navigation structure except basic windows it seems. AFAIK kde has already figured out how to manage windows, so it makes sense to focus on things that build on top of that. Maybe you could describe your ideal desktop environment, so the rest of us can figure out what you like instead of what you hate.

By the way, I am a mac user, but I love simple and clean interfaces. I like apple's implementation of widgets because it is zero-clutter (you don't see it unless you activate the dashboard). KDE's implementation from what I can tell is also entirely optional and therefore is zero-clutter.

drowstar said...

I am not the most knowledgeable person to talk about this, but as far as I know LinuxMCE has always shipped with KDE.
You might be looking for this blog post by KDE president and lead plasma developer Aaron Seigo (http://aseigo.blogspot.com/2007/11/shoot-for-stars-you-might-hit-moon.html) where he talks about Plasma's role in one of the next versions of LinuxMCE

drowstar said...

koffice is not bound to KDE's release schedule. You can check out their release schedule at http://wiki.koffice.org/index.php?title=KOffice2/Schedule
According to this they are aiming for a release in April.

From my personal experience (building koffice occasionally for the last couple of months) I can tell you that KOffice2 is shaping up to become an equally impressive platform as KDE4.

Bret said...


Chris Putnam said...

xkcd is awesome! And this is a very helpful post; I've been wanting to give KDE a try for a while now (I've been a Gnome for a while) and the eye-candy here so beautifully presented will probably seal the deal.

David said...

KDE4 is going to be great.

Right now, all we're really seeing is a preview of the awesome features in store for 4.0.1 and later. But even this "preview" release looks great. It's certainly better than Windows Vista and XP in terms of UI, and is close to Mac for usability. I'm really looking forward to this and the upcoming releases.

This is certainly some software that I'll recommend to my friends.

David Webb

For you said...

great web site about web design


享受生活 - Enjoy life said...

A KDE friend in China had translated it into Chinese:

John said...

Amazing how some people can tell how bad a new desktop environment is going to be just by looking at a few screenshots...

Well, from me to you mate, don´t let the door hit your ar$e on the way out :-)


drowstar said...

@享受生活 - Enjoy life:
Wow, that is awesome! Thanks for the link :)

secret agent said...

i have tried kde4 from svn and one thing i missed the most in konqueror is the ability to set a picture as a background ..i really dont like the default white background on konqueror and dolphin ..i hope the feature is there, i just didnt find it or it will included in the future ..to me, this is a deal breaker as far as konqueror is concerned ..i am going to open a bug report about this ..just though i should share this in hope other people will see this and request it ..or point out if its already there

Arnel said...

AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I can't wait!

Dario said...

I really don't like this trend lately of stealing useful space for graphical bling. While I totally support the concept of organic desktop environment, we should never forget what a graphical interface is after all about: transmit information in the most effective way.

Dario said...

Further argumentation:
Organic desktop environment means a pretty simple thing: organize informations in the way our (organic) body perceives them. Do we really always look at a clock filling about 1/6 of our visual field all day long? No, we look at it when we need it. This is the conceptual opposite of what I saw in those screenshots. I know, it can be disabled, but the concept of its development is: it's there to stay.
Those willing to be desktop designers should really know better how human perception works. A good example of enlightened desktop concept is what pulseaudio developers are doing/willing to do now: directional audio signals that come from the application/notification/whatever that emits them. This is the same way we turn in the direction of someone calling us: it's how we relate to our world.
All this to say: desktops should really shift from visual abstractions to multi-sensorial, real-life organization of objects.

David John said...

Hi there Marcus, thank you for sharing this. I cant wait to get this KDE 4.0 my self.

By the way since I'm quite new to this Linux/KDE, I need some opinion from you;

Do you think my ASUS Eee-PC (4G 701) can afford to run this KDE 4.0 ?

Could you tell me what is the Minimum Spec and what is the Recommended Spec required to run this OS ?

Thank you very much in advance.


Furyz said...

realy nice , i like it.

But when i tried it month before some things(amarok,kicker) was regulary crashing :( I hope developers will fix it before release

Javier said...

@Dario: It's here to stay of course, but the point is the desktop comes absolutely empty. You are the one who chooses whether or not you add stuff or not.

@David John: I'm just an early adopter so can't make any promises, but it should run. KDE 4.0 (pre-release right now) runs faster in many cases than KDE 3.5.8, and is supposed to run better on older hardware because of the improvements in Qt 4.

obsidian123 said...

Wow! Great job, KDE devs!

Ignore the haters comments here.

@rodney - Windows deserves you, mate. Have fun with the
80% """effective""" antivirus software.... :-)

kevanf1 said...

Rodney. Ever considered going back to paper and pencil? Why do you bother using a PC at all if you hate them so much. Welcome to the real, new, wonderful world of modern computer interfaces :-)

Atanu Nath said...

'hater' comments?! i really do cringe when people use such terms.
i rather think a lot of the critics are misconstruing Rodney's point, either because they don't know any better or fanboyishness. KDE is a great desktop, i've used it since its 1.x days. Going into 3 it hasn't disappointed. But that shouldn't mean we need to be blind to its shortcomings. Rodney did have some pretty valid points. There are a lot of bloat features that a daily user can simply do without, and are resource hogs. They don't need to be adopted simply because all the other bigger desktop shells have them. Comments like 'you deserve to use windows' are simply juvenile.

Atanu Nath said...

@kevan above,

judging by the content of the comments, i'd wager Rodney's been using computers for the last 25 years. How old are you again?

the point is, he has the right perspective that machines or OSs should adapt to the user, and not the other way round. the more experienced you are as a user, the more you are liable to turn away, be critical of it. ts not the silly newbie arguments of winx vs mac vs blah blah. its as simple as whether the user is comfortable with how he is doing what he is doing.

drowstar said...

@david john

I agree with Javier.

The eeePC runs a version of Xandros with a simplified KDE3.4 and you can install a full KDE3. That means that it should run KDE4 as well.
You may find the following page showing KDE4 rc2 on the eeepc (with video) interesting: http://www.jespersaur.com/drupal/node/36

There was a blog post about an experiment with a more recent version of KDE4 running on artificially limited hardware on planetkde.org IIRC. I can't find it right now though.

Short answer: Yes, I believe KDE4 should run on the eeePC.

Mark said...

You know, I have really wondered about this release. I use Debian "Sid" and have tried to compile and use the pre-release development version a couple of time, but I never could get it to build.

Then I also saw quite a few grumblings about A)How long it was taking to get it "out there" and the features it included that didn't look "right."

I have to say that it looks really good to me now. I am looking forward to the release! I have been telling a few family members "just wait till 4.0 comes out... then you'll see the potential in Linux!" I still think this will be a major step.

It is frustrating to me that Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop by default. I really just don't get that! I think it must just be preference after all... Kind of like the "Coke vs. Pepsi" brand wars here in the united states. Still, to me the kde interface just "feels" so much more intuitive.

So I thought I'd put a more positive spin on Rodney's negative comments. I agree with some of his assesments, but "simple" should have to mean "feature free!"

I view "kde" from the prospective of a business user. That use is vastly different than a "home desktop" user or a "university environment" user. I think KDE should offer much of the content in the meta-packages as optional installs.

I think doing this one simple step would cause business users to demand the kde desktop. A business user wants to be able to tightly control his desktop environment. He does not want his employee's choosing between multiple audio players, video players, text editors, pdf readers, etc... He wants to have his IT people make the selection and have all users on the same page. Anything else is viewed as "clutter." This does not limit freedom of choice. But in business the desktop is not the focus... hopefully the client or customer is!

Wonder why kde doesn't offer "flavors" of kde kind of like Ubuntu does? You could have a segmented kde-business set of packages and an "all-in" meta package section like we currently have. Also they could offer something scaled down, kind of like linux-mint does... Why not?

Mark said...

Er... I mean to say "but "simple" should NOT have to mean "feature free!"

G2g591 said...

Rodney, the "big boys" copied KDE, not the other way around.

telford-lad said...

Plasma Desktop Environment 1.0

KDE 4.0 Does look very impressive, and what will be possible with the technologies are going to change the way we interface with a desktop computer system. However its not there yet, and the KDE 3.5 series will continue for at least 5-7 years. It's going to get very confusing for users, The KDE team have said this is not a progressive KDE update.

It looks excellent, but its not KDE, and should be released as PDE 1.0 not KDE 4.0

Mihai said...

High! ;)

I like KDE 4.
I've used KDE since it was v2...
About half to one year ago it was optimized as it worked much faster than its previous release in a way it made me keep the old computer I had at that time.
Now it looks fine in my opinion, I'd say classy, clean and cool.
I also like that it packages almost everything I need and more and I don't want to be changed that!
Of course there is place for improvement as always.
What I always appreciated to KDE is that they took the time to mature each version instead of deadlines that would force the team to let things half-implemented.

In conclusion I like it very much!
I can't wait for the release!

Alan said...

@atanu nath: I don't follow. Are you saying Rodney is NOT a hater? After all, this is a direct quote from him:
"Excluding the annoying users, I have just left Mac for Windows because of the shitty OSX interface. I HATE widgets. I HATE the window side panel. I HATE Apples UI guide for programs (which KDE seems to have followed pretty closely). I HATE the OSX PDF viewer that KDE seems to have copied.

There are things that I hate about windows as well. I HATE the startbar. I HATE the windows menus. I HATE the windows navigation buttons and other gadgets. KDE have been thoughtful enough to include these as well!"

That sounds like a lot of hating to me! And if you want to hate on me for my age or experience, think twice. I was born in the middle of WWII.

I can definitely wait for the proof in the KDE pudding, too. New is cool, sure, but so were phrases like "hep cat" and "far out, dude" once upon a time.

ToimToim said...

i can't wait kde 4 in openSUSE :D

drowstar said...

There are already KDE4 packages for OpenSUSE. Check them out at opensuse.org

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