Is KDE4 usable on FreeBSD?

mdh mdh_lists at
Sat Nov 1 13:09:20 PDT 2008

--- On Sat, 11/1/08, Rolf G Nielsen <listreader at> wrote:
> From: Rolf G Nielsen <listreader at>
> Subject: Re: Is KDE4 usable on FreeBSD?
> To: yuri at
> Cc: freebsd-questions at
> Date: Saturday, November 1, 2008, 3:27 PM
> Yuri wrote:
> > Wojciech Puchar wrote:
> >> 
> >> it's SLOW and resource hungry - giving nothing
> else than a good look. that's why i compare it to
> windoze.
> >> 
> >> and why you need "desktop" (whatever it
> means) at all?
> > 
> > You  need desktop for Unix (Linux) to be adopted by
> simple users.
> > Also GUI makes life much easier even for advanced
> users.
> > I don't want to deal command lines/config files
> for mundane
> > things like finding and setting up wireless networks,
> playing
> > CDs/DVDs, etc. GUI integrated with desktop would make
> this
> > much less time consuming.
> If I need to (re)configure the behaviour of som app or part
> of the system, I edit the appropriate config file, which
> takes about a minute or two...

Unless you've never modified the configs for that app before, in which case you have to learn the configuration format.  It also sometimes occurs that these formats and locations and whatnot are changed between released by the developers.  Above and beyond that, some apps have good configuration documentation and are a breeze.  Others, less so.  

I'm not advocating a user interface for configuring everything, but for certain things which are inherently extremely complex, such as window manager layout and behavior, it's my opinion that it really is a time-saver.  

> If a user of some fancy desktop with lots of whistles and
> bells wants to do the same, he/she has to browse through an
> extensive hierarchy of categories and subcategories to get
> to the setting he/she wants to change. That hierarchy is
> more than often far from intuitive, so that very same task
> may take ten minutes or more.

I find KDE's configuration interface to be intuitive and generally quite sane.  GNOME's isn't lacking in that area either, imho, it's just lacking a lot of options that I feel ought to be tunable parameters (most of which are, but require extensive config file hacking...)  

The simple fact is that I can configure my KDE desktop quicker than someone can, seeking the same granularity of modification, configure something which has no UI for configuration.  
This isn't too big a deal for me, or you, or likely many of the folks on this list, but for someone who is new to FreeBSD and has never hacked a window manager config file before, it likely is.  They'd have to spend quite some time learning the format and locations, and finally doing the tweaking to get what they actually want from their system.  

Part of the reason a lot of folks use FreeBSD is for its flexibility.  One can do a great deal with a FreeBSD system.  It doesn't have to be taxing.  There's no sense in giving out "hardcore points" to people who expend time and energy doing something that can be done more efficiently through a UI and without the learning curve.  

> In what way is the latter easier than the first? I see
> none...

The fact is that your opinion (and mine, for that matter) are fairly subjective.  I've done things both ways - I was using FreeBSD before KDE and GNOME were at all widely used, and if you wanted a decent looking desktop that functioned the way you wanted to be most productive, you had to hack a config file.  
That said, I just don't see how KDE's configuration system (as this is the topic at hand in this thread) is at all counterintuitive.  

> >> 
> >> just window manager is enough, try fvwm2 maybe
> icewm maybe other etc.
> >> 
> > not really enough.
> > 
> > Unfortunately open source is pretty much a failure
> when it comes to GUI and
> > desktop. Any kind of GUI, look at ddd for example.
> Untested development-stage
> > software (like kde4) is being released to the public
> for some reason.

I disagree on the failure part.  As far as bugs being released, it happens in the closed-source world plenty, too.  Consider if you will service packs for MSWindows.  As a programmer in the real world, you're going to mess up.  You'll make typos.  Things that work well on your computers may not work well on other peoples'.  Only a limited number of people actively beta test early releases of software.  Consider the number of FreeBSD users running HEAD to those running RELENG_? to those running RELENG_?_? or a -RELEASE.  Most people don't run HEAD all the time because they want/need a system that is stable and can't spend some number of hours each day or week or month updating their world+kernel from CVS.  Yet HEAD is where bugs get introduced and, hopefully!, fixed.  

As far as KDE4 being untested, I'd send you over to the KDE folks to let them set you straight on that.  The short of it is that you're just flat-out wrong.  

KDE4 runs pretty well.  I've come upon two bugs in it.  One is nigh-impossible to track down and deal with, but is a minor graphical issue that doesn't get in my way.  The other turned out to be an nvidia binary driver bug which is not in any way specific to KDE or even FreeBSD (Linux Compiz users seem to be the largest afflicted community).  

At the end of the day, when you find bugs in closed-source software, you call the vendor and file a ticket.  With open-source software, since you aren't paying anything, you ought to deal with bugs through the community.  Bug trackers for KDE exist.  So do mailing lists.  There's a community there with people - usually unpaid volunteers - who are willing to help debug the software, just as commercial software vendors have paid support staff for such issues.  If you don't like free UNIX-like systems, you can buy a nice Sun box and get Solaris support from Sun.  In fact, Sun's support has been really good in my vast experience, so I'd even go so far as to recommend this if what you want is that level of support.  Even Sun releases bugs sometimes though.  This is why they, like those of us in the open-source world, release patches.  

This whole argument just strikes me as a lot of meaningless complaining in lieu of actually productively trying to identify and fix bugs.  

- mdh


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