Product Review: The K Desktop Environment, Version 1.0

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At the risk of sounding like a surfer, KDE was the sharpest, coolest window display I had ever seen on any operating system.
State Preservation at Shutdown

With FVWM, several programs could be opened and iconified in order to set up the desktop. Then, when FVWM exited, it all disappeared and the next time FVWM was opened, all changes would have to be redone. KDE opens in exactly the same state that you leave it. To me, this is both logical and convenient.

Conclusion

What about KDE's drawbacks? So far, I haven't found anything with KDE that I don't like or that is “broken”. It seems to be solidly engineered and stable. I'm keeping it!

One objection to KDE is that it looks a lot like MS Windows 95. Once you use it for a while, though, you realize KDE is not much like Windows 95 at all. It does have a silver bar along the display bottom (and top), and icons on the left side. However, every aspect of KDE's appearance is configurable; these are just what come out of the box. Similarities to Windows 95 end at the screen pixels.

Some have also said that KDE represents a moving away from the low-level workings of the operating system. For many people, this is actually good news. For the programmers and kernel hackers, Linux is still underneath it all. I believe most will see KDE as a breath of much needed fresh air. Recall what happened to OS/2—a highly specialized operating system that catered strictly to intellectuals.

The Linux community can't simply find a comfortable niche and stay there forever. We are either attracting users or losing them—not everyone is a kernel hacker or system programmer. If Linux is to be a vibrant, mainstream, “world dominant” operating system, it needs conveniences for the average user: straightforward installation, good applications, good looks and ease of use. KDE is a quantum step in this direction.

Gunnery Sergeant Bill W. Cunningham, U.S. Marine Corps, is a system administrator with the Second Marine Aircraft Wing, G-7, Cherry Point, NC (the greatest job in the universe). He likes playing guitar, reading, driving and spending as much time as possible with his wife and four kids. He can be reached at bill@mfs.usmc.mil.

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