Razor-qt 0.4 - Qt based Desktop Environment
Razor-qt is a new desktop environment based on the QT toolkit. I installed it from the PPA and gave it a quick go. It’s early days for the project, but it might eventually become a refuge for lovers of KDE 3 in the same way that Xfce has become popular with people who want to recreate the Gnome 2.x experience.
The website declares that the project already has enough finished and working components to be considered a desktop environment. So far they have a desktop, a panel, application launcher menu and pop-up, desktop widgets, a settings manager and a session manager. The panel is pretty standard fare, featuring the usual application menu, quick launch taskbar, clock and status area, all of which are implemented as configurable plugins. The panel is drag and drop enabled, allowing for easy additions to the quick-launch bar. Two functional desktop widgets, a clock and a folder viewer, ship with the current version.
The application launcher. It's nothing to write home about but it gets the job done and it's drag and drop enabled.
Razor-QT doesn’t aim to be a window manager. On my Xubuntu netbook it defaulted to Openbox, and on an Ubuntu box it used Metacity. It looked pretty much identical in both cases. Before you ask, yes, Kwin, the KDE4 WM, can be used, giving the KDE4 window decorations but without the Plasma desktop.
Editing the widget layout.
It’s worth noting that nowhere on the website does it actually say that recreating KDE3 is an goal of the Razor-QT project. However, lots of commentators are clamoring for it to take on such a role, and as a QT based desktop environment, it does seem like a fairly good fit. However, apart from a few small utilities, it doesn’t have anything to offer in the way of original applications, and applications are half of what has always made KDE so great. Perhaps, if they really do want to recreate KDE 3, they could hijack some of the KDE 3 era apps or adopt other ones. For example, it doesn't come with an email client or a file manager at the moment. If you installed the current version of KMail, you'd end up bringing along all of the Akonadi and Nepomuk baggage that has turned a sizable contingent of former KDE users away. In same way, you could add Konqueror as a file manager, but the KDE 4 version of Konqueror isn't quite the same as the KDE 3 version that we all loved.
At the present time, Razor-qt is competent but somewhat incomplete. It’s difficult to recommend it as anything other than a curiosity as there are other WMs and DE that are more comprehensive and equally light on resources. However, that’s not to put the project down, and I have a feeling that it’s worth watching. With Xfce and LXDE taking up the slack in terms of enabling a Gnome 2 era work-alike desktop, I wonder if during 2012, Razor QT might offer a sanctuary for old KDE 3 nostalgics like myself.
The (healthy looking) Razor-qt forum
UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.