Saturday, 25 March 2017

KDE - PLASMA has lost the plot - STILL

I have been using Linux in one form or another for many years and in 1998 I changed all our business computers over to Red Hat Linux, except for a few that were maintained as Windows machines so that we could continue our tech support business.

The bulk of our repeat business has always come from Windows.  Various Unix systems we supported including Xenix and Posix, always just worked, so repeat business there was usually a new installation or upgrade of software, or installing and configuring some new hardware.

As we gradually converted our bigger 'ordinary' customers across to Linux for their server and networking needs, we got less work there as well.  But luckily the desktop was still dominated by Windows, so we still had plenty of software work.

Since Injuries and our rather inept governments forced me out of my businesses, I have had quite a few years now to devote to computing as an interest rather than as a job.  And this has allowed me to try many Linux distributions and desktops.  I was lucky enough to be involved int he early work, mostly testing,  of some of the distributions and my name still pops up all over the place on the net.

Which brings me to today's topic.  I Love KDE.  It had some glitches in its early days and it was slow and klunky for a while, but it has so many neat features that are simply not available in the other distributions, that is leaves everything including Windows and Mac, for dead.

But I do not understand the development team.  For example.  I am still using KDE 4.  I also have the new Plasma 5 desktop running on Linux Mint 18.1, but for my daily work I rely on KDE 4.13.12 running on Mint 17.3 with a Linux 4.8 kernel.

I have written before that Plasma 5 was pretty well useless for my day to day work, and I have now found a solution to most of the problems like the mouse leaving 'trails' all over the screen, something that deserves a short post of its own soon.

But the real problems are still there.  Plasma 5 is simply too primitive.  Let's look at a the most idiotic problems with Plasma 5, which either don't exist in Plasma 4, or can be fixed simply.

First, the lack of personalisation for the work spaces (desktops).
There is a good reason why a lot of us use different wallpaper on each desktop.  Apart form being pretty, we can see at a glance, which desktop we are on.  It is not terribly important in some ways, but from a productivity point of view, it can save tie and stress.

In KDE 4, each workspace can have its own wallpaper, and if you particularly want to, that can be extended further by choosing perhaps a slideshow on one, an image on another, a solid colour on the next.  You get the idea.  And it goes even further.  KDE 4 and Plasma 5 have something called 'Activities'.  These can also be configuired individually and each have separate workspaces that each have different wallpapers (including slideshows etc.)

But in Plasma 5, only the Activities can have their individual desktop wallpaper configured differently.  Once a wallpaper (or slideshow etc.) is applied to an Activity, it is locked across all work spaces (Desktops) linked to that particular Activity.
It is annoying and even frustrating.  And the Plasma team has decided it will never be fixed, because it is not a bug, it is a design feature.

And on to the next great failure.  This applies to KDE4 as well as Plasma 5, but in KDE 4, it can be remedied.

In Nautilus file manager in GNOME, there is a function that allows us to right click on an image, or images, and convert them in various ways, or resize them.  But it is not possible in Dolphin file manager!

Now, some bright spark many years ago wrote a little program called 'K Image Manager' that integrates a set of similar functions into the Dolphin context menu.  I saved a copy of it and have installed it ever since.

But, and this amazes me - It was NEVER built into Dolphin.  And even in this latest version of Dolphin that is in Plasma 5, there is no image handling built into the context menu.  Crazy, people.  Or just lazy.  It is almost as if the KDE project was handed to a group of kindergarten kids, along with some big crayons, hammers and scissors.

They have taken KDE 4, which is a perfectly good desktop, and screwed it so badly it might never work properly again.  And the worst thing is that KDE 4 is no longer being maintained.  In about two years time it will probably be dropped from all Linux distributions, and there is NOTHING to take its place..

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