Some days ago I was "forced" to remove all packages in my workstation due to massive revision bumps in pkgsrc. Since I had to install an environment for X, I decided to give KDE 3.5.1 a try.

The thing is that I hadn't used KDE seriously since I switched to GNOME 2.6 (ouch, that was two years ago... time passes really fast). Of course I installed it several times in this period and tried to use it, but I stopped the evaluation after a 5-minute ride. I didn't feel comfortable because I wasn't used to it and, to make things "worse", I could quickly escape to GNOME as it was installed alongside it, ready to be used again.

But... you know what? I'm discovering some impressive things in KDE. Overall, I like it very much, up to the point of maybe not switching back (with the exception of Mac OS X on the laptop, that is.) Let's see some of the things I've "discovered":

  • The audiocd kioslave: kioslaves are extensions for KDE's IO library, much like the methods for gnome-vfs. KDE has kioslaves for everything, but the audiocd one is impressive: it represents an audio CD as a virtual set of files in different formats, being OGG and MP3 among them. These files either represent a single track or the whole CD. Their names are guessed using the CDDB database. And you guessed right: ripping and encoding a CD is as easy as dragging and dropping those virtual files wherever you want!
  • File properties: Right clicking on a file and choosing properties shows the standard settings tabs, but also shows some that are specific to that file type. I found this useful to correct the tags in the OGG files I had ripped. (I don't know if GNOME currently has this; couldn't tell for sure.)
  • Consistency: Many typical options are in common places, no matter the application you are in. All common keybindings can be configured in a central place so that they affect all programs. OK, I know many GNOME utilities also have this integration in but this had to be mentioned.
  • Konqueror: I wish it could use Gecko as its rendering widget (I think it can, but don't know how) because, unfortunately, KHTML fails to render correctly some pages I visit often. Anyway, it makes an excellent browser and a handy file manager. Its address bar supports many shortcuts to quickly access several search systems.
  • K3B: At last, a decent CD and DVD burner for Unix systems. I know it has been around for a long while but it didn't work under NetBSD until very recently, so I couldn't use it.
  • Amarok: Neat music player. It's visually attractive and easy to manage. I like the way it can be globally controlled with keybindings and how simple it is to fetch lyrics.
  • Digikam: Good picture manager. Despite I tried an outdated version (0.7.0), it is still quite nice. Haven't had time to analyze it in detail yet, though.
  • Almost everything works. Kudos to Mark Davies (markd@) for his excellent work in porting KDE to NetBSD.
As a drawback, I still find KDE's interface too cluttered for my tastes. But I think I can live with this, specially because the interface can be simplified with some tuning effort. Not to mention that KDE 4 promises to be focused on usability... really looking forward to it!

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