Saturday, February 24, 2007

Appreciating KDE More

Since I've been Windows XP daily for the last two and a half weeks, due to my new job, I've come to appreciate KDE all the more. I was actually expecting to adjust to using Windows pretty quickly (I haven't regularly used Windows for over five years) - after all, Microsoft throws millions of pounds at it, so it must be a good system, despite what people say. But every day when I come home and boot back into Linux, I'm amazed at how much better nearly everything is. Admittedly, there are a few things from Windows I'd like to find in Linux, but there are far more things I want take take from Linux/KDE and put in Windows. Even simple things like resizing a window - I'm so used to pressing Alt+right-click to resize that I find it quite annoying that I can't do that in Windows. (I'm quite expecting someone to tell me of an addon which does this now.) And KDE just feels more solid to use, and more streamlined, and more productive and slicker and faster, and all-round better. Yay for KDE!

I'm looking forward to version four. I've been keeping an eye on SVN and things are looking pretty cool. It's still too much of a moving target for me to contribute at the moment (I don't have much time at the moment as I have a new job, and need to be learning about work code rather than KDE code right now), but I'm quite excited about the future of KDE.

Friday, February 09, 2007

New Things

I just noticed that my feed is back on Planet KDE. So I'm crossing my fingers that Blogger won't screw everything up again.

I now have a new job, which is as a Software Architect. And it's a very cool company to work for, and I'm coding in Java, so I'm enjoying it a lot.

One of the first things I got at this job was a new laptop. It's a Dell Inspiron 9400, with 2Gb of RAM, 100Gb of hard drive space, a 1920x1200 17" display and built in Intel wireless and bluetooth. And it has an Intel graphics card too, which is great, because it means I get to use open source drivers.

The downside is that it has Windows XP installed on it, which I have to use at work. Which means I will now be becoming a big advocate of making sure KDE4 will work on Windows. I'd forgotten just how awkward so many Windows programmes are. Things I particularly miss are konversation, kopete, kmail, rsibreak, knotes, knetworkmanager, kio, alt-clicking to move windows, alt-right clicking to resize them... and the list goes on. At least I get to use IntelliJ IDEA to develop in. It might not be FOSS, but it is a fantastic piece of software and well worth paying for, if you're a professional Java developer.

When I'm not at work however, I get to run Linux. I'm not allowed to dual-boot my machine, but fortunately the laptop supports booting off USB devices, so I've connected an external USB drive to the machine and installed openSUSE on that. I had a few problems getting grub to boot properly - as grub renumbers its drives when it boots from USB, and openSUSE's installer doesn't take that into account. And then I had problems getting the 1920x1200 resolution to work, but I managed to sort that out using 915resolution. So now I have an awesome linux box to play with. (I'll post details off how I got everything working properly later).

I ran hdparm and compared my external 4200rpm drive with the internal 5200rpm one, and with the internal 7200rpm drive on my old machine. And the speeds of unbuffered reads were pretty much proportional to the speeds of the drives, while buffered reads were three times faster on the new machine than the old one. So having the drive on a USB connection seems to be having nearly no impact on performance. Which is nice. I just have to be very careful not to disconnect the drive while it's in use.

Since I have a second external drive, I'm thinking of installing another, cut down version of linux on it, specifically for developing KDE4 on. I want to have KDE3 installed in such a way that KDE4 won't see it at all - so no references to any of it in /etc. I don't want any KDE3 apps to show up in the menus of KDE4, and I don't want any clever openSUSE modifications to things - I want it to be pretty much a standard Linux installation. So I have to decide - should I use Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo or Debian? Or something else?