Going wild with KDE 4.1 themes.

whiteish theme

Now KDE 4.1 is out, I’ve played around a bit with different themes. I’ve installed the KDE artwork package, and a couple of themes via GetHotNewStuff. KDE’s coloring system has seen quite a lot of love, as has Plasma’s theming engine. The results are quite impressive, as you can see in the screenshots.

First off, a bright setup with full-width, pretty standard panel. The Plasma theme used here is Aya, I’ve made the window background colors a bit lighter, just for more intense shininess. Those bright colors also go quite well with the “Glassified” color scheme, but I found it lacking some ‘whitespace’. The screenshot shows some integration bits as well, the context menu offers to install the package using Ubuntu’s gdebinstaller. The GTK+ theme blends in nicely with the colors I’ve set up. (Without me even tweaking it).

If you want to go out in black tonight, the Obsidian color scheme is what you want. The Plasma theme used here is Elegance. I personally don’t really like dark widget themes, although I find it OK in a konsole. There’s also a second panel on the left with some buttons and info, so the whole width of the taskbar in the bottom panel can be used for applications.

Norway theme

The Norway color scheme combined with the Aya Plasma theme. I’ve made the panel shorter, centered and a bit higher. People seem to like it that way as well, though I don’t understand what the fuzz about such panels is. It tends to create dead corners, and what’s better than slapping your mouse bottom-left and typing into kickoff? The colors are nice and warm, and some utilities such as a calculator, online dictionary and calendar can be found on the desktop.

The Wonton Soup color scheme is dark, but not quite as dark as Obsidian, it has a bit more contrast than Obsidian as well, and looks a bit softer.

The wallpapers used here should be available with KDE 4.1 install, some might be in the kdeartwork module. The tools I’ve used for theming the desktop are the Appearance module in System Settings (especially the color pages). The widget style used in those screenshots is Oxygen, the Plasma themes vary though. Aya is especially nice and flexible, as it bases its color on the widget colors you can tweak in System Settings. I still have some garbage in the systray, unfortunately. It’s not that bad all the time, on the upside :)

Thoughts on innovation on the desktop.

If you want everything handed to you on a silver platter, go take a cruise
While surfing around on Teh Intarwebs, I’ve read complaints from people that we’re doing
something radically new to the user. Some of those users seem to have problems with all
that “radically new” stuff. Honestly, I don’t think they have seen anything we *can* do
yet. With KDE 4.1, we have pretty much implemented functionality that was there, made
applications smarter, and polished the looks. Almost all of the work on the UI,
especially in Plasma has been put into recreating functionality from KDE 3.5. What is so
radically new to it? Having a shallow look, both — KDE3 and KDE 4.1 have quite a
similar interface. Panel with tasks in it, an application starter menu, a simple clock
with a calendar, a virtual desktop switcher and the systray. Just about
everything is in the same place where people using KDE 3 used to find it. And in
4.1, you’ll have icon groups on your desktop that work just like kdesktop’s
filemanager, only a bit more flexible. Overall nice improvements, but certainly
nothing radically new as a whole. That’s probably as far as it can get with
re-creating the traditional desktop. Nobody wants to create an exact copy of KDE
3 at this point anyway. If we would have wanted that, we wouldn’t have started
this journey that is KDE4.

Yet nobody wants to take away the traditional desktop from the users. That’s why
KDE 4.1 looks like it is. It’s a relatively conservative traditional desktop. If
you look at the KDE 4.0.4 implementation of openSUSE, it’s even very close to
how KDE 3.5 looks like and works. Besides that, you have enough choice to run
any traditional desktop around, whether that’d be KDE3, GNOME, XFCE, or whatever
you like. And in August, we’ll release KDE 3.5.10 for those that prefer 3.5.
See, we’re nice people, we’re not abandoning 3.5. We don’t want you to move.
It’s completely up to you. KDE 3.5 is rocksolid and works really well in many
aspects. KDE 4 has not reached its full potential yet. You will be able to
decide yourself when it’s time to move to KDE4, if ever. And if you happen to
fall in love with KDE4 applications, which is quite possible, they also run just
fine in KDE 3.

Surely the developers do need some room for innovation and trying out new
ideas. It would be strange if we kept adhering to all those traditions and
copied 3.5. And it’s why we created KDE 4 in the first place. Two years ago I
talked with a Canadian friend on the phone about KDE 4 and Plasma in particular.
The idea was back then to create a desktop that is backwards compatible with
what people are used to, yet offers new cool stuff that gets you hooked. With
KDE 4.1 we’ve probably reached this goal. A desktop that’s pretty close to 3.5’s

Regarding those relatively small adjustments we’ve made to the desktop
shell, one could wonder what some people say when their filemanager and
applications start dealing with information, rather than with data
understanding relationships between information, people, … and works with
metadata and semantics, rather than a hierarchic filesystems. (that’s what
nepomuk might bring us at some point) What about when we start blurring the
lines between the desktop, the network and other devices. Will people start
freaking out then?

A couple of days ago, I read that 166 new SVN accounts have been created in
the last 6 months, that’s a lot of new blood. That’s 166 people that plan to
contribute to KDE codebase on a regular basis. And those are people that are
obviously attracted by the direction KDE is taking.

So what will KDE 4.2 look like? Judging by what the Plasma team has
accomplished in the last couple of months and the magic crystal ball, we might
see some mighty cool new things. I’m certainly looking forward to integrated
uiserver and Plasma notification applet, the concepts of detachable extenders
and Plasma’s ZUI integrated with KWin and generally made more polished.

I’m sure KDE 4.1 will be a blast, and if people still complain that it
doesn’t do exactly the same as 3.5, we can probably never get it right for some.
I’ve personally always found KDE a friendly bunch of people that like creating
cool and free technology together. Let’s concentrate on just that. Happy hacking!

Props to Wade for the picture.

Plasma while I’m away.

Google Gadgets running inside Plasma
So without being able to have a look, Plasma is still progressing at an amazing
pace. Last wednesday, before I left to Belgium for
Rock Werchter I mailed Marijn (who
is the student working on Plasma on Small Form Factor (SFF in Ade-language) my N810
so he can look into getting Plasma going on that device. Returning, I see
a blog
of his showing Plasma running on Maemo on the N810
. Awesome. I’m looking forward to
trying it and be able improve plasmoids for this formfactor. Being able to see your
own code on a new device is also quite cool, I must say.

Next, as far as I can see, with consent of the release team, we managed to put one
more new feature a lot of people wanted to see into Plasma in trunk/ — meaning
this will make it into the upcoming KDE 4.1 release. So now you can move applets on
the panel. Yay!

In other Plasma-news, Dong Tiger has been working on support for Google Gadgets
in Plasma, and it’s coming along nicely as you can see in the screenshot. A couple
of things still have to be solved, how to install them in the most intuitive way?
The Google Gadgets are using a QWidget subclass that does rendering and input even
redirection (by mean of Widgets-on-Canvas). So, support for many, many more
widgets is coming up and Plasma seems to be becoming The Shell To Rule Them All.

Disclaimer: Support for moving widgets on the panel is going into 4.1.
Support for running Plasma on Maemo will probably not be included with KDE 4.1,
neither will support for Google Gadgets be.
(Those disclaimers apparently are
necessary to prevent confusion among those not reading developer blogs carefully


Just over two hours ago, I returned from Belgium where I was at
one of those (watch out, sucky flash
content with far too long animations) large
European summer rock festivals, together with about 80.000 others. It was a blast.
I’ve most enjoyed the Chemical Brothers’ concert, which was late on Thursday
night, they actually played until after half past three. Their show was quite
“electronic” and very, very “phat”, with lots of references to bands such as
Kraftwerk(“We are the robots, dum-tutu-dumdum!”). It was also
good to see them not doing too much of their breakbeat numbers in the style of
their early works, but coming up with refreshing new sounds, and using the
stage and its rather nice visual equipment to its full extent. I loved their
“Don’t look back” which probably makes for an awesome soundtrack for
Wade’s “don’t
look back” series of pictures
. I don’t know how licensing sound for something
like this looks like, though.

Other remarkable
bands I’ve seen and really enjoyed were Soulwax, Moby, Duffy, R.E.M., Kaiser Chiefs
(who probably won the prize for most drunk act). Radiohead did disappoint me a
little, but I guess that’s mostly due to their latest works being more “sofa music”
than something to dance at a festival. So after four days of camping, cherry beer,
music and pretty much void of shower, I’m back home, cleaned, took care of various
pets including my own body and cleaned the house a bit. Now catching up on emails
(which I probably won’t manage to finish today, so hang on a bit if I owe you a
message). I’m also updating my local installation from trunk/ right now to see
what you busy bees have been up to.