It’s out. Yes, finally. This release has been a bit of a bumpy ride. First thing was that we decided to do the release two days later, because on Tuesday (the date we’d initially planned), we already had KDE 4.3.4 scheduled. Then, yesterday, Dirk, our package-it hero had to struggle with some build problems in various modules.
Still, this is not a perfect beta. When trying 4.4 Beta1, you might find yourself without compositing effects. This problem has crept up in the last two weeks, and we’ve been only able to fix it this morning, too late for the beta. It turned out to be a problem of stricter capability checking, along with a change of the driver version string reported by mesa. Dirk said, he’ll roll another set of source tarballs next week, so you’ll get your compositing effects back. In the meantime, please focus your testing on other problems.
Allen was concerned about a bug that prevents KOrganizer from starting. We though about disabling KDE PIM for this beta, but in the end left it all in since we do want applications tested, buggy or not.
As you see, we’ve clearly shifted focus from get-your-features-in-mode to bugfix-mode. I’ve had a quick look at the statistics. In the past six months, we’ve closed about 18000 bugs in KDE’s bugzilla. Since the release of KDE 4.3.0, we’ve been able to close about 12400 issue reports. Over the last 7 days, we’ve closed about 900 bugreports. I think we should aim at 20000 closed bugreports until the release of 4.4.0 in February.
A “closed” bug means that a bug is either fixed, a duplicate of another bug that has been fixed, or that the bug cannot be fixed in KDE itself. This is the case for upstream (and sometimes also downstream) problems that really need a fix elsewhere. Some bugreports will also be marked “invalid” or “wontfix”, in which case the bug is actually not a bug (that happens :)). In any case, it means that we’ve triaged the bug and looked into it. Bugzilla is one of the important ways to feed back information to the KDE developers.
Of course you can help with the bug-hunting. Collecting data from a large variety of people, systems and usage scenarios is important to find corner-cases developers weren’t able to test or just didn’t think of. Please report those issues you run into! When doing so, for developers it saves a lot of work if you have a good look if your bug is already reported, don’t assume it is, but also don’t assume it isn’t.
When you’ve reported a bug, it’s helpful when you’re responsive to emails and check on your bugreport once in a while. We might need further information, there are often workarounds, and in some cases, it’s helpful for fixing a bug if we have short feedback cycles with someone who’s actually experiencing an issue to check further, or maybe ask to run a patch. The better your bugreport is, the easier it is for us to fix it.
Of course, KDE being Free Software, you can have a go at fixing some problem yourself, the source code is readily available, and if you know a bit about programming, issues are often easy to find and fix. In general, I find the KDE source code to be easily readable and understandable. In doubt, you can always ask another developer for directions, on IRC or one of the -devel mailinglist.
So, what’s so significant about KDE Software Compilation 4.4? Well, it’s a huge package of software, dozens of applications, a kick-ass development platform and an organic and usable desktop shell. One of the more noticeable changes that really cover all applications are probably the subtle transition effects that have been added to the Oxygen widget style and window decorations.
Another doublepluscool feature is the tabbed window manager. This new feature makes it possible to group arbitrary windows using tabs. You can now simply drag a window with the mouse wheel pressed onto another window and they’ll be grouped in tabs. The tabs are part of the window decoration, detaching windows works in the same way. Another very nice feature is the edge snapping. Dragging a window against the left or right border will put it on one the of side of the screen, exactly at half of the width. Dragging against the top edge will maximize a window. This way, you can easily tile (and group, with window tabbing) arbitrary windows.
I’ve stumbled across a nice video of some of the visual changes in KDE Plasma 4.4, you can find it here: