KDE 4.5, through my GNOME eyes.

Such is the power of the Internet that I can actually feel you wincing as you read that title.

So I’ve had a play with the KDE 4.5 Live CD and thought I’d share my first impressions, coloured by the fact that I’m currently using the GNOME desktop environment on my installation of Linux Mint. There’s also an available version of Mint with KDE, but my understanding is that it’s the latest release of OpenSUSE that provides the most up-to-date KDE experience.

Ready? Let’s do this…

Network Connections

Critical to any live CD is support for my WPA-encrypted home WiFi network. OpenSUSE did not disappoint.

Widget/Plasmoid Menu

A big selling point for KDE is Plasmoids — they’re similar to the desktop widgets available for OS X, but instead of being invoked through a hidden menu they live permanently on the desktop. For example, that desktop folder you see in the grab above isn’t actually an open file manager window, but a Plasmoid.

So why does the bar along the bottom of the screen use the term “Widgets” instead of Plasmoids? I think it’s because the Plasmoids are native to KDE, but there’s additional support for the likes of Google Gadgets and even the aforementioned OS X widgets.


This is the KMenu. Kindly note that:

  1. You can “tear” it off of the bottom navigation bar with the “Alt” key.
  2. You can navigate both forwards and backwards through the many layers of menus and sub-menus. See that highlighted blue vertical bar on the left?
  3. The KDE button in the top right corner of the menu that looks suspiciously like a web link is indeed just that.
  4. According to the second-last menu item, OpenSUSE comes with a pre-installed virtual machine (!)


Continuing with the KDE/OpenSUSE compatibility check, it looks like my wireless HP printer will work without issue.

Samba Shares

Same goes for my NAS, via OpenSUSE’s built-in Samba client.

By the way, the folder icons aren’t that huge by default — I resized them for the screen grab, and in so doing was fairly impressed by KDE’s snappiness in re-drawing windows.


And while system-wide emoticons may not constitute a killer feature, I think it’s kind of a cool touch.

Overall it seems the KDE has many more options for customization built-in, whereas with GNOME they’re available separately (depending on your specific distro, of course). I’m not knocking one over the other, but I am planning on giving OpenSUSE and KDE a trial run on my main box after I make my backups at the end of the month.

Or sooner if I can’t stand the wait.


  1. So when can we expect MOAR? Personally I’m a GNOME user (although I’m typing this on a Mac right now >_>), I tried KDE with OpenSuSE and just couldn’t find myself using it. So I’m interested in what you end up with.

  2. “I am planning on giving OpenSUSE and KDE a trial run on my main box after I make my backups at the end of the month.”

    On Fedora and Ubuntu, You can install both Gnome and KDE.

  3. Thanks for the tip, but I already knew this. From the first paragraph:

    “There’s also an available version of Mint with KDE, but my understanding is that it’s the latest release of OpenSUSE that provides the most up-to-date KDE experience.”

  4. You can easily install multiple desktop environments in openSUSE as well from the installer or via YaST. Gnome doesn’t currently work with KDM in the sense that on shutdown, the system returns to KDM, but KDE works fine with GDM. This issue has been filed with Novell.

  5. So, You do not have to use any extra widgets if you do not want them. But atleast there is the option for those who do.

  6. I’m stuck on mint gnome.. it always works. I gave the latest Suse and Fedora another try but getting my wireless to work is more headache than plugging in my flash drive and getting what I really want in 10 mins.

  7. 1)Different wallpapers AND widgets for each workspace
    2)Activities that give another dimension to the 1) (aka different activities with a different set of workspaces that have different wallpapers and widgets!)
    3)Tabbed and tabbing applications.
    4)Wallpapers that can be the whole earth rotating.
    5)Better start-up menu with built-in search option AND fancier file manager (dolphin)

    These are five things that make KDE so much better than Gnome.
    Yes!You need a 4 core system with 8 giga of memory to enjoy the full potential of KDE!
    Yes!Gnome 3 promises to reinvent itself!
    Yes!We have to wait till KDE 4.7 to have a really stable-responsive-fast KDE!

    But KDE is clearly the future of GUI in linux and so much ahead of the competition!
    And I write as a person that loves Gnome…

  8. Long time KDE user here, Moved to Gnome due to the fact that KDE Never stabilises… it is always buggy. Beautiful… but Buggy….

  9. I have ran KDE and tested all its beta’s and release on ever version. from SUSE, Fedora, Mint KDE and list goes on. Kubuntu year ago was worst KDE of them all in my book. But Today as of this writing it blows away all the rest if your running KDE. Linux Mint KDE= non matching graphics, Suse= slow response on some systems, updates have issues, Fedora minor glitches in graphics, Poor respitory compared to Ubuntu’s. Gbatmarx is very wrong on 4 core 8 giga system. I am running Kubuntu 10.04 on 250 dual core with 2 gig ram. ever single aspect of it is blazing fast. Wireless, multi screen, Digital Camera, Printer, Eve, Wow on wine gaming, And it is absolutly flawless. ram used with full install is lil over 400 meg at peak. cpu holds on launches at 76%. multi launches 100% for less then 2 seconds. I do not know what the Kubuntu is doing over there that has completely changed There distro. But keep up the good work. one last note about suse. be prepared for liscense aggreements to aggree to and as for kde it offers a system info that is pretty sweet but as for performance compared to kubuntu. It lacks 2-3 seconds behind on 80% of the features as for speed. Topped with Kubuntu uses ubuntu’s massive repo makes it the most viable distro today for KDE.

  10. Hmm – I’m running Slackware on a dual-core 32-bit lenovo desktop with 1G ram (just recently upgraded from 512M ram that worked fine for about 4 years). KDE on it runs great, so don’t know where you got the idea that you need a quad-core 4G setup for KDE. The only thing you need is a supported accelerated graphics card (like intel or nvidia)

  11. I really want to use KDE 4.5 but it’s just a BIT to powerful for my machine. I think I need an upgrade first. After a while of working in the desktop intensively between tasks, compositing decides to switch itself off.

  12. Sorry, but this is simply not true. I’ve switched from GNOME to KDE with KDE 4.4 and there is not much difference in stability between thee two. On the other hand KDE does offer a lot more modern desktop experience and has a lot more features. And as you said it looks so much more beautiful.

  13. Yeah GNOME looks pretty ugly as a first install, but take a little time to beautify it and it looks fan-freakin-tastic. KDE looks amazing and like Andrew said it offers more functionality out of the box, I personally just couldn’t handle it, for me it over complicates everything. But hey that’s just me, isn’t the beauty of Linux that it can be everything for everyone?

  14. I wrote:”You need a 4 core system with 8 giga of memory to enjoy the full potential of KDE!”
    and the key words are “the full potential”
    I did not claim that you can’t run kde on lower machines!
    But, because I did see kde to run on a 4 core sustem with 8 giga RAM I thought:”wow, This is the system I need to run kde the way I want
    (6 workspaces with 6 activities aka 36 different set of wallpapers and 72 widgets running simultaneously!)

    Sorry if I did not made my case clear from the begining…

  15. Running openSUSE 11.3 with KDE 4.4 with 2GB of RAM… the entire system runs quicker/faster/snappier than it did with 11.2. I was hesitant of 11.3, but thus far, I’m very impressed.

  16. There is no doubt that it is very pretty to look at, but to me it mostly looks like a lot of wasted CPU cycles. (then again, I have compiz enabled, so I guess I’m not one to judge). I’ve been slowly heading back to XFCE on my systems, but we’ll see if that lasts. Honestly, the main reason for me to run KDE natively is Amarok. That’s the only app I like that requires all those silly KDE libraries to be installed and loaded.

  17. The eyes hurt whenever I see that KDE style. Something is wrong, I don’t know what.

    And which idiot thought it’s a good idea to have a random folder display on the desktop? Scrollbars on the desktop? Seriously??

  18. Wow. Just installed KDE under Linux Mint. I have now decided to remove Gnome and run under KDE full time. I find it much faster and robust that Gnome. It is also intuitive. I have tried KDE several times in the past, but always come back to Gnome. They are both excellent, but for where each is right now in their development, I am going to stick with KDE for a while.

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