Alpha Code Shows a Strong KDE 3.2 Ahead

Update delivers impressive web browser and file manager improvements.

The KDE Projects KDE 3.2, which eWEEK Labs reviewed in its initial alpha release, should impress companies countenancing desktop Linux deployments.

Along with GNOME, which we reviewed in its 2.4 beta edition last week, K Desktop Environment is one of the two most popular graphical environments for Linux, so changes in KDE can affect users more directly than updates to software subsystems.

In the alpha version we tested, KDE 3.2 impressed us with improvements to its Konqueror Web browser and file manager and with the addition of a handful of new applications, including Kopete, a multiprotocol instant messaging client.

KDE 3.2 Alpha 1

The KDE Projects KDE 3.2, which we looked at in alpha form, continues to improve the open-source desktop experience--particularly KDEs file manager and its Konqueror Web browser. Whats more, KDE 3.2 sports a useful new crop of K-named applications, such as a wireless networking configuration tool. For installing and testing this release, we recommend using Konstruct.

  • PRO:Tabbed browsing improved in Konqueror; multiprotocol IM client.
  • CON: Kontact groupware programs user interface is rough; software didnt compile with Xft2 by default.

• GNOME 2.4

As wed expect from an alpha release, we experienced a number of application crashes during tests. However, we found this version of KDE pretty stable overall and certainly stable enough to use on a spare system for testing.

The alpha code we tested is available for free download in source code form at KDE 3.2 should be available in December, with compiled packages available through Linux distributors that ship KDE.

For our test, we used an application called Konstruct (available at, which automates the code download and compile process. Konstruct is based on the same bits as Garnome, the application we used to acquire and install GNOME for our review in last weeks issue. We highly recommend Konstruct for testing pre-release versions of KDE as well.

As compiled on our test system, KDE lacked support for Xft2, a font subsystem that dramatically improves font rendering and eases installation.

By comparison, the version of GNOME we tested last week compiled with Xft2 support by default. With more time spent tinkering, we probably could have enabled Xft2 on our KDE test system; the version of KDE that Red Hat Inc. ships with its Linux distribution supports Xft2, and it makes the software much more pleasant to use.

Next page: Hail the Konqueror