KDE 3.2 Gains Speed, Loses Bugs

The KDE Project releases Version 3.2 of its KDE desktop software for Linux, with improved performance, new apps and bug fixes.

Improved performance, new applications and new bug fixes highlight the changes in Version 3.2 of the KDE Projects KDE desktop software for Linux, which KDE released Tuesday.

The release, available for free download at KDEs Web site, has been the default user interface for several Linux distributions, including SuSE Linux, Knoppix, Lindows and Mandrake Linux.

George Staikos, a KDE core developer, told eWEEK via e-mail that a goal of the developers was to integrate the Safari code into KHTML, as well as making general performance improvements including startup times.

"Groupware was also a big focus," Staikos said. "As you can see from the feature list for KDE 3.2, we have a very wide range of changes and improvements. Given the size of KDE, its hard to have a universal focus for any given release. Its more often the case that developers just continue along developing the components that they feel are most important or most in need of work."

The distribution adds several new applications: JuK, a media player with support for the Ogg Vorbis standard and MP3; Kopete, an instant messaging application that can connect to the most popular networks; Kontact, which ties together KDEs office applications into a single personal information manager (PIM); and KGpg, used to secure files and messages with cryptography. In addition, KDE developers added applications such as a means of storing passwords.

/zimages/1/28571.gifFor a review of the alpha code of KDE 3.2, check out "Alpha Code Shows a Strong KDE 3.2 Ahead."

Additional tweaks include inline spell checking for Web forms, an improved KDE Kiosk environment management system, and a new "Plastik" GUI that ties it all together. The developers also hinted that the release includes a new configuration system that could be used as a foundation for new installation management utilities in the future. File management windows now include tabbed browsing, as does the Web interface.

Staikos said the improvements to the KDE browser now put the distribution on par with others in the market. "There have been extensive Javascript improvements in the past year," he said. "I think were comparable to the other browsers out there. As far as HTML rendering goes, there have been many merges from Apples tree, and many more are still going in now. Were catching up very quickly after a bit of a slow period earlier in 2003. Overall, Konqueror has developed very quickly, and is a serious competitor as a Web browser."

KDE also adds more tools for software developers, such as new versions of the KDevelop suite, API support and improved UML support for 11 languages.

Finally, KDE added KPpg, a security feature that places a KDE interface on top of the open-source "gpg" tool. Due to a bug in KWin, however, the passphrase dialog appears behind the Konqueror window; the developers have posted a fix to the KDE Web site.

"[KPpg is] a great tool for managing your PGP keys and setup, but it also works very well as a general file encryption tool," Staikos said.

KDE 3.2 is currently available in 42 languages, with partial translations in at least 32 others; some of those translations are expected to be completed during KDE 3.2s lifespan.