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Comment of 30 November 1998
Review of the K Desktop Environment

The comment I received most often in response to my article about Linux and the consumer market was, "Have you looked at KDE (the K Desktop Environment) yet?" No, I hadn't, but I downloaded it and installed it. Herewith my comments, to which I will gladly accept any comments and feedback that you may have. Please note: these are my personal opinions. Your mileage may vary.

A quick summary of my experience:

For the hard-core Linux folks who want to know exactly what I installed, here's the list of the modules (they are all .i386.rpm files):


This review has three major sections (due to the number of graphics):

The Desktop

KDE desktop Here is a screenshot of the KDE desktop; you may click the image to see it at full size (800 by 600).
This desktop strikes an excellent balance between the Macintosh and Windows interfaces. It has just enough elements of each to allow a Macintosh or Windows user to feel comfortable with the system right away. It's still different enough, though, that both groups will have to learn new things, and neither will be fooled into thinking that they are using an actual Macintosh or Windows system. Note: Macintosh and Windows are both registered trademarks of their respective owners. I am only putting this in so I don't get a tort in the mail from Redmond.

KDE folders The icons at the left of the screen look like the ones on the latest version of the Macintosh operating system

KDE Taskbar The taskbar is similar to the one in Windows 95, but it is at the top of the screen rather than the bottom. The Windows users feel comfortable with the taskbar; Macintosh users look to the top of the screen for the "applications in use" menu.

KDE panel
The control strip, called the panel in KDE, combines the desktop manager and an application launcher. It looks like the Macintosh version and occupies the same area of the screen. The icons are smaller than those in the AfterStep wharf. If you click on the bar at the left, the entire panel folds away to a very unobtrusive area, unlike the AfterStep wharf, which folded down to a 64 x 64 icon.

The icons which have small up-arrows on them produce menus when you click them, thus giving the Windows user the good feeling of the "start" menu. See a picture of the panel with menus and submenus

More about the Desktop
KDE Applications
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