KDE 4.2
KDE 4.2

Some of the folks behind the KDE Linux desktop environment are putting their heads together and trying to come up with a new interface designed especially for netbooks. The goal is to have something ready to go by the time KDE 4.4 is released (The latest version of KDE is KDE 4.2.2). According to developer Aaron Seigo, here are some of the goals:

  • The interface will be specific to netbooks, and not just designed for computers with small screen displays (This could mean integration with web services, or something else altogether. It depends on what Seigo and his colleagues consider to be the purpose of netbooks).
  • Support for the KDE Plasma interface
  • There should be a full screen interface, presumably both for any sort of program launcher and for the applications themselves

In the comments of his own blog post, Seigo mentions that he sees netbooks as devices that are designed to run “specific types of tasks, usually one at a time.” Honestly, it sounds to me like Seigo is confusing netbooks with cellphones. As much as I’d like to see more people working on unique interfaces for netbooks, part of what makes them special is the fact that they are computers that can handle multi-tasking responsibilities better than any cellphone on the market.

If you want to listen to music while instant messaging your friends with Pidgin, checking your email with Thunderbird, and surfing the web with Firefox, you can do that on a netbook. There may not be enough screen real estate to comfortably accommodate all of those windows at once, but it should be easy to flip back and forth between running programs. That doesn’t have to mean using a Windows style taskbar or an OS X style dock. But I’m hoping that when Saigo talks about “one at a time” tasks, he’s not ruling out the possibility of easily running tasks in the background and flipping back and forth.

via Netbook News.de

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14 replies on “KDE 4.4 could include custom netbook interface”

  1. I’m not going to pass judgment until I at least see some kind of mock up. I do like that someone is taking as many chances with desktop design as KDE is, though. Between it and some of the ideas for Windows 7, it’ll be good for the experimenters among us.

  2. I believe Aaron Seigo, when saying “one at a time”, actually thinks about one particular app/task taking whole focus (screen area) when used; with other tasks hidden nicely in the background (you actually can’t do much more when it comes to “single taskness” on KDE, with how much it is doing…)

    Seems like a convoluted way to describe what most users do already? Well, yes and no…people used to *nix OSes (not only KDE, not even only Linux…also other BSDs, even OSX) are used to managing windows of apps in a different way than Windows users (and actually…Windows users mostly just maximise the app; since their OS offers hardly any window management…); opting often to more “multi window” workflow…also made possible by more advanced (and extremely diverse) window managers.

    I suspect Seigo wants to do something geared specifically for convenient “fullscreen” usage of apps.

    1. You point out one of the major differences between nearly all *nix (X11) window managers
      and Windows – – all except the simplest support more than one desktop.

      This old (3.5) version of KDE shows that it supports 20 desktops (I am using 6 now).
      I don’t have a copy of XFCE booted at the moment, but even it supports multiple desktops.

    1. Probably more of a subjective question than a technical one – – YMMV *a lot*

      For people (like myself) that considers these NetBook things to be a
      convenience item – give me something like xPUD that starts about as fast
      as a light bulb, gives me access to my most frequently used 4 applications
      plus a button to boot a full distribution . . .

      That is my usage model for these little machines.
      (And I have used KDE since the days it was called K-crash.)

    2. I haven’t read much of the link, but I run Kubuntu 8.10 (with KDE4) on my acer aspire one and my desktop and it works great (except for the screen being to short for the bottom of some windows to fit on the screen. Errrrr) I ran KDE 3.5 before and I think KDE 4.2 is a real improvement, although it’s still a little rough around the edges (kind of like OS X 10.1). KDE 4.0 (and even 4.1) weren’t ready for prime time, but I think it’s getting there now.

    3. Even if its a total failure, there is always merit in people trying to innovate and experiment. Remember, this project is still very much in the experimental phase and may change significantly. But I think it has the potential to prove popular on small screens since that is what they have in mind and broad feedback so far has been positive.

  3. KDE 4x is using a whole bunch of resources (not that thin). Crunchbang and other simpler LINUX is wonderful because of low ram use and how fast it is on netbooks.

    KDE 4.x is still a work in progress and not really fun to use on computers with low end resources (maybe they can do a few things to make a netbook version a bit better)?

    Can’t wait for ARM and Pixel Qi, with touchscreen on a 10 inch netbook. Only months away from maybe finding out if any major netbook maker is working with Pixel Qi.

  4. running kubuntu 9.04 nicely multitasking on eee pc’s …
    one at time …. blunt bullshit. each browser with several tabs/windows open is already heavily multitasking.

  5. heh. linux playing catchup with microsoft in the field of limiting the options available to netbook users?

    1. Obviously you haven’t seen the demo of KDE’s Plasma netbook desktop. It hasn’t even reached the alpha stage yet and people are already raving about its enormous potential. And its not about limiting the user at all, such thinking is the antithesis of KDE. Its about flexibility, and Plasma has the flexibility and power to deliver any type of interface for any situation. Windows in its current form is literally years behind KDE in that respect and would require a fundamental and radical redesign to compete with KDE’s Plasma shell on various devices.

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