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Sneak Peeks at openSUSE 11.0: KDE with Stephan Binner

June 17th, 2008 by

With openSUSE 11.0 just a few days away, it’s time to look at one of the stars of the show: KDE. In openSUSE 11.0, you get two KDEs for the price of one. Here we’ll take a look at what’s coming in KDE, and talk to one of openSUSE’s KDE contributors, Stephan Binner.

Looking at KDE in openSUSE 11.0

KDE 4.0.4

KDE 4.0.4 is the version of KDE shipping with openSUSE 11.0. It’s radically different from KDE 3.5 on the surface, as well as the technology behind the scenes. Dolphin is the default file manager, a new and simpler utility for users to manage their files. (Don’t worry, Konqueror is still available for your Web browsing and advanced file management needs!)

KDE 4 on openSUSE 11.0

KDE 4.0.4 on openSUSE 11.0

Systemsettings is a more usable replacement for KControl, to make system configuration much easier. KWin, the KDE window manager now supports desktop effects with KDE, easy to enable and use without loss of window manager integration or functionality.

The desktop shell and panels have been completely rewritten. The first thing KDE users will notice in KDE 4 is Oxygen, a new approach to artwork on KDE that brings a unified and attractive look to all KDE 4 interfaces, applications, icons, and themes.

After taking in the artwork, users will be able to take advantage of Plasma, the new desktop shell. Plasma provides the full desktop interface experience, from the KDE panel and menu, to desktop widgets (called Plasmoids) that offer a completely new level of functionality for KDE.

KDE 4.0 is still immature, with a few rough edges, and some of the configurability and features of KDE 3.5 are not yet implemented. KDE 4.0 was meant for early adopters, and developers porting applications to KDE 4. While the openSUSE KDE team has worked hard to polish KDE 4 and add some missing features, some users might prefer to stick with KDE 3.5. You can install both KDE 4 and KDE 3.5, so you can try the next-generation KDE out today, but fall back to 3.5 if you prefer.

KDE 4 is available on the openSUSE KDE live CD and via the DVD.

KDE Applications

KDE 4.0 doesn’t include KDEPIM (KMail, KOrganizer, Akregrator, KNode etc.), therefore openSUSE 11.0 includes beta versions of KDEPIM applications from KDE 4.1. These applications work fairly well, and will be updated to final versions via official online updates as soon as possible.

KMail Kontact To-Do

Not all KDE applications are ported to KDE4 yet, therefore KDE3 versions of applications such as Amarok, K3b, KOffice or KNetworkManager are used. They integrate pretty seamlessly. A native KDE4 NetworkManager applet is in development and will become available via openSUSE Build Service repositories.


The openSUSE KDE team have improved KDE 4.0 in various ways. For example it’s possible to move applets in the panel, Kickoff is polished, handling of desktop icons is improved, possibility to remove the debated toolbox/cashew via a non-gui option.

The Aya Plasma theme is used by default. If you’d prefer the official default black KDE theme it’s only a few clicks away. When using KDE 4.0 YaST2 will use an Oxygen icon theme for better integration with KDE 4.0. Furthermore YaST2 is ported to Qt4.

YaST in KDE 4

The new look of YaST

KDE 3.5.9

With all the talk about KDE 4, what about KDE 3.5? KDE 3.5 is the familiar, and stable, version of KDE that’s well-known and used by the majority of openSUSE users for years. Because KDE 3.5 is so popular, we’ve made sure that it’s available on the DVD media, via online network installation, and of course in the retail box set.

KDE 3.5

KDE 3.5 on openSUSE 11.0

New features in KDE3.5

Very little has changed in KDE 3.5 since openSUSE 10.3, but there are a few interesting new features. For example the KNetworkManager applet has been updated to use NetworkManager 0.7, which adds support for various advanced networking features. For example using static IP setup, or using more than one network interface card at the same time.

Improvements in KControl make it easier to select Compiz or even the KDE4 version of KWin, to provide 3-D desktop effects in KDE 3.5.

Of course KDE 3.5 in openSUSE 11.0 still boasts the host of enhancements that the openSUSE KDE team have created over the past years. For example the Kickoff menu, the Sysinfo:/ kioslave, Kerry Beagle frontend, to name just a few.

KDE 4.1

As we’ve already discussed, KDE 4.0 is still maturing and may lack features that experienced KDE users expect. However, KDE 4.1 will be much better in these respects and is expected to be released in late July. Shortly after the 4.1 release announcement, it will be available from the openSUSE Build Service repositories, enabling users to update via 1-click-install — albeit not officially supported. However, if you want to run the latest and greatest from KDE, you’ll be able to do so (and help testing as well!)

The next openSUSE release, openSUSE 11.1, should be out in December of this year and include a thoroughly tested and well-integrated KDE 4.1.x right out of the box.

Talk with Stephan Binner

openSUSE News: KDE 4.0.4 is the default KDE desktop in openSUSE. What made you decide to make it the default, instead of the more stable KDE 3.5.9?

Stephan Binner: There is no default desktop on openSUSE: during installation from DVD you are asked to make a choice — without default. If you use one of the installable live CDs you make the choice before the download of course.

Admitted, there exists no official live CD with KDE 3.5 (maybe someone from the community will create it?) because of resource constraints, and because we want to push people to try our KDE 4.0 based desktop. Also we want and need user feedback for the actively developed KDE series.

openSUSE News: What have been the main challenges working on KDE for openSUSE 11.0?

Much work went into making both KDE versions installable in parallel, and the applications of KDE3 work nicely under KDE4 and vice versa. That’s all the more important as not all KDE3 applications, including some maintained by openSUSE teams, have been ported to KDE4 yet. Many thoughts went also into a more granular packaging, for single application packages and to fit as many applications as possible on the live CDs.

openSUSE News: If you would highlight one detail of KDE4, what would it be?

Stephan Binner: Plasma. Because every KDE user will use it daily and the changes compared to KDE 3.5 are very visible. That’s both because it introduces new ways to interact with your desktop, panels and widgets and also because it’s the youngest of the central new KDE4 highlights (Dolphin, Kickoff and Systemsettings existed already as KDE3 versions before).

We put quite some effort into adding or back-porting features and polishing Plasma to make its feature set comparable to other non-KDE desktop shells. Plasma is also the part where the efforts which the team put into the KDE4 desktop are best distinguishable to other distributions which already shipped KDE4.

openSUSE News: Could you describe in how KDE will evolve in KDE 4.1?

Stephan Binner: Regarding the desktop KWin gains new effects and Plasma matures with introducing amongst other things a graphical way to configure panel layouts, a new approach to handle files on the desktop and a more powerful “Run Command” dialog. To learn about new features of each application best have a look at the KDE 4.1 Feature Plan and try our KDE 4.1 Beta packages in the Build Service or my KDE Four Live CDs.

Several new applications will become part of the KDE 4.1 release: kdepim 4.1 (Kontact & Co), a multimedia player (dragonplayer), a hex editor (okteta), a system log viewer (ksystemlog) and several games. You may notice that several of those are already included in openSUSE 11.0.

And not openSUSE related, the most popular KDE applications will become available on Windows and Mac platforms.

openSUSE News: And finally, any last reasons why people should install openSUSE 11.0 with KDE?

Stephan Binner: Because those two are the distribution and the desktop with the biggest momentum currently. :-)

Thanks to Martin Schlander and Jeff Eklund for contributing to this Sneak Peek.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

54 Responses to “Sneak Peeks at openSUSE 11.0: KDE with Stephan Binner”

  1. I’m disappointed that (like openSUSE 11.0) openSUSE 11.1 will be out shortly before a new major version of KDE 4 ; wouldn’t be possible to wait one month and have 4.2 which promises to be a very perfect replacement to 3.5 with HUGE exciting new things (like KDE PIM using akonady etc) ?

    • anon

      they’ll say no. but I agree. OpenSUSE needs to start looking and moving their releases back to accommodate the release of major KDE’s. Otherwise they will start loosing people to other distro’s

      • xploited

        Install openSUSE 11, wait one month and upgrade, it isn’t that hard really.

        • ThinkAgain

          It is not hard – I agree.

          Then why is it hard to officially support it?

          “Shortly after the 4.1 release announcement, it will be available from the openSUSE Build Service repositories, enabling users to update via 1-click-install — albeit not officially supported.”

          Again, with openSUSE 11.1, we will have to have a desktop which is not officially supported for another six months?

          When openSUSE is primarily a KDE distro, why not align its release dates to the release dates of KDE.

          It is not hard, again…

          If it happens once – aggreable

          If it happens again(openSUSE 11.1 with 4.1.x instead of 4.2) – Lack of commonsense.

        • There is always one brand new shiny, even more advanced version of your favorite software *just* around the corner. Wait for it, and we’ll never see a release again.

        • Erunno

          The problem is that a complex set of software packages like a desktop environment has to go through a solid testing period before it can be pushed onto an unsuspecting public. In order to get 4.1 into openSUSE 11.0, either by delaying the release or updating KDE via the update repositories, the openSUSE developers would have to forego alpha, beta and rc cycles in the vague hope that it will “just work (TM)”. We are not talking about “Obscure package #133454” here which might be annoying for some when it doesn’t work. The desktop environment (i.e. KDE in this case) is the primary interface to work with their computer for most people and extra care has to be taken in order to ensure that it will work flawlessly for as many people as possible.

          The solution that adventurous people can download the latest version from the build service is very reasonable.

        • Grósz Dániel

          walter: KDE is a very significant software that is used by the majority of openSUSE users. And not just one program but many programs through which KDE users interact with the computer most of the time.

          Erunno: I think it would be OK that openSUSE betas ship KDE betas, openSUSE RCs ship KDE RCs and openSUSE GM ships the KDE GM – as long as KDE uses the same definition of beta, RC and GM as openSUSE. (This was not the case with KDE 4.0 but it was a special case.)

        • Grósz Dániel

          Erunno: Ubuntu manages to ship the GNOME released in the same month with its releases and people don’t complain about it being unstable. KDE 4 needs more stabilization and polishing than GNOME but it can be started in the beta and RC months. as betas and RCs get only small fixes, these are not likely to interfere with openSUSE additions.

        • Francis Giannaros

          GNOME didn’t recently undergo a major and complete restructuring effort of a major release (like KDE4), so it’s just not practical to compare the release cycles.

          As for the general issue of KDE 4.1, as has been said countless times:
          * It was always not completely sure whether 4.1 would itself be delayed
          * The release schedule would have to be delayed by _two_ months at the least in order to get 4.1 in any reasonable fashion, which would make openSUSE’s 11.0 nearly a year-long cycle! Just not practical
          * openSUSE will still always have the best and most polished KDE4 packages. 4.1 will be available on the day with the easiest possible installation you can imagine (1-click-install).

          So don’t worry guys :-)

        • Grósz Dániel

          Francis: This is why it’s acceptable for 11.0. But if openSUSE will stay at a 6-month release cycle 1-2 months before KDE’s 6 months cycle while KDE is used by the majority of its users, it is not clever.

    • JM_Brazil

      I would rather get SuSE11 now rather than have to wait for an application release. OpenSUSE did teh right thing by pre-releasing 11 rather than wait for KDE4.1. We get a taste of 4.1 in 4, and when 4.1 is ready, we update. Simple as that. Supported or not, I would prefer to wait less time for new releases.

  2. Cris

    KDE4 looks great. I’ve tested the RC1 LiveCD and it works wonderful. It looks a little to lack features compared to 3.5.9 but probably I have a lot to discover about it. All in all is great environment.

    I guess it would be a lot later because there’s a lot of testing/polishing/adapting that is needed to run a flawless desktop environment. Just pushing out the newest software wouldn’t be such a good idea. There’s also stability to consider. And that’s why I’ve used openSuse for the past year and dropped Ubuntu, which, however, have solid roots in Debian and a great community. Delaying oS 11.1, and also keeping up to the expectations would mean to release it in March and we wouldn’t want that, would we :)

    • Grósz Dániel

      If I recall correctly it was said that openSUSE continues a 8-10 months release cycle, which would say January-March. It would make sense because there would be more time for feature development before the freeze period. Those who always want the newest software could still install it from the repos while those who install only the releases could enjoy more features in new releases with only 1-2 month more waiting.

  3. Jens Uhlenbrock

    Especially since I thought the release cycle was changed to 8 months. That would mean a 11.1 release in February with all the KDE 4.2 goodness. It’s a pity to hear that this will not be the case. However, releasing in December might be a good idea just because of the normal year-end Christmas holiday inertia in all the western world.

  4. Piotr

    I guess that is up to us, the community, to speed things up. If we help to test and polish stuff, the release cycle can be shorter and we can have early adoption of new technologies. Same goes for KDE, if it doesnt work as you like, fix it and contribute the fix. Nothing changes on it’s own.

  5. bico

    Hmmm… KDE 4.0 is so immature you have “to push people to try” it out. Changing things by force is not going to make users happy. I have seen software that was still alpha but was so good and useful, that you didn’t have to push anybody to try it. Anyway, the new openSUSE will worth the install because the ever-problematic/slow packaging is said to be solved in this release.

    • wjm

      Maybe I miss understand but I don’t get where KDE 4.0 is being pushed upon people? KDE 3.5.9 is still there in it’s full glory as it also will be supported.
      This way people have the choice and can move to KDE 4.x if and when suited. That KDE 3.5.x will eventually loose support is only natural, but that is not the issue for quite some time.

      Speaking for myself, I have been using openSUSE 11 starting beta2, an though it’s had some small issues overall it was already doing it’s job very nicely! So looking forward to this release too! And yes! Package Management speed and usability has improved many times over, so I think you will be impressed.


    • I don’t think it is that immature. I have been using the 4.0.n versions on and off, and they all work quite well. But there have been many bad stories running around the internet, slowing the adoption down. Which is a shame. It’s good to see OpenSuse supporting KDE4 strongly.

  6. gibus

    Yes but we must think of gnome fan … There is not only kde in the world ;-)

    • Grósz Dániel

      2 vs 3 month adoption after a new release (in the case of GNOME) is less difference than 5 month vs immediate adoption (KDE 4). And KDE 4 gets much more features (partly because of the feature loss and great but unfinished subsystems of KDE 4) with the 6 month new releases than GNOME these days.

  7. Bobby

    I agree with Masokol. It’s nice to have the latest and greatest but it’s not always as stable as well tested software. openSuse has become a very stable and solid distro and of course we all wish that it will continue on that path.
    don’t have a problem with the release cycle since I can easily update my KDE desktop to the latest version as soon as it’s available. Right now I am running openSuse 11.0 RC1 with KDE 4.1 Beta 1. The upgrade from 4.0x was very easy and I haven’t had a single crash until now. The only little problem that I have is migrating from KMail 3 to KMail 4. Does anyone know how to do this properly btw?
    I would be thankful for the help :)

    • Grósz Dániel

      “migrating from KMail 3 to KMail 4.”

      Try this:
      cp ~/.kde/share/config/kmailrc ~/.kde4/share/config
      cp -R ~/.kde/share/apps/kmail ~/.kde4/share/apps

      Not garantued that works properly, though.

  8. sd

    Thanks for still providing a full-featured KDE 3.5.x desktop. I’ll intend to use KDE 3.5.9 for the next two years. It is stable and mature, that’s what I need.

    • Grósz Dániel

      Why do you think KDE 4.x won’t be stable in the next 2 years? Btw KDE 3 will hardly get any more bugfixes, in contrast to KDE 4.

      • sd

        We’ll see.
        There are KDE4 Live-CDs so it is possible to check it out from time to time without compromising my productive desktop environment.
        At the moment, too much is missing, even a stable KDEPIM (see above).
        KDE 4 will become stable (as a complete, full-featured desktop environment for users) during the next two years, I am sure that this will happen.

  9. Nicol

    Hey Sorry
    May I ask if why the icons on the down left corner in KDE 4 has a green background, but not transparent?
    Pls fix it in 2 days, make it beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Erunno


      • gekko75

        Yes he is right. I guess he is talking about the controlbar in the KDE 4 screenshot. The symbols in the right corner at the bottom have green edges. Thats not very nice. Hopefully someone can fix this.

        • Grósz Dániel

          openSUSE 11.0 is GM for days, being mirrored to the servers, so it won’t change (even less for such a non-blocker bug). Hope a fix comes through update.

  10. Running 11.0 RC1 and KDE4 4.0.4 release “24.1”. What’s all the fuzz about? We can choose. Make choices, that people on Redmond-products don’t have. You want maturity, stability? You want the latest developpement? All up to your personal wishes.

    We have all been warned over and over again: KDE4 is in it’s early stages. And yet they’ve produced a working desktop, with lots of nice features. I for myself find it absurdly interesting to see something developping and maturing.

    So, there is no “better”, there is choice. Enjoy !!!!

  11. Ineteq

    “The next openSUSE release, openSUSE 11.1, should be out in December of this year and include a thoroughly tested and well-integrated KDE 4.1.x right out of the box.”

    Is it supposed to mean, that openSuse changed to a six-month release-cycle?

    • Erunno

      Well, let’s see how this plays out. The longer release cycle (>6 months) had the advantage that the openSUSE developers could work on new features for quite some time and still having an extensive beta/rc cycle afterwards. I am slightly concerned now that either the time for feature development or (worse) that the testing cycle will be shortened in order to squeeze everything into this timeframe.

    • No, openSUSE is not on a regular release schedule – it varies from 6 to 9 months.

  12. dajomu

    I just wish kickoff looked more like the “kickoff” in LinuxMint Gnome. That is so much better that the kde-kickoff.

  13. xavier

    I’m very exited waiting for this release, it will the first time I would want to use KDE4 as I’m hoping to be stable for office use, but I’m concerned about Kontact4 and its stability, I don’t have much time for testing.

    One of the most important features I’m waiting is Kontact4.


  14. kwins

    But I think that we are stong

  15. @Grósz Dániel

    dajomu is referring to the custom menu in Linux Mint. It’s very similar to kickoff, but it’s custom designed by the Mint devs and for GNOME.

    I can’t wait for the release… it’s in two days, and I’m all tensed up with excitement and anticipation. :P

  16. Kanwar

    The one thing I wish was “backported” is proxy support in konqueror. Currently its completely unusable at my office since I use dolphin for file management and firefox as web browser, of which I would like to replace the latter with Konqueror.

  17. can i direct upgrade from openSUSE 10.3 to 11 with KDE 4 automotically?

  18. I find the release schedule for openSUSE all right, varying from 6-9 months. About KDE 4.1, you will get it from repo once is available, why delay
    the release of distro cause of KDE!

    The distribution is rock solid, as usual. Congrats.

  19. Beineri

    I wrote down a list of changes to the Plasma desktop compared to stock KDE 4.0.

  20. Splash

    In the beginning I was also very skeptical about openSUSE 11.0 integration of KDE 4.0. Now I have installed the new release (RC1) and I must say: nothing to worry about! The openSUSE team has done a fantastic work with KDE 4.0. Even the PIM backports work, mostly. :-) But with an officially supported update to the 4.1 PIM apps this will be history soon. Just trust the openSUSE developers and update.

  21. Andrei

    Suse i think is the most innovative robust and complete distro out there.
    I think what opensuse needs to consider is a better software management system so we don’t install opensuse 11 anymore. We just have opensuse period. What most linux distributions lack is the sort of centralized software management system that would make the version just another variable. What i am trying to say is that a better “ports” system is pretty much needed. One would install opensuse and then just use update and switch to the next major release using update rather then having to reinstall the whole thing and not worry it’s pretty little head about broken dependencies. This way no developer and tester team would be pushed to such a mass effort that i am sure the novell and other developers are doing to keep in sync such a massive bundle of software. This way we all could just w8 for the next kde patiently and not worry while the kde/qt dudes would deliver without needing to sync with the openssl team or whatever.
    I’ve been using commercial distributions in some places i’ve worked and saw that the way they consider the updates during a 2-5 year period is just adding in bugfixes and adding xdelta or whatever patches and not adding anything new on the table. Firms put off by this. While they know they won’t squeeze any performance or features out of a ms server they also know they will have to reinstall their asses of.
    I think the linux world could benefit from the wisdom of bsd and i would not have to say that i use suse as i don’t have the time to backwards engineer some of my hw. Please some employee put this on the suggestion list. It is the next logical step to linux evolution.

    • Anon

      It’s been explained rather vastly before why this is impossible to do.

      • Wil

        Never allowing the user to see what version they are running might be all that is needed to make this “feature” work for most people.

        A very comprehensive hardware/software detection and change management application might do it (install the very latest that works on your machine then rollback what fails). And then call it “Your Mileage May Vary”!

  22. mkt

    I found the version down loadable with the last opensuse 86-64 to be a dissapointment. The widgets could not be shut off, the icons would not resize, I could not add links to software that I wanted to use to the panel etc.

  23. Ian

    I’m new to OPENSUSE. I got a lot of trouble with OPENSUSE 10.3 in repos connecting last maonth. And I hope it will do some changes and not always go wrong for OPENSUSE 11.0. REGARDS

  24. Vincent May

    I am old to Opensuse as I noticed from Ian’s Comment where he got in to trouble installing the repos. I havent had this problems as I install the base 1st, repos did give me an error on the istallation when I took a peek at it before going to work. After work the base was installed 1st then other stuff after. I used a CD while I had the DVD on order.

    Ever Since I saw Opensuse 10.2 I prefered it over other operating systems used, Im not sure if the KDE menuing system is similar to Vista as I havent used Vista or Seen it.

    I like to See 11.0, I normally upgrade on the large number(before the dot) rather than the minor number(after the dot)

  25. Niel Lambrechts

    As a laptop user I (quite recently) discovered that KDE4 used way more power than KDE3 i.e. running powertop on KDE4 showed much higher figures on an idle system than on an idle KDE3 system.

    I vaguely remember that it could have been knotify4 related, hope this has been ironed out by now.


  26. zloty

    I Have problem with HAl in suse 11 , system not loading and restarting – 11 is not good i leave this distro

  27. Jota.Ce

    openSUSE News: And finally, any last reasons why people should install openSUSE 11.0 with KDE?

    Simply cause Gnome SUXXXXXXXXXXXXXX