KDE Plasma — 2

The Dolphin file manager is above average but seems to be missing a few features from the KDE 3 Konqueror days. Initially the bread crumb widget for the Location bar file path seemed too similar to GTK and disappointing, but pressing F6 or using the View menu toggles to an editable Location bar. The Location bar can be made permanently editable in the configuration. There is no option to persistently show the tab bar. There is no default “new tab” button but one can be added with the configuration dialog as well as using the keyboard shortcut to open a new tab. Mouse wheel cycling in the tab bar cannot be disabled.

Creating a new tab always opens in the foreground, but opening a directory in a new tab from the context menu always opens the tab in the background. (This is the same either-or thinking that plagues Firefox — why not context menu options to do both?)

The Dolphin interface can be customized, including toolbars and the context menu. Somebody has half a clue about hamburger menu buttons — when the menu bar is enabled the hamburger button disappears.

Sorting files in the file pane is a sane: upper case directories first, then lower case directories, hidden directories, and hidden files last. All file managers should sort this way. A bonus is the hidden directories and files are displayed in a lighter shade to distinguish them as “hidden” files.

Dolphin config files are scattered over several places:


Side panel “Places” bookmarks are stored in the global file $HOME/.local/share/user-places.xbel. This is a global file, but unknown is whether all KDE tools use this file. Some KDE software supporting bookmarks do not use this file but use the XBEL format in their own xml file. Many to most GTK tools do not use these bookmark files.

Unknown is what software uses the $HOME/.local/share/recently-used.xbel file.

The file picker dialog in KDE 3 and TDE was leaps and bounds better than the GTK file picker. The Plasma version remains above average and more friendly than GTK. Oddly the KDE file picker is not easily customized.

Like LXQt, KDE supports the XDG xdg-desktop-portal front end service. Using the KDE file picker in supported GTK3 software is nice.

A handy KDE usability feature always has been the ability to view man pages as HTML. As was true in the days of yore, Konqueror and the KDE Help Center are the tools used to view man pages in HTML.

In the Konqueror Location bar type the man: prefix followed by the name of the command. For example, man:at.

Dolphin does not support directly viewing man pages. Instead when the requested man page is entered in the Location bar, the KDE Help Center is launched. Likewise when using KRunner (with the Locations plugin) to view man pages.

There are three panel menus included in a default KDE install. The simpler menu is called the Application Menu. This menu includes a Favorites sidebar. The sidebar contains a separator. The lower section of the sidebar contains power and session icons. Another menu option is what once was called the Kickoff menu but now is called the Application Launcher. The third option is called the Application Dashboard, which fills the entire desktop much like a smart phone or tablet.

The panel menus do not have a Run option to launch KRunner. The only way to launch software without the menu is with the traditional Alt+F2 keyboard shortcut to launch KRunner. The menus support a search text box that probably suffices for the lack of a Run option.

Adding and removing tools to the Application Menu Favorites sidebar requires using a right-click to select a menu item and choosing the respective option from the popup context menu.

The Application Menu contains a Power/Session submenu that seems hard-coded into the menu. There does not seem to be a way to remove that submenu. In the Application Menu sidebar are two power related icons to reboot or shutdown. Those icons can be removed from the sidebar using the same method for adding and removing any sidebar iocn.

The Falkon web browser shows promise. Falkon seems capable and with some nominal upstream tweaking could become an excellent browser. For example, missing is fine control with the bane of the web. Currently JavaScript control is little more than a single on-off switch with no toolbar button. Both block and allow lists are supported with cookies. The same is needed with JavaScript. Something like uBlock Origin or NoScript would be welcomed. Overall Falkon seems well designed to be a web browser and not a “kitchen sink” tool. Hopefully development continues.

Konqueror seems to be a fair web browser now supporting QtWebEngine. Configuring Konqueror as a web browser is much the same as in KDE 3 and TDE.

KDE could fill many holes to break away from GTK apps:

  • GUI file manager --> Dolphin
  • Geany and plugins --> Kate/KWrite
  • Atril Document Viewer --> Okular
  • Galculator --> KCalc/KRunner
  • Eye of MATE Image Viewer --> Gwenview
  • Engrampa archiver --> Ark
  • Remmina --> Krdc
  • Cliboard manager --> Klipper
  • Brasero --> K3B
  • Xfce Timer Applet --> Panel widget, KTimer, KTeatime
  • Xfce Sound Mixer --> KMix

KDE has come far from the disappointing KDE 4 days. Initial testing is encouraging. Adopting KDE as the base desktop might help with updating Slackware 14.2 to 15.0 and avoid most of the discontent with GTK.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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