KDE2 has been one of the most eagerly-awaited software releases for Linux. The Linux desktop skirmish, usually friendly, has definitely been cranked up a notch with the release of KDE2, which includes a new file manager and Web browser and a slicker interface.
More than just an average Web browser, Konqueror also doubles as a file manager and file viewer. It allows users to view any file for which an “association” has been created, and will prompt the user for an application if no association is known. Konqueror is much faster than Mozilla, and may give frustrated Netscape users the fully-functional Web browser they’ve been waiting for.
Beyond the browser, KDE2 comes with KOffice a suite of programs which bring some powerful productivity programs to the party. KOffice consists of several applications, including KWord (a combination word processor and desktop publishing program), KSpread (a spreadsheet program), and KPresenter (a presentation program). In addition to their own file formats, KWord, KSpread and KPresenter can all open and read Microsoft Office 95/97 files and HTML files.
While the KOffice components are still in beta development, they’re full-featured and seem to be ready for production use. The programs may not have all the features of their MS Office counterparts, they are ready to tackle most tasks and should provide plenty of horsepower for everyday use. MS Office users will find that KDE2 has a similar look and feel, and the integration between KOffice programs and other KDE2 apps is as good or better than MS Office.
KDE2 also features a new and improved Konsole, the KDE X terminal. Konsole now allows the user to open multiple consoles in the same window. You can switch between these consoles by using tabs at the bottom of the Konsole window. Linux power users that have been fighting the clutter of numerous xterm windows will find the new Konsole to be extremely helpful.
There are still a few bugs present in KDE2, unfortunately. The system locked up completely at least once during testing, requiring us to kill X completely in order to recover. Konqueror is the likely culprit, as it was the only application open at the time. KMail also locked up several times, but didn’t take any other applications with it.
A more minor, but still annoying bug involved logging out of KDE2. We had to go through the log out procedure at least twice on our test machine. This was really more inconvenient than actually troubling.
So while there are still a few glitches, they should be fixed in short time as large numbers of users start to adopt KDE2. The bottom line is that KDE2 is definitely worth taking a look at, especially if you are already a KDE user. But even if you’re not, you should really check it out.