Techworld

KDE releases 4.7 for refined user experience

Semantic desktop, search faster and more stable

The Dolphin file manager and Gwenview image viewer in KDE 4.7

The Dolphin file manager and Gwenview image viewer in KDE 4.7

The KDE open source project has released version 4.7 of its KDE Software Compilation (SC) suite debuting support for the new Telepathy unified communications infrastructure and a new level of user experience, according to its developers.

KDE 4.7 ships with a technical preview of Telepathy integration which will become the new default IM solution for the desktop. KDE-Telepathy supports GTalk and Facebook chat, presence and themes. It is expected to be fully integrated in the next major release.

Spokesperson for the KDE project, Sebastian Kugler, told TechWorld while there are a lot of “new and exciting” features in the 4.7 releases the biggest “feature” is performance and stability.

“The Plasma Workspace and KDE applications have reached a high level of polish and completeness,” Kugler said. “Very little gets in the way, and the whole thing is just snappy and fun to use, while looking beautiful.”

The final 4.7 release comes two months after the first beta and six months after the last major release, 4.6.

Platform 4.7

New features of the KDE platform, the core of the Plasma Workspace and KDE applications, include a revised Phonon multimedia framework which now provides VLC as a backend option; better search; boot loader integration; and improved online and Web features.

KDE has the Nepomuk project for a semantic desktop, which is faster and more stable in 4.7. And the Strigi desktop search, often criticised for being too resource hungry, now has analysers that read meta-data in their own process, resolving some 35 crash-related bugs in the Dolphin file manager and Konqueror Web browser.

KDM, the display manager, has integrated GRUB2 support, allowing people to choose which operating system to reboot into from the shutdown dialog.

Network software improvements were made to KIO Proxy, which now gets system proxy information on Windows and Mac OS X and the integrated WebKit browser engine has better ad-blocking support.

Plasma Workspaces

The KDE desktop environment, which consists of the Plasma Workspaces and KWin window manager, has new interface design methods better suited to touch screen and mobile devices.

The Oxygen icons were updated and the Oxygen GTK themes make GNOME applications seem more integrated.

The KWin window manager has a new shadow system and can now run on OpenGL ES-enabled hardware, making it better suited for mobile devices. The performance has improved “noticeably” thanks to numerous optimisations.

Plasma’s Activity Manager now features more prominently on the desktop and the network manager widget now support Bluetooth tethering, 3G, VPNs, MAC spoofing and other advanced networking options.

The sound controller KMix now has better PulseAudio support.

Applications

KDE ships with a suite of applications, which have also been updated for 4.7.

The Kontact e-mail and groupware suite now uses the Akonadi storage engine, and this is the first major release to support KMail 2.

Dolphin has a cleaner appearance and the file searching interface has been improved. The file manager now has better integration with source code management systems and a new plug-in provides a rating and an annotation menu action for files and folders, leveraging Nepomuk.

Image applications Gwenview and DigiKam have received big updates, with DigiKam reaching version 2.0.

DigiKam 2 has face detection and recognition and image versioning support.

The KDE project is online at: http://www.kde.org.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

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