KDE 4.1 release ups free desktop ante

New applications enter the mainstream desktop environment

After six months of development since the release of the much publicized 4.0, the KDE project has unveiled version 4.1 which includes many new bug fixes and feature enhancements.

KDE 4.1 is the first KDE4 release to contain the KDE-PIM personal information management suite with e-mail client KMail, the KOrganizer planner, RSS reader Akregator, and other components integrated into the Kontact application.

Plasma, the new desktop shell introduced in KDE 4.0, has matured to the point where it can replace the KDE 3 shell for most users, according to the developers.

From KDE 4.0 to KDE 4.1 there have been 20,803 commits to the project along with 15432 translation check-ins. Some 35,000 commits have been done in work branches, some of them being merged into KDE 4.1.

In addition to the high number of commits, KDE's Dirk Muller said KDE's sysadmin team has created 166 new accounts for developers on KDE's Subversion server.

Its developers say KDE 4.1 is a "huge step forward" in the KDE4 series and should set the pace for future development. KDE 4.2 is due in January 2009.

In addition to KDE-PIM, KDE 4.1 has a new multimedia player, Dragon Player, Okteta for hex editing, Step for physics education, KSystemLog for system monitoring, Lokalize for translation, KSCD for playing CDs, and a swag of new games.

One of the most user-visible applications for KDE 4.1 is the dedicated file manager Dolphin which now supports "treeview" in the main view and tabs.

Konqueror, KDE's Web browser, now has support for reopening previously closed windows and tabs and it also scrolls smoothly through Web pages.

Gwenview, KDE's image viewer, has a new full-screen view, a thumbnail bar for easy access to other photos, a smart undo system, and support for rating images.

KRDC, KDE's remote desktop client, now detects remote desktops on the local network automatically using the ZeroConf protocol.

KWin's compositing window manager features are more stable and have new effects like the "coverswitch" window switcher and "wobbly windows".

KDE desktop shell Plasma features an extended panel configuration which makes it easy to customize the panel with visual feedback. Also, the new folderview applet allows people to view any directory on their system to provide more flexible access to files being worked on.

In addition to the PIM applications being introduced in 4.1, the Akonadi PIM storage framework will provide an efficient way of storing and retrieving e-mail and contact data across applications, according to its developers.

Developers can now create KDE applications with Python and Ruby and the new Phonon integration for GStreamer, QuickTime and DirectShow9, improves KDE's multimedia support on Windows and Mac OS.

The KDE community dedicates this release to Uwe Thiem, a long-time contributor to KDE who passed away recently after a sudden kidney failure. The death of Uwe was unexpected and was a shock to his fellow contributors.

The KDE project is online at www.kde.org.

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