In keeping with its bi-annual release schedule, the KDE open source project has announced version 4.4 of the KDE Software Compilation, which sports new collaboration technologies, a netbook interface and a new Web site to celebrate the occasion.
Codenamed "Caikaku", KDE SC 4.4.0 has a significant number of changes since the 4.3 release in August 2009 with more than 7000 bugs fixed and 1433 new feature requests implemented.
While KDE originally stood for “K Desktop Environment”, the project has retired that phrase and rebranded the main desktop as KDE Software Compilation (SC) with the “compilation” being made up of workspaces (plasma desktop and plasma netbook), applications and platform (development technologies).
Plasma, the main workspace, has received a number of improvements for 4.4, including a new netbook interface, refined artwork and better workflow.
Most desktop users won’t experience Plasma Netbook, however, since it is designed solely for use with netbooks and touchscreen devices.
A new community widget allows users to send messages and find friends from within the widget, while the new tabbing feature in KWin allows windows to be grouped together in a tabbed interface, making the handling of large numbers of applications easier.
Other window handling improvements include snapping windows to a side of the screen and maximizing windows by dragging them. Themes for the windows can be developed and shared better thanks to a more configurable window decorator.
More applications also arrive with 4.4.0, including a new GetHotNewStuff interface for downloading, rating and sharing desktop widgets.
Semantic desktop features are brought in through the Nepomuk framework, and the first applications to make use of the Akonadi data storage and retrieval system will ship with 4.4. For example, the KDE addressbook application has been rewritten and has a new interface.
The KDE PIM suite adds Blogilo, a new blogging application, and desktop search is now integrated into KDE's Dolphin file manager.
For development, 4.4 introduces new collaboration and social network related technologies into the KDE libraries.
KAuth, a new authentication framework, provides secure authentication and related user interface elements to developers who want to run tasks with elevated privileges. On Linux, KAuth uses PolicyKit as a backend, providing cross-desktop integration.
KAuth is already used in a few selected dialogs in System Settings and will be further integrated into the KDE Plasma Desktop and the KDE Applications over the next months.
The KDE project, and its new Web site, is online at: www.kde.org