Well to hell with that

>> Friday, July 04, 2008

I tried, really. I tried and tried and tried. And the fucking thing gave me a headache. It's terrible. It's counterintuitive, it's clumsy, it's inflexible, it works like Windows in the worst possible ways.

"It" being KDE 4. Oh, for fuck's sake. I understand that KDE 4 is supposed to be faster and more efficient and prettier and smarter and girls want to be with it and the guys want to be it. But it's making my head hurt. The replacement for the Kicker--the KDE equivalent of the Windows Button down on the lower left hand corner of your Windows taskbar--is horizontally hierarchical, meaning that finding anything might take you three or four mouse clicks to navigate through menus that gratuitously slide off screen when you move to the next (a bit of eye candy that makes it difficult to see where you are and requires extra mouse clicks to recall the previous menu if you click on the wrong submenu). Dolphin, the new file manager, apparently doesn't let me open anything in my usr folder as sudo*, meaning that I'm having a bitch of a time trying to restore the folders I bothered to back up before installing the new system (I could figure out how to do it from the command line, but the whole point of a GUI is that I ought to be able to do it as a drag and drop); I understand why this is off by default, I don't understand why there isn't a context menu option, nor a taskbar menu option, nor an explanation in the Dolphin help menu, nor any meaningful preferences menu to address the issue.

The desktop, as near as I can figure out, isn't really a place: deleting icons--which are actually little widgets on the KDE 4 desktop for some stupid reason that probably has to do with aesthetics ("Ooh--I can rotate an icon or leave it turned sideways, how cool and utterly fucking useless is that?")--doesn't delete the actual thing the icon represents, meaning that KDE 4's front end basically works like the Program Manager from Windows 3.x maximized, only infinitely prettier. Again, I can understand why you might want it to work that way if you're assuming users are retards, but that's not what ever drew anyone to Linux, is it now?

The new Plasma panel--the replacement for KDE 3.x's taskbar panel--is nearly uncustomizable as near as I can tell. I can add things to it, but if they aren't where I want them, I can't find any way to move them around on the panel. Right clicking either opens up something I don't want opened or it brings up a limited menu with one or two options that aren't what I was looking for. The issues with Plasma are probably the easiest to fix: KDE 4 is brand new and the panel applications are widgets, so I expect there will be quite a few more options this time next year. But right now I can't do shit with the panel. When I finally added a wastebasket to it by accident, I was pleased with myself until I discovered I couldn't actually empty it.

I know I said I'll have to get used to it, and I will: next year sometime, or later. I'm downloading the non-KDE 4 version of Kubuntu 8.04, and I'll be installing it on my machine shortly. KDE 3.5 may be old and breaking and on the verge of obsolescence, but it's a working shell and not a fucking turd that's been laminated and polished to a high shine. Indeed, if KDE 4 doesn't work any better next year, I may have to just reconcile myself to learning to love the Gnome. This is just awful, just fucking awful.

*That came out as utter gibberish, didn't it. Just noticed that when I looked back at it.

Here's the deal: there are a lot of things that you can do on a computer that will stop it from working. Files you can delete that will break something, commands you can give that will crud something up. If you want to keep idiots from doing this by mistake, there are at least two ways you can keep this from happening. The dumb way--which, by a funny coincidence, is how Microsoft did it up until Vista--is you can just hide certain files and commands away and try to pretend they're not there.

A smarter way to do it--because sometimes people will need to work with those files and instructions, but (generally) only sometimes--is to put in some kind of break. Microsoft Windows Vista apparently goes overboard in this regard, requiring you to type in a password anytime you want to do anything. But Linux (and, as I understand it, Apple) break activities down into the ordinary things you might want to do (e.g. installing an ordinary program) and extraordinary things you might want to do (e.g. access the folder where the operating system lives and works).

Different versions of Linux have their own variations, but the common solution is to allow the user to do those extraordinary things if he prefaces the command with "sudo"--"super user do" (thanks, Wikipedia) or logs in or requests access as a "root" user; the machine then asks for a password, and only then will it carry out the instruction.

Did that help?


Random Michelle K Friday, July 4, 2008 at 11:44:00 PM EDT  

If you have an old computer that is broken beyond repair, I recommend climbing up on your roof, and throwing the POS as far as you can, and then watching as it crashes to the ground.

Depending upon what you dropped, it might shatter into a thousand pieces, or just get really dented.

I'm pretty sure you can recycle the pieces in Office Despot's computer recycling program.

Eric Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 9:21:00 AM EDT  

Fortunately, nothing's broken beyond repair. I just need to roll back the user interface I'm using for Linux.

But if the developers of KDE 4 had been here last night, your suggestion would have been soooooo tempting, you would not believe....

Random Michelle K Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 9:38:00 AM EDT  

Well, I *did* mean a computer you were not currently working on. :)

Or are you trying to say you're a geek with only one computer in our house?!

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