Opinion

KDE Plasma 5 Disappoints in Fedora 22

KDE Opinion Reviews

Although Fedora is still my distro of choice, KDE Plasma 5 (KP5) is a real disappointment and makes Fedora 22 unusable for me. It is reminiscent of the switch from KDE 3.5 to KDE 4, where many things did not work and others were simply missing.

Understand that I am a KDE fanboy; it is my favorite desktop. But KP5 is unusable for me. Even after spending days trying to make it work to meet my needs I was unable to feel even marginally comfortable with it.

Many of the widgets that were present in KDE Plasma 4 are now missing, including a few that I really find useful such as the Konqueror profiles which enable me to use four default profiles for Konqueror and to create my own. In fact, Konqueror seems to ignore profiles now, even when I try to launch them from the command line. Perhaps the profile location has moved and the KDE 4 location no longer works; but that begs the question of why make that change. Konqueror is my favorite file manager and being unable to use my own profiles with it is nearly a deal breaker all by itself.

The multimedia configuration page in System Settings was unable to detect any of the multiple soundcards I have installed in my workstation. This failure, along with the inability to deal with my preconfigured Konqueror profiles, makes it impossible for me to work effectively in KP5.

The KP5 desktop itself is usable but flat, boring and uninspiring. Perhaps simplicity and clean looks is the watchword for this release but I don’t like it.

The real problem with this are the issues I had when trying to make the desktop look good for me. There are only two options for the default desktop look and no way to download more. There are also few icon options and again, no available downloads. KP5 does not recognize my existing wallpapers and was forcing me to import each individually.  Making changes to the desktop such as pointer schemes and various modifications to application appearance cause the desktop to crash repeatedly.

Underneath there are no major changes to Fedora 22 itself. The major changes like systemd, the new anaconda installer, and firewalld are well past. But the new Anaconda installer still sucks!

I did try to use various forms of GNOME, including Cinnamon and MATE, but I find those desktops too restrictive for me. So I went back to Fedora 21 with KDE Plasma 4 and I am now happy again. I will wait until KP5 is fixed before I upgrade to a newer version of Fedora – just as I did when KP4 made its appearance.

Ironically, this decision to revert to Fedora 21 is a reflection of my own somewhat inflexible approach to my desire for a flexible desktop experience. I like KDE Plasma 4 and the extreme flexibility it gives me. I find myself hampered and seriously annoyed by the lack of the features and flexibility in KP5 that I have grown used to in KP4 and I am unwilling to deal with those shortcomings for any length of time.

My main question is why would one release a desktop so seriously full of holes and annoyances?

It helps to know how things work

Linux Opinion Technical Training

It really helps to know how things work when it becomes necessary to fix them.

This was true when I was fixing audio equipment in the early ’70s, and supporting computers and software for IBM, MCI, Interpath, and Cisco over the years, and teaching Linux for Red Hat and my own company, Millennium Technology Consulting LLC. The intimate knowledge of how Linux works has also been invaluable since I started working with it in about 1996.

Unless you know how things really work, there is a tendency to use a shotgun approach to problem solving. That wastes time and, if replacing parts is involved or purchasing new software, can be quite expensive.

After all, would you be willing to pay for the auto mechanic to replace several perfectly good parts while trying to find the one part actually causing the problem – and to pay him for time and materials as well? Of course not. Although that used to be the case more often than it should have been.

I submit for your approval a problem I just fixed this morning – with this web site.

It was not a problem that affected the external operation of the DataBook web site, but I could no longer use any editor from within WordPress to edit pages and posts such as this one.

Because I know several important things about WordPress I was able to think about the problem and correct it on the first try. I know the following about WordPress:

  • The data for WordPress web sites is stored separately in a MySQL database. Separation of data and code is always a good thing to do.
  • There is one and only one, small site configuration file for each WordPress web site, wp-config.php.
  • All WordPress plugins, themes, and uploaded graphics also have their own directories.
  • The Apache web configuration is separate from the WordPress site configuration.

So it was a simple matter to simply delete the entire directory in which the WordPress instance was installed for that web site. Everything.

I then copied the entire directory structure from a known working web site to replace the one I deleted. I then copied the original wp-config.php to the appropriate location in the newly copied WordPress directory structure and my web site was up and running again. It was then trivial to copy from backups the rest of the plugins and graphics to complete the process. All in all it took less than 5 minutes.

Not having the understanding I do of how WordPress, MySQL and Apache work together to produce a web site, I would have been tempted to simply delete everything in the WordPress directory (/var/www) for that web site and start over by reinstalling WordPress and configuring it from scratch. As easy as that is for WordPress, it would still have taken much longer than it did for me to actually fix the problem.

If I had understood more about the PHP coding of WordPress itself, I probably could have simply repaired the offending file that was likely corrupted for some reason. But that would probably taken much longer in any event.

If you are interested in learning how Linux works so that you can identify, understand and fix problems in the most effective ways, try the Linux classes I offer at Millennium Technology Consulting LLC.

SOPA Protest

Information News Opinion

This website will participate tomorrow, January 18, 2012, in protest of the SOPA law. That law would restrict the Internet freedoms of everyone for the somewhat questionable  financial benefit of a few media companies. In order to restrict alleged piracy, they would restrict the entire Internet. Web sites could be closed without any warning or even proof that they were in violation of any law—except the laws of greed.

Read about SOPA and the protest.

This bill will break the Internet as we know it.