Monday, February 16, 2009

Impressed by KDE 4.2

I'm running Linux on my desktop at work after a year of OS X, and Gnome as shipped by Ubuntu 8.10 has just been a world of hurt. The panel looks and works like ass when moved to the left side of the screen (the only sane place to put it in today's world of widescreen monitors), network-manager just decided to quit working one day (I got by with wicd after that), alt-tab behavior sucks both ways you can configure it, etc.

I installed KDE 4.2 over the weekend to see if I was missing anything there.


It's like daylight after being in a cave for two months. I didn't realize how hard it has been to use a butt-ugly environment until I wasn't anymore. (Yes, I tried all the gnome themes I could find. Even Nimbus which took a bit of work. What's that recently-famous phrase? "Lipstick on a pig?")

What is better in KDE? In a word, everything. And put me in the camp that really likes having the desktop turned into a usable area for the first time. Like apple's dashboard, except it doesn't suck. I always hated dashboard.

Things that could be improved:

  • Never in a thousand years would I have thought to look under "Regional & Language" for the preference to turn caps lock into control. I had to google this.
  • I'm still not sure how to set F9 to Present Windows. Or how to bind a keystroke to the K menu as a poor man's quicksilver.
  • More generally, a "Welcome to kde. Let me teach you how to be a power user" tutorial would be nice. I have the feeling there is lots of awesome under the hood if I knew where it was. I never got that feeling from gnome. ("Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone.")
  • Firefox UI widgets are imperfectly themed from XUL to GTK to KDE. But it is useable. (And having my second monitor redraw correctly instead of leaving artifacts when windows are moved makes up for that.) Is this KDE's fault? Firefox's? I don't know.
  • Konqueror is still using KHTML instead of webkit which means it is mostly unusable in the world of "web 2.0." Yes, you can install webkitkde but that is Very Alpha. ("Open in new window" doesn't work, for instance. "Open in new tab" is gone entirely.)
  • I couldn't find an option to just use icons in the task manager widget.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

SQLAlchemy at PyCon 2009

I will be giving an Introduction to SQLAlchemy tutorial and Mike Bayer and Jason Kirtland will be teaching Advanced SQLAlchemy, both on Thursday. I'll be covering similar material as last year, updated for 0.5. I'm also trying to see if I can get the emails of the registrants so far to see what else they would like covered. My tutorial style is exercise-heavy, so if you've read the docs or my slides but still find it hard to write SQLA code, coming to the tutorial is a great way to fix that. (Note: the blog link to the 2008 slides is broken since we moved If you want them, drop me a note.)