February 6, 2013

KDE 4.10 Officially Released And Available For Kubuntu

After months of testing and three release candidates, KDE Software Compilation 4.10 has been unleashed to the general public. In typical Kubuntu fashion, the update is already available for users of both the LTS and current releases, as well as the Raring development release. Numerous changes, improvements, and refinements abound in this, one of the last few point releases leading up to KDE SC 5.0. Changes, improvements, new features, and fixes abound in this release and include, but are not limited to:

  • Qt Quick in Plasma Workspaces -- Qt Quick is continuing to make its way into the Plasma Workspaces. Plasma Quick, KDE's extensions on top of QtQuick allow deeper integration with the system and more powerful apps and Plasma components. Plasma Containments can now be written in QtQuick. Various Plasma widgets have been rewritten in QtQuick, notably the system tray, pager, notifications, lock & logout, weather and weather station, comic strip and calculator plasmoids. Many performance, quality and usability improvements make Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces easier to use.
  • New Screen Locker -- A new screen locking mechanism based on QtQuick brings more flexibility and security to Plasma Desktop.
  • Animated Wallpapers -- Thanks to a new QtQuick-based wallpaper engine, animated wallpapers are now much easier to create.
  • Improved Zooming in Okular -- A technique called tiled rendering allows Okular to zoom in much further while reducing memory consumption. Okular Active, the touch-friendly version of the powerful document reader is now part of KDE SC.
  • Faster indexing -- Improvements in the Nepomuk semantic engine allow faster indexing of files. The new Tags kioslave allows users to browse their files by tags in any KDE-powered application.
  • Color Correction -- Gwenview, KDE's smart image viewer and Plasma's window manager now support color correction and can be adjusted to the color profile of different monitors, allowing for more natural representation of photos and graphics.
  • Notifications -- Plasma's notifications are now rendered using QtQuick, notifications themselves, especially concerning power management have been cleaned up.
  • New Print Manager -- Setup of printers and monitoring jobs was improved thanks to a new implementation of the Print Manager.
  • Kate, KDE's Advanced Text Editor received multiple improvements regarding user feedback. It is now extensible using Python plugins.
  • KTouch -- KDE's touch-typing learning utility has been rewritten and features a cleaner, more elegant user interface.
  • libkdegames improvements -- Many parts of libkdegames have been rewritten, porting instructions for 3rd party developers are available.
  • KSudoku now allows printing puzzles.
  • KJumpingCube has seen a large number of improvements making the game more enjoyable. 
KDE 4.10

For many users, the improvements in Nepomuk will be the highlight of this release. According to the official release announcement the was a lot of work done in this area that was sponsored by Blue Systems, so the work they are doing since bringing on board select Kubuntu developers is already being felt in this and other areas. Which is great to see.

"Thanks to the work sponsored by Blue Systems, the KDE cross-application semantic search and storage backend has seen over 240 bugs fixed and a significant number of other improvements. Chief among these is the new indexer, which makes indexing faster and more robust. A nice feature is that it first quickly indexes the basic information of new files (name and mimetype) so the files are available at once, and then delays full data extraction until the system is idle (or connected to AC!), so it doesn't interfere with the user's workflow. In addition, it is now far simpler to write extractors for new file formats."
"The introduction of the Tags KIO slave allows users to browse their files by tags from any KDE application."
"Nepomuk Cleaner is a simple new tool for managing semantic storage. It is useful for cleaning up legacy, invalid or duplicate data. Running the Cleaner after upgrading can provide a significant speed improvement. More information on this and other changes in the KDE search technologies can be found in Vishesh Handa's blog"
240 bugs is an impressive number, to be sure. KDE's schematic desktop simply has to shine if KDE is to continue to gain market share.

Another thorny area for many users to get some love in this release is the often-maligned KMail. Better search, indexing, account setting import, and many other bug fixes and improvements abound. 

Other new features abound in KWin regarding menus and new display and behaviour options that are configurable (see Martin Gräßlin's blog, and specifically this post for further information).

Finally, an obvious change one will immediately notice is the new, seemingly lighter and crisper Air Theme and default wallpaper.  There are many more highlights to this release than are listed here. For a detailed look at what's new, check out the official release announcement from KDE.org.

There are a lot more changes here than could realistically be listed. Needless to say, this is an important release and a vital stepping stone towards making KDE the most stable, functional, configurable, and beautiful DE out there. 

Getting IT

If you are running Kubuntu's development release, Raring Ringtail, SC 4.10 will come as part of your normal system updates. For 12.04 LTS and 12.10 users, you simply need to enable the backports PPA.