KDE 4.4 Beta 2 Packaging

December 30, 2009

It’s been a pretty fun week building KDE 4.4 Beta 2 for Unity Linux. Of course this is just not for Unity Linux as when I’m done branding and testing on Unity the packages will be rebranded for Synergy Linux and that will be when the fun begins. First, I would like to get a stable desktop environment as kinda a foundation for testing and customizing KDE’s 4.4 netbook interface. So far the toughest package has been kdebindings. Others have reported it’s broken and Mandriva up until a few days ago only had 4.3.2 on their repos, which was no help to me as I started at least a week ago on packaging. I ended up having to look at fedora cvs and suse to see what was compiling and what wasn’t and even then I was only able to get PyKde (or python-kde) to compile. It seems with Mandriva’s new src rpm I’ll be able to get smoke, php, ruby, python and the mono stuff to compile, they’ve included a patch that bumps bindings to the next svn revision which seems to fix a lot of the errors. All of this also leads me to a question about Suse, do they have a cvs or svn package repository? I’m getting tired of using cpio to check out the spec and see patches or changes. At least Mandriva has Sophie, which is something. It seems though there’s no equivalent to a simple svn or CVS repository for packages at least in my opinion. Unity Linux has one and Synergy Linux will shortly. With python working in the current kdebindings package this means Plasmacon is now working,Plasmacon, a Konsole Plasmoid which is good for me and that also means a vast majority of other Python based Plasma apps will work too, which is good for you 🙂 . I thought this may also fix the system-config-printer-kde module, but it seems that still needs more work as it’s broken. Updating kdebindings with the patch from Mandriva it seems ruby, php, smoke and python are the only bindings that will compile, for some reason java still has issues.  There’s a few key patches I have added from other distributions that are in Synergy’s current repository that’s setup for testing. Some of these patches increase the functionality of KDE quite a bit while others are just nice to have. I will start out with some of the patches in my opinion are nice to have but not mandatory.

Show the pixel size when changing the height of the panel

If you look next to the word Height you will see 39. Back in the KDE 3 days I used to have my panel preferences down to what I thought was the perfect size for the panel. At the time that was 35. Ever time I would do a new install one of the first things I did was change the panel size to 35. Now once again with a patch obtained from Suse I am able to know the pixel size I’m at when adjusting the panel. Maybe not a big deal to you, but for some strange reason this features helps me feel more at home. Yes this is just one of those patches that no one really cares about, but when it’s gone someone notices and it’s annoying not having it there.

Konsole in the right click desktop menu

For a user this might be a little scary. Never in Windows would you see a link to launch dos in one of normal user menus, yet this patch from fedora places a link to launch konsole in the right click desktop menu. For some people this might be an annoying option, but for a package/developer it’s been a feature I have used quite a few times, my only qualm with it is, sometimes I have to many windows open and it takes me work to minimize them then too just launch it from krunner or kickoff.

Unity Branding in Kickoff

This is most defiantly not a huge deal to end users, but it’s a huge deal to me. The Unity Linux KDE 4.4 packages have adopted a new way of handling branding and configuration for KDE 4.4 packages. The little (messed up for now) Unity Linux logo in kickoff is just a versy small tip of the iceberg. A branch (a Unity based distribution) can now edit one package throw in their own graphics, edit the configuration files in the package to point to their newly added graphics and then rebuild and update the rpm with out having to rebuild, or patch the core kde packages (kdebase, kdelibs). This allows branches to use the Unity Linux based KDE 4.4 rpms and just edit the branding package if they so wish. Right now multiple aspects of KDE are covered. KSplash comes with a simple example theme called Unity-Simple, KDM comes with configuration files and a example kdm theme called, again, Unity-Simple. Eventually almost anything that can be labeled by a Unity based branch will be in the kde branding package.

Better Wacom Tablet Support

A patch was added to support Wacom tablets better. This patch handles the cursor direction properly when the screen is rotated. A vast majority of people may not use this patch but it’s one of those patches for those of us that do have wacom based tablets (Toshiba Protege M200 for example) it’s much appreciated.

Availability to Suspend or Sleep in KDM

If you have a machine that not just you use, this patch allows you to suspend or sleep a laptop with out having to login to a users account. In order to suspend the root password is needed however.

Root Password Prompt in SystemSettings

Currently if a user wants to change settings that need root privileges in a vanilla (straight from KDE) install they will need to launch SystemSettings while logged in as root. That can be really annoying especially if it’s just a simple task like changing a kdm theme. A patch has been applied now that will prompt the user for the root password and launch the SystemSettings module with root privileges allowing users to change settings and not have to log out.

Packages and not just Patches

Not to take away from the from with patches or anything but currently there’s some packages in the Synergy-Linux repository that can also be just as fun as patches.

Two packages that have to do with Firefox integration in KDE 4 are firefox-ext-plasmanotify and firefox-theme-kde4ff. firefox-ext-plasmanotify uses the plasma notification system to notify uses when a file has downloaded of what something in Firefox needs your attention. firefox-theme-kde4ff is a theme that allows firefox to look a little nicer in KDE 4 environments. For now there are just these two packages but in the future look for a firefox extension that allows integration with kwallet to manage you firefox passwords.

Bangarang is another neat package that is in the repository. Bangarang is a KDE 4 based media player that uses nepomuk and various other pillars of KDE 4 to play and organize media files. Currently it’s in beta status.

There are various other packages and changes that I didn’t cover, that I will just leave as a surprise. If I told you about all the fun stuff no one would try it out for me and I wouldn’t have any testers. So give Unity Beta 1 a try, add the synergy-linux repository to smart and install away. Give me your feed back please!

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3 Responses to “KDE 4.4 Beta 2 Packaging”

  1. Richard Says:

    Just a note to let you know that I’m trying it. It’s still a bit rough round the edges but looks very promising.

    I just found some Suse branding that you’ve missed. The cube caps 🙂

  2. Richard Says:

    Actually, to be fair, the rough edges were probably due to me upgrading on my existing system. On a fresh install on my Eeep without installing the older version first and with a fresh user account, it all runs fairly smoothly. BUT on the upgrade (Which I have now reinstalled the original on.) it didn’t go so smoothly. The biggest annoyance was that the netbook desktop had to be killed three times on every login before it would go away – and I had never selected it in the first place. I also had problems with the panel becoming unusable and the system tray losing my kmail and ktorrent icons. I feel if I upgrade again, I will have to start afresh with a new user and take ages migrating all my stuff across, I haven’t had to do that since I upgraded from KDE3.5.


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