Recently I’ve been testing the beta version of the coming 9.04 release of Kubuntu, to see how KDE is progressing. I agree with the position taken in this article, that KDE (KDE 4) has the evolutionary advantage over it’s colleague (or competitor depending on the point of view) GNOME. KDE has a vision, and GNOME isn’t making much progress at the moment. The innovations in KDE 4 are considerable, and I intend to switch in the near future. However, I want to wait a little bit longer before switching because some problems are holding me back.
Possibly the most serious problem in KDE 4 is the Konqueror web browser. Konqueror uses the KHTML engine, which unfortunately gives compatibility problems with certain websites. As a consequence, many KDE users use the Mozilla Firefox web browser, which is a necessary evil because it doesn’t integrate as well in KDE 4 as Konqueror. Many think that a web browser using the WebKit engine should be created for KDE to give a better web browsing experience. I agree with this, and because efforts seem underway to solve this in the near future, I will wait with switching until this problem is solved.
Currently OpenOffice, just like Firefox, doesn’t integrate well in KDE 4 while it does better in GNOME. OpenOffice is the single office suite in the free software world which is usable, while I think it’s quality disappoints there is no alternative. I’m looking forward to KDE’s competitor for OpenOffice, KOffice, but unfortunately there is no stable KOffice 2.0 release yet. At this moment sticking with OpenOffice in combination with GNOME seems a better option.
Banshee is a music player which I’m using in combination with GNOME, and which I appreciate highly. I especially like it’s no nonsense user interface, which is efficient and simple. If I’d use KDE I’d want to use a music player which would integrate better in KDE. Amarok is the most popular and the subject of much praise, but the interface is a world of difference with Banshee. Amarok is completely bloated and the user interface looks like a mess, far from the clean looks of Banshee. JuK would looks like a better candidate to replace Banshee as a simple music player, but I fear it can’t compete with Banshee either. I haven’t given either Amarok or JuK a serious try yet, so I can’t make a definite judgement.
I’m not up to date with the state of Kopete, but as far as I know development is still being done on overhauling Kopete to use the Telepathy framework. In this respect it seems to lag behind GNOME’s instant messenger, Empathy.
A less important issue is that Konversation, KDE’s IRC client, has not been ported to KDE 4 yet. Apparently Kubuntu will use Quassel as it’s IRC client to bridge the gap. Quassel seems inferior to Konversation, certainly when it comes to integrating in KDE. I don’t use IRC much, but it’s another reason to hold off switching.