Enjoy A Clean, Improved Desktop With KDE 4.7 [Linux]

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kde desktopOne of Linux‘s most popular desktop environments, KDE, released their latest series (version 4.7) at the end of July. This version improves on work done in previous releases by adding new features while improving performance and stability.

However, this new version does not provide a drastic change such as GNOME 3, as most changes are under the hood and are not visually reflected. Needless to say, you will still see an improvement while working, but they do not fall under the aesthetics category.

Major Improvements To KWin

kde desktop

KWin, the compositing window manager for KDE, has had quite a lot of work put into it in the last six months. All of this work is supposed to help make the Plasma Workspaces (the overall desktop of KDE) more portable so that it can be used on mobile platforms. This has been achieved by making use of new Qt technologies (Qt being the application framework) and adding support for OpenGL ES 2.0.

However, regular desktop users can benefit from all of this work done to KWin, as I can say that KWin’s performance has improved quite a bit. Virtually all desktop effects are now more responsive and execute more smoothly. I tend to turn on more desktop effects than I should, so this is a welcome improvement. You can also see that the options window for Desktop Effects has received a very slight makeover as well.

Updates To The Application Suite

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As with every KDE release, the KDE suite of applications has received a nice update as well. Many of the updates to these programs increase stability and performance, along with varying levels of feature changes, depending on the application. Although KDE 4.7 is, from what I’ve heard, supposed to go hand in hand with Qt 4.8, it has been working very well on my system which currently still sports Qt 4.7.

Emerging New IM Platform

KDE 4.7 also introduces a new instant messaging program, currently titled under the project name “KDE-Telepathy“. The end result of this project, once it matures, is designed to replace the current instant messaging client, Kopete. The new instant messenger is supposed to provide more features, flexibility, and overall stability and performance.

Already included is some initial desktop integration in the form of a panel widget. KDE-Telepathy isn’t installed by default, however, and may or may not even be included in your distribution’s repositories (well, at least those that include KDE 4.7). Either once distributions release a new version that includes KDE 4.7, or once the KDE-Telepathy project matures enough, will it be included in the repositories. Such a decision is placed upon each distribution for them to choose.

KMail, KOrganizer & Akonadi Improvements

kde desktop

Although this ultimately falls under all the other minor features that are being included, I simply had to include my personal favorite features of this new release. KDE 4.7 includes a completely reworked (but it keeps the same look) version of KMail, which works a lot better with the Akonadi resource framework. In addition, Akonadi now supports CalDav, so all of you who wanted to have more than one Google calendar included in your KOrganizer now can.

As Google Calendar supports CalDav, people can finally add all the calendars they wish to KOrganizer. One of the few things I had against KDE was the fact that I simply couldn’t use my Google calendars as I wanted to, but this issue has finally been resolved.


KDE 4.7 is overall a great release that you should update to whenever your distribution supports it. As it currently stands, Kubuntu has a PPA that ships KDE 4.7, openSUSE has numerous KDE repositories that people can choose from (“Upstream” will include KDE 4.7), and Fedora currently offers KDE 4.7 through the unstable branch of the kde-redhat repository for Fedora 15. As it appears, Kubuntu 11.10, openSUSE 12.1, and Fedora 16 should all ship with KDE 4.7 when they each release.

What do you think of KDE’s latest release? What do you like or dislike about it? Let us know in the comments!

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