Zwabel’s Weblog

March 30, 2009

Pushing Immature Technology onto the User

Filed under: KDE — zwabel @ 10:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

KDE4′s new Desktop shell called Plasma is meant to do everything better then KDE3′s kickoff+kdesktop did. Innovations over innovations, exciting stuff is going on there. The development goes on in a high pace, and with every release there is new features all over the place. It would be a really great project, if there wasn’t one tiny little problem: It is the core desktop shell of one of the 2 major linux distributions, still they refuse to care about a large part of their current/potential users. Yes, I’m talking about the poor souls who don’t have good enough hardware for full desktop composition, don’t have good enough graphics drivers for stable desktop composition, or the rebels like me, who simply cannot stand the slight lag always feelable on a composited desktop.

I don’t even want to open a discussion on graphics drivers here. Fact is, I have very good graphics hardware, but when using composition, you _always_ pay a price for it, especially when you have a 3280×1200 Desktop setup, and when your system is under heavy load. As desktop composition becomes more popular, the drivers are maturing, but still the general architecture is far from perfect.

Apart from that, a 2000 MHZ computer with 512 MB of ram and without a 3D accelerator card should be able to run any good desktop environment without problems, and it should even be able to look good. There is no technical reason speaking against it. I don’t consider Windows Vista a good desktop environment in this regard btw.

I also don’t want to start a discussion on desktop composition in general. I want to start a discussion on the way those people are treated, who do not want to jump on using the newest immature technology, or simply aren’t able to.

Now along came Plasma. It has tons of beautiful themes available that are downloadable through GetHotNewStuff. The only problem: Most of those themes look like total crap when composition is disabled, because plasma does not allow the panel to blend over the underlying desktop without desktop composition. 100% exact transparency by definition can not be achieved without composition, but all desktop environments except KDE4 support something called “fake transparency”, where the panel uses a blended version of the underlying wallpaper as background, which leads to a nearly correct result, with the only downside that windows covered by the panel are not visible through it. But seriously, who puts windows under his panel, and wants to see them?

However, and I knew this before, the plasma developer consider something like that an evil ugly hack, and don’t want to put something like it into plasma.

Since I’m an aesthetically sensitive person, I got tired of the grey brick at the bottom of my right screen, and put a few evenings into finding out how hacky it would really be to make it look nice. It couldn’t be that hard, after all the plasmoids on the desktops themselves also use the same software aka. fake transparency. And behold: Due to the fact that the desktop and panel live in the same application, and because of the logical API, in the end it turned out quite easy to do, and quite un-hacky. It works unbelievably well: Wallpaper blending animations, moving plasmoids under the panel, or putting animated plasmoids under it works exactly as expected. Here you can see the result. About 80 added lines of code, no evil stuff, no API added, and this result:

Before (Actually this is one of very few themes that don’t look like total crap without composition):

After (To my eyes, about 100 times more beautiful than before):

Still, not the slightest interest in adding this. To them it might be a hack, but to me, it is the only way of achieving a nicely looking desktop without composition. 80 Lines of code, for at least 36% of all linux users(According to this survey, in my experience it would be even more).

Instead, I get told that I should use composition(btw. games run a lot slower with nvidia just from enabling it in the xorg.conf), I get told that drivers are getting better, and I get told that hardware is getting more powerful. And this is where I see a basic problem with plasma: They seem to be developing for the future, and only give a small part of their attention to the present.
I don’t care whether future drivers will be better, I don’t care whether future system tray specifications will be better, when at the same time my desktop does not look nice, my systemtray doesn’t work properly, and my krunner doesn’t run the commands I type. KDE4 is a technology of _today_, and should work _today_, for everyone.

This goes for all of KDE4: I sincerely hope that in future, we can find a better balance between innovative development, and present usability.


  1. Are you using NVidia? I have no problems or slowdowns with compositing turned on here, on my intel card.

    Shouldn’t NVidia be fixing their drivers, instead of plasma adding useless hacks? This is what you get for buying hardware with only closed source drivers.

    Comment by sandsmark — March 30, 2009 @ 11:05 pm

  2. @sandsmark: This is not up for discussion, just look at the 36%, and stop telling people to buy other hardware please, because we’re talking about software

    Comment by zwabel — March 30, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

  3. What is stopping you from using xrender compositing? I thought the whole reason it was there was for “legacy” reasons, and for people who didn’t need flashy effects?

    Comment by _txf_ — March 30, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

  4. @sandsmark: Ok, great! Please provide a list of the manufacturers and corresponding model numbers of PCI graphics adapters with fully functional entirely open source drivers, that provide 3D and compositing support.

    Comment by Thomas Hobson — March 30, 2009 @ 11:16 pm

  5. @swabel: I tend to take internet-polls with a rather huge grain of salt (also add that that poll is about how many are currently using a compositing window manager, you shouldn’t read more into it).

    Anyways, I would take Aaron’s word for it if he says that faking compositing in software is bad, considering he maintained kicker (with fake transparency) for quite some time. Especially if it’s only nvidia’s closed drivers who are having trouble doing it properly.

    Have you the standard tricks for improving compositing performance with the nvidia drivers?

    Comment by sandsmark — March 30, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

  6. First of all, I highly appreciate what the plasma devs have done with regard to plasma. Writing this new architecture from ground up in a manner that will be future-proof and not cluttered by hacks is one of the things that made KDE4 difficult to accept for some but ultimately successful.

    Second, zwabel, I appreciate that you stepped up and worked on this. You are right that there are many for whom compositing just does not work well. If you are also right that this can be alleviated rather easily and without too many drawbacks (i.e. not too much code spread across the libraries; not too big performance hits due to suboptimal ways of rendering the panel; etc.), then you might be right.

    However, given that there is an ongoing discussion between you and others on plasma-devel and on the reviewboard, even with some developers (halfway) supporting you, I do not quite understand why you had to post this publicly and make it a huge issue. Why don’t you just lean back and wait a while until the discussion has reached some a little bit more final state before scolding the plasma developers on your blog?

    This aside, what are the drawbacks? What is the difference between the way plasmoids are drawn on the desktop and this new “hack” for the panel? You make it seem as if it was exactly the same. Is this true?

    Comment by mutlu — March 30, 2009 @ 11:28 pm

  7. @sandsmark
    yeah, opensouce drives do a better job than closed source drivers? nope!
    use intel hardware on kubuntu 9.04.
    * with EXA you get a unuseable desktop, garbage everywhere.
    * with UXA you can’t use compositing because it freezes your desktop.
    * with XAA.. drawing the desktop by hand could be faster…

    Comment by foobar — March 30, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  8. @foobar: I use Intel drivers on Arch Linux, and have no trouble (I don’t know what rendering technology I use, probably EXA, I currently don’t have any xorg.conf).

    Anyways; the intel drivers suck, I agree (these new funky shaders would be nice, for one).

    But I only ever hear complaints about bad performance from people with nvidia graphics cards.

    And I don’t think the plasma developers oppose faking compositing just out of spite.

    Comment by sandsmark — March 30, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

  9. @mutlu: Well, all plasma developers who commented(also by email) were contra, and I didn’t want a 1 against 10 discussion. Also I was frustrated by the arguments.

    About the drawing: It’s not much difference from a technical point of view. Whenever a piece of the desktop that is covered by the panel is re-painted, the panel is told so, grabs the specific exact repainted area, and repaints itself in that area using the rendered piece of the desktop as background. It could still be slightly optimized, but should be ok as it is.

    Comment by zwabel — March 30, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  10. Thanks for submitting this code. I hope it’s accepted, since FGLRX performance with compositing is terrible.

    Comment by Jason — March 31, 2009 @ 12:23 am

  11. @Jason: it isn’t going to be accepted. it is better for you if your desktop looks like shit and has horrible performance, your suffering will make ATI produce better drivers. (apparently utilising the same method by which your prayers make Santa bring better presents)

    Comment by jimmy "koolaid" jones — March 31, 2009 @ 12:33 am

  12. Since the panel is a plugin, why not just provide your own panel-plugin that includes the patch? :)

    Comment by Sebastian Sauer — March 31, 2009 @ 12:42 am

  13. @mutlu
    I look at the reviewboard thread and I see two people replying, one of which says this <100 line patch utilising existing plasma technologies would nigh on instantly turn it into a ‘pile of hacks’, the other who says he can’t tell any difference in performance between composited and not and therefore its not a problem. Both of these points are fairly ridiculous. Hit alt-shift-f12 and do a quick comparison of moving and resizing windows, changing virtual desktops and run your mouse along the menus with them open. The difference is abundantly clear.

    But both thoroughly ignore the bigger issue; you can’t always run composited. As has been mentioned, some hardware doesn’t have the spare power to run it. Older hardware, power critical mobile hardware and many others cover this. Saying ‘go buy a cheap graphics card’ is really pointless and quite naive, the only people without the ability to run compositing aren’t people sitting at home with their arms firmly crossed next to their relatively new desktop computer with an unfilled PCIe slot. I hate the idea that I run KDE4 on my desktop but if I get a low-powered portable computer it wouldn’t be suitable because it just isn’t considered the use-case.

    Even if you do have the hardware, this doesn’t make it a desktop panacea. I do use it, but I also do OpenGL development, and say whatever you want to say about the performance gap closing, but there will always be one, there cannot not be when you add an extra layer of redirection and an extra context switch to your GL execution. I also sometimes switch back just for the responsiveness, as I said I find it very noticeable. Further, my second computer runs KDE3, and the difference in responsiveness between KDE4 composited and KDE3 non-composited is so brutal it hurts me in my sleep.

    I think regardless of whether this patch is accepted something has to be done. Images that look good as tints with 50% transparency do not necessarily look good as solid pixmaps, generally they look quite bad. Whether what needs doing is proper panel backgrounds for non-transparent cases or this patch I cannot say, but something does need to be done.

    Comment by Linds — March 31, 2009 @ 12:42 am

  14. @Sebastian Sauer: The answer is quite simple: Because I want to improve KDE..

    Comment by zwabel — March 31, 2009 @ 1:00 am

  15. Sory but this is not an improvment at all, that hackish way of making transparency is somthing I was extremly happy to not use ever again.
    The result is very very tacky and visualy says I’m a hack. And worst of all its a step on the wrong direction we want to keep presuring the hardware makers to do their joob well, not give sidways for them to do nothing.Its time they keep up with us as they have to in other platforms.

    Comment by nuno pinheiro — March 31, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  16. @sandsmark

    Dude. Go fly a kite. I have intel integrated graphics on both my macbook and my lenovo netbook, and non composited plasma themes look like crap. Except maybe Oxygen and Aya. All others are extremely ugly without composting enabled. If you run enough load on either of those systems, compositing is automatically turned off by KDE. And if you want to take Aaron’s word, you can go jack off with him. You should try using Kubuntu Jaunty Beta sometime. KDE repainting performance sucks with or without compositing and with XRender or OpenGL.

    I suggest you do some useful work like bringing YOUR chakra project out of its eternal alpha that it is stuck in, instead of pointing fingers at zwabel for his good work.

    Comment by I Love — March 31, 2009 @ 1:23 am

  17. 00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 82G33/G31 Express Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 02)
    Subsystem: Elitegroup Computer Systems Device 2639
    Control: I/O+ Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx+
    Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B+ ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort- <TAbort- SERR- <PERR- INTx-
    Latency: 0
    Interrupt: pin A routed to IRQ 2301
    Region 0: Memory at fea80000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=512K]
    Region 1: I/O ports at dc00 [size=8]
    Region 2: Memory at d0000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=256M]
    Region 3: Memory at fe900000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=1M]
    Capabilities: [90] Message Signalled Interrupts: Mask- 64bit- Queue=0/0 Enable+
    Address: fee0f00c Data: 4179
    Capabilities: [d0] Power Management version 2
    Flags: PMEClk- DSI+ D1- D2- AuxCurrent=0mA PME(D0-,D1-,D2-,D3hot-,D3cold-)
    Status: D0 PME-Enable- DSel=0 DScale=0 PME

    Distributor ID: Ubuntu
    Description: Ubuntu jaunty (development branch)
    Release: 9.04
    Codename: jaunty

    Runs like a champ! No lag, no breakage, super fast. So where is this Intel and Kubuntu 9.04 garbage coming from? I have a laptop with even lower specs as it is now 3 years old approximately with a Celeron 1.5GHz CPU and 2GB of ram, and it runs fine as well, granted not as well as this desktop of course. I will use nothing other than Intel hardware until the others free their stuff up. Intel has been wonderful to me and my many systems as well as many users around the world.

    I have noticed issues with NVIDIA on others machines with different OS’s, and they all pretty much reacted the same. By the way, my Intel drivers and config are all stock, don’t mess with them, and they work great. I don’t play any games, but if I did I am sure the Intel chips suck there.

    @foobar – note my specs, I use those Intel drivers on Kubuntu 9.04.

    Comment by nixternal — March 31, 2009 @ 1:25 am

  18. Here we go again. Usual KDE way of dealing with things. “Is there some issue with your desktop? Then maybe it is the distro. Maybe it is the graphics card. Maybe it is the your grandma. Maybe it is the alignment of the stars.” Everything except taking responsibility.

    Comment by I Love — March 31, 2009 @ 1:29 am

  19. @nuno If you have compositing enabled it won’t be used, so why get upset about it being available?

    >> The result is very very tacky and visualy says I’m a hack.

    Purely subjective. Obviously zwabel thinks it looks much better (and I would agree).

    >> And worst of all its a step on the wrong direction we want to keep presuring the hardware makers to do their joob well, not give sidways for them to do nothing.

    So you’re willing to make the experience worse for lots of users to pressure hardware makers? That’s pretty selfish. That will guarantee a substandard experience for some users forever. Some hardware will never support compositing properly, so those users will never see the benefits. I agree with not adding needless complicated hacks to allow this, but this patch is really not a big deal at all.

    I use compositing at work and I like it, but it is definitely slower than non-composited desktop. At work my card/drivers (nvidia) are good enough that the tradeoff is worth it, but at home I have an ati card (much faster, but the drivers suck) so I can’t run compositing of any kind with acceptable performance. Same with my EeePC (intel drivers). So out of 3 computers, only one can run compositing properly. Making the experience worse for those 2 other computers for no good reason is ridiculous.

    Comment by Leo S — March 31, 2009 @ 1:43 am

  20. @nixternal
    The rest of us aren’t used to our computers crawling! When I turn on kwin compositing the gnome panel takes forever to show the drop down menu, and gnome-chess with 3d turned on makes my Dell mini crawl.

    Don’t even get me started on how slow Konqueror is when I turn on KWin composting. When I use fluxbox with xcompmgr my laptop flies!!! KDE uses 3x the memory and don’t tell me it’s my distro again, I tried this on Kubuntu AND Ubuntu and got the same problems.

    Comment by I Love — March 31, 2009 @ 1:57 am

  21. Hi all, compositing has a big problem with DRI. When an DRI application like ‘mplayer -vo gl’ or GoogleEarth is running the screens flickers because of the way compositing is implemented, that affects all video drivers except Intel with DRI2 and Nvidia, which by the way has a proprietary implementation of DRI. The only solution is using DRI2, which only works with Intel driver nowadays. I have an ATI X700 and prefer to disable compositing so that I can use mplayer and GoogleEarth. ATI proprietary driver has problems with Xv and suspend to disk so I have to use ‘-vo gl’. Until DRI2 is released compositing will be problem, not a solution. Maybe next year it can be useful, but for me I prefer to disable compositing.

    Comment by Lamarque V. Souza — March 31, 2009 @ 2:10 am

  22. Bravo for taking a stand! I got tired of the Powers-That-Be at KDE telling me to bugger off and get a new video card. So I did. But not everyone has that option. Not everyone has the spare cash to afford one, nor the skill to install one, nor the skill to endlessly tweak their xorg.conf until it finally works. Or maybe they have a laptop and couldn’t swap out the video chips even if they wanted to.

    Comment by David Johnson — March 31, 2009 @ 2:32 am

  23. @I Love (#20)

    You do a good “I Love” imitation.

    Comment by I Love — March 31, 2009 @ 2:37 am

  24. >I tried this on Kubuntu AND Ubuntu and got the same problems.


    Comment by lololo — March 31, 2009 @ 2:37 am

  25. I’m using an ATI w/ the OSS drivers and compositing works relatively well. Also, I may be writing the longest comment in the world.

    > I tried this on Kubuntu AND Ubuntu and got the same problems.
    Err, Uh, Mm. Hate to break it to you, but Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu, and all the rest of them use the same X, the same kernel, and the same KDE. It’s the X and kernel that matter in this case.

    > You do a good “I Love” imitation.
    If #20 was not I Love, then whoever-(s)he-is ought to be nagged as badly as I Love ever was. Impersonating someone else is wrong, whether that person be Reiser, Thorvald, Satan, God, Obama, Stallman, or I Love.

    > I got tired of the Powers-That-Be at KDE telling me to bugger off and get a new video card.
    Actually, I think the message is “get off your butts, driver developers, and fix your drivers”, not “get off your butts, users, and empty your pockets”.

    > Purely subjective. Obviously zwabel thinks it looks much better (and I would agree).
    Honestly, a composited panel looks better than a hacked panel, though a hacked panel looks better than a grey panel.

    > Anyways, I would take Aaron’s word for it if he says that faking compositing in software is bad, considering he maintained kicker (with fake transparency) for quite some time.
    I would be inclined to agree, though if the hacks are placed high enough in the stack (say, kdelibs), and not in the panel itself, it won’t be a big problem. Hacks done properly :).

    Comment by Michael "Wishy Washy" Howell — March 31, 2009 @ 3:02 am

  26. KDE is changing too much, it’s sort of half-baked, it’s like a playground for testing out ideas and such.
    It’s really daunting imho, since i used kde4 myself since alpha up till 4.2.1 or something like that and switched back to gnome.

    KDE4 needs more time to get complete and polished. Use gnome for now, when the future will come i’ll switch back to KDE as well. Screw fake transparency in the future :P use the real thing.

    For now, you should make better use of your time perhaps (even make patches that are actually more important).. and make more money so you can buy better hardware :P


    Comment by Dread Knight — March 31, 2009 @ 3:23 am

  27. @ I Love #20 and #23

    Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but in this case it’s annoying. You should stop and go get your own SN’s. But you typical kde drones can’t even be that creative all you do is copy someone else’s work. What copying Windows and OSx wasn’t enough for you so you decided to steal my sn too?

    I have never said that Kubuntu and Ubuntu were the same. But as a matter of fact I HAVE seen the same issues running kde on Arch and on Kubuntu, so you got one part right, the distro doesn’t matter it’s the delusional kde developers who are to blame.

    @ Wishy Washy
    Your name does match you ideas, like the typical kde fanboy. Even if you see the problems with kde4 you still come up with stupid reasons to make yourself like it. ITS SOFTWARE NOT A RELIGION! If it doesn’t work (kde) use what does work (gnome) and stop coming up with excuses just cause you bought aaron and friend’s koolaide doesn’t mean you have to keep drinking it. I thought he might have a point to begin with as well, but once kde4 came out I at least had the sense to call his bluff. But I do give you credit for at least noticing there was a problem, keep digging and you’ll see the light.

    @ all you kde fanboys
    You should all just try using gnome for a 5 minutes and you’ll see the speed differences. If you use kde long enough you’ll fool yourself into thinking it’s fast and useful, but 5 min with gnome and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Break out of your cocoon.

    Comment by I Love — March 31, 2009 @ 4:23 am

  28. KDE4 needs more time to get complete and polished. Use gnome for now!!! We (normal && enterprise users) need Solids Rock Desktop,, Kde 4.2.x (4.3.x) is still a playground for testing crazy ideas and leaving unfinished features, The normal user does no care too much about bleedging edge tech or the super whooper widget or the super Aqua theme, normal users needs a functional and not too much eye candy desktop (OSX, Windows), please KDE comunnuty focus your development in a non-geek profile of user.

    Comment by Marco — March 31, 2009 @ 4:34 am

  29. I, for one, don’t buy that composition has to be slow. I run KDE 3.5 with kompmgr and compositing is damn fast on my ATI Radeon X300 (ThinkPad T43). In fact, it’s almost on par with non-compositing. Granted, I had to tweak xorg.conf a little bit, but not by much anymore. Even Compiz is pretty good these days on the same hardware. When I moved to KDE 4, I find everything is incredibly slow, even without compositing. In fact, it seems that with each new release of Qt 4, things get yet slower. Why? I thought they even spent time trying to improve performance. Apparently, it only counts if you have the latest nVidia and certain blessed ATI cards. Honestly, with computers and cards as fast as they are, even stuff from 4-5 years ago should have absolutely no trouble running a usable composited desktop. Animations: eh, maybe not. But simple things like full buffering of windows, shadows and translucency should be fast. I just don’t think the KDE devs care enough to make it fast when it clearly could be. I have proof on my system that compositing can be snappy. Alas, because I really like KDE, but I can’t stay on 3.5 forever…

    Comment by Joel — March 31, 2009 @ 4:39 am

  30. When I first saw this post on Planet KDE I thought… wow!
    Because, actually one of my first thoughts and negative complaints about plasma was that the panel was not transculent without compositing, while the plasmoids were.
    And then I saw that this patch would be rejected…

    Well, no matter how good graphic card you have – the truth is that gaming + compositing is a non-working solution if you run intensive games like Sauerbraten, Regnum Online, even Teeworld or wine games.
    It gives so sluggish performance.

    In these situations it would be nice with a fake transparent theme, as I do actually use my computer for gaming 50% of the time I spend infront of it.

    Comment by Znurre — March 31, 2009 @ 4:53 am

  31. @nuno pinheiro: See, that is _exactly_ the plasma attitude I’m complaining about in my blog, and you’re prooving the complaint is valid.

    Sometimes you’ve got to forget about the great picture, and just look at the users. You’re letting them suffer with this approach. How should a simple user fix his closed source graphics driver, problems in the X stack, etc? He doesn’t even care about all that technical stuff, and he’s right so.

    Comment by zwabel — March 31, 2009 @ 6:57 am

  32. I don’t run composited mode for a simple reason: I need my Laptop(with two batteries) to last throughout my lectures on any given day(which may range from to to 8 hours straight without the chance to recharge) and compositing(I have an AMD/ATI laptop) kills my battery.

    So very simply: I don’t use compositing. If themes look like crap without compositing then something is *very* wrong.

    Comment by Agony — March 31, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  33. But seriously, who puts windows under his panel, and wants to see them? <- I do.

    Comment by Stefan Sarzio — March 31, 2009 @ 7:37 am

  34. I also would like the kde devs to listen to users much more. There are serious technical issues that make the desktop unusable in many cases. For example the display driver issue is pretty bad.

    I have machines with chips from nvidia, ati, intel, and s3. Only the ones from nvidia (gf6600 and gf8400) allow enabling the desktop effects. All others have serious driver issues and simply don’t work (fps rates below 20 are not acceptable on modern machines). I like the idea that hw vendors should open their sources, but forcing them this way doesn’t work – the KDE project does not have enough momentum. E.g. nvidia has a large graphics stack that definitely isn’t going to be open sourced. Drivers for radeons are still very immature and the proprietary ones unstable. I don’t know why my intel chips don’t want to support e.g. compositing. Maybe the drivers in debian experimental are too old (do you really expect average joe to checkout from development repositories and build their own drivers :S). The kernel devs are moving graphics code to the kernel. It will take a long while before Linux will have a decent graphics stack model that all major vendors follow. In the meantime several kde4 versions will be released, and all of them will be more or less unusable for a large audience.

    These are not the only issues. Kde4 has much larger memory requirements than kde3. Have you considered supporting e.g. LTSP and thin client computing. With all the applications leaking so much memory and crashing all the time, the joy of being an LTSP administrator resembles eating poop. Seriously, try running a kde4 application server for 7 days with 10 users. You need hundreds of gigs of ram..

    Then many of the core applications crash way too often. E.g. Kmail nicely moves messages between folders asynchronously. However, if you do something else while it’s busy, it nicely crashes. Akregator crashes often too, without saving the session and all the tabs like konqueror. Plasma 4.2.1 in newest kubuntu crashed when I changed the K menu to use the classic view. Koffice is pretty eager to crash, too.

    The applications still lack features. E.g. akregator integration is missing from konqueror. Flash dooesn’t work with konqueror on all machines. Does the desktop background yet support gradients like kde3 did?

    With all these flaws, I don’t get why people like Aaron Seigo are so damn arrogant. I know delivering good software isn’t easy, but you could also admit that the quality isn’t quite in par with kde3 or any other widely used desktop environment yet.

    Comment by miasma — March 31, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  35. [...] post: Pushing Immature Technology onto the User « Zwabel’s Weblog :desktop, drivers, future, graphics, News, Technology, time, ubuntu, windows No comments for [...]

    Pingback by Pushing Immature Technology onto the User « Zwabel’s Weblog - Local Tech Experts — March 31, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  36. No I dont, I don’t I took great care to make everthing look as good as possible without composition, and the result is mostly ok with defoult…. if some theme outhere does not work, go and bug the theme maker, themes can actualy be diferent for one situation or the other.
    I must say the the overal kde visual experience with composite is soooo much beter than without, and this hack dosent solve it in the lest bit way and would be flowed by more and more hacks…. example Im working on an animated wallpaper how would you make that work? mayme some more code to make it work….this is how you get a kickoff were any minos change requires 3 months of hard work.

    Comment by nuno pinheiro — March 31, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  37. btw i have an intel and ati and a nvidia board, and i have acel runing fine on every single one of them….
    The ati is prety old like 7 years old.

    Comment by nuno pinheiro — March 31, 2009 @ 8:50 am

  38. This doesn’t make non-compositing desktops ugly. It just means that *some* of the themes don’t look so nice. This is exactly about trying to make a good experience for all users, finding a way to make non-compositing desktops look good without causing maintainability problems which would be detrimental to those desktops.

    Which is not to say that not accepting the patch is the *right answer* only that it is a justifiable one. Plasma could go in the direction of accepting any patches for features that have a significant number of potential users but there are also good arguments for not doing that. Please don’t perpetuate the myth of the evil plasma/KDE4 devs who are bloating the code and only care about making a desktop for widows vista users.

    It is easy for free software to lack coherent design.


    OK so you want to blog because you feel there is support amongst users for this feature but you feel outnumbered on the mailing list – surely it’s better though to present your blog as a discussion, an invitation to users to comment, not as a rant.

    a good theme: I love Plateau, which can be found on kdelook or equivalently on GHNS, it looks great with or without compositing.

    Comment by maninalift — March 31, 2009 @ 9:11 am

  39. For al those that think that the devs aren’t listening:

    It doesn’t mean they will change their minds though. That’s just the way it is. Either accept it or continue trying to convince them with reasoable arguments (not the kind of slagging off I see here).

    Comment by Quintesse — March 31, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  40. @Nuno pinheiro
    It may be nice for you if you are working on something like animated wallpapers – but may I ask why? A wallpaper has one redeeming feature: It must not distract the user (gosh, there is this darn uggly menace again – a user) from interacting with the applications he’s using! When having an animated wallpaper it will render the desktop more beautiful for you but unusable for 99.999% of people that have to work with the desktop. So this feature would be a complete and utter failure if you had to live of the revenue generated from it… That’s the same with most plasmoids, the whole concept of having semi useful applications, some of which require interaction with the user, reside on the desktop pane and thus are obscured by the windows wherein the proper application live in is a big uggly misconception! Compositing makes things only worse because you now have to contend with transparencies where grasping information is getting tedious – what is important: The contents of the top level window or the ever changing background of the plasmoids? It is very very tiresome to always have willingly to sort out this conflict!
    To the plasma developers I have only one thing to say: Ask the users what they really want the most, not what you fancy they might think they need – currently you are projecting your own playground ideas and this makes the plasma desktop one of the worst examples in self serving arrogance funneled down into a program…

    Comment by Karl Günter Wünsch — March 31, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  41. Wow. Look at the aggression all over these comments. And I thought KDE was a friendly community!

    @zwabel: Is there a particular reason that the fake transparency needs to happen? Would you consider it acceptable if the panel and background blended together better — say, if they were color-matched? I agree completely that a big grey block is just horrid but I’m curious as to where the boundary lies for you between “this is all right but it could be better, too bad I don’t use composite” and “this is unacceptable”.

    Comment by necaris — March 31, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  42. Simple solution: Fix any outstanding issues you can find (and fix), put the patch on kde-apps (and maybe maintain it if no one else steps up, all in all its just a small patch) and let the people/packagers decide if they want to use it. I would even step up and help maintaining the patch, as i (or better: we) do stuff like that for years for our KDE packages on Arch Linux (not the official ones but the “KDEmod” community packages).

    Compositing is already very nice on KDE, but i dont use it full-time on my desktop because of two reasons: It triggers bugs in Xorg/drivers/wherever from time to time (especially nice when you always run latest Xorg) and it gets a _lot_ slower when the machine is under load. For example, when compiling and there is a lot of disk activity, my (fairly powerful) desktop machines have problems to stay snappy and sometimes they need several seconds to switch to another desktop, which does not happen without compositing (tested on intel and nvidia with latest drivers). And this happens _now_, and not in the bright future where everyone has the perfect driver, so it does matter :)

    I know, putting this on kde-apps could be the trigger for other discussions (unofficial features in KDE, the “picture” of KDE to users etc) but it would preserve the code, so others can use and maybe even improve it. There are already some ideas in my head about improvements: Make it configurable (= on/off) and add a warning to the config dialog that this feature is unsupported in KDE. We add those warnings to every occasional feature backport we do, and so far the users like it very much, and they actually understand that these are features not supported by KDE.

    I understand the plasma developers for not wanting this stuff, but i also understand the users wanting such features. So why not make both happy :)

    Comment by Jan — March 31, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  43. I’m not using compositing and am very happy with the appearance. It’s no problem at all. So from a users point of view this is not even THAT a big deal, probably 90% won’t even notice the difference (mums, dads, etc…). I second rejecting the patch. Hacks suck, and you as developer know that very much as well ;) And the statement of the plasma developers are quite clear imo and they do provide arguments. Pushing this into a blog because of being frustrated is – imho – not the way to go. Sorry… It sounds like starting flamewars. And we developers do know better, don’t we?

    Comment by dhaumann — March 31, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  44. Well, my friend you are absolutely right. I guess KDE developers found a new “playground” and they started a frenzy developing race. To my opinion the two most buggy software right now are Compiz (yes I believe it is in the first place) and KDE4. Compiz developers do not push you to use it! So, I don’t care about the bugs in Compiz. Its developers make clearly a good effort to fix all the bugs, and also Compiz looks truly nice.
    In the case of KDE4… I see more and more bugs every time. I see people try to push me to use KDE4 while I was really happy using my KDE3.5. Everytime I use KDE4 I see that, yes, it looks so nice with all the visual improvements, _BUT_ every application that was ported to KDE4 is like the developers ported only half of the application (!) forgetting many of its helpful features that they provided in KDE3. And I have to wait until they get serious and port the rest of the features to the KDE4 version of this application. If I make a list of what I like/dislike in the KDE3 applications and what I like/dislike in the same KDE4 application, I will see a great list of “likes” in KDE3 and “dislikes” in KDE4.
    We are people who try to make Linux and Open Source Software known to the rest of the world and convince people that it is really stable and good to use instead of some other proprietary software as “Bugindows”. So, if I wanted to perform good marketing… (yes, actually it is a form of marketing) then I would let KDE4.2.1 to be the first version of KDE, KDE 4.0. What do I mean? The developers of KDE4 were in a hurry to give something new, despite how buggy and problematic and unusable it was, to the community of Linux. I believe that now is the first time that people should see KDE4 as version 4.0, now that things are better in that software.
    I don’t like that one of the major distributions of Linux using KDE -openSUSE- is dumping KDE3. It is too early for that because KDE4 is not THAT mature. People need their computers to work and not to just test the new versions of the software!

    Thank you for your time guys.

    Comment by Elias Chrysocheris — March 31, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  45. @Karl Günter Wünsch couse alot of people have been asking me for it :)
    yeah dont think its the best idea in the world but then again its not allways what I want but what our user base wants…. if it dosent messup the code then there no reason not to do it….

    Comment by nuno pinheiro — March 31, 2009 @ 11:17 am

  46. I can only second what Karl Günter Wünsch, Jan and Elias Chrysocheris said. Actually, I think the whole thing is not about rejecting this patch or whatsoever but about the arrogance attitude especially of the plasma team. I really love KDE and used it since 1.0 but it seems this time with the plasma part, which I think is needed and cool, something seems wrong with the attitude or communication.
    It is great to have all these fancy features but it should have a stable base before implementing all this stuff. For example when there is a plasma widget plasma that is broken somehow plasma crashes, many times it even refused to start unless I removed the plasma configuration files. That is nothing a normal user wants to do or can figure out. Without compiz it does look ugly in my opinion especially with non-default themes that are transparent. Transparency looks nice but why must it become black without compiz enabled? I am not sitting in a dark room all the time.
    The latest xorg and intel driver versions together with the kernel are driving me crazy here especially with compiz enabled. When xorg-server 1.5 end of last year was introduced it was unusably slow and since then it didn’t become better. Now there is a huge memory leak with compiz enabled. With the latest git versions I can’t enable compiz for some reason. It is probably not KDEs fault but it is worst in KDE when I move plasma widgets or use desktop effects. And then there are the not so occasional black screens and freezes without doing something and of course when switching to a terminal. Interestingly, I am on KDE 4.3svn now and everything (compiz disabled) is more responsive and less often crashes. For example deleting/moving/copying files in dolphin was terribly slow or I even had to wait a couple of seconds before anything happened.
    What I am trying to say is there should be a stable base for fancy features and the option to disable it while behaving and looking normal. I think all those replies like “it does work here” and “use this or that distribution” do not really help anyone. There is so much different hardware and revisions it that it seems almost random when something does or doesn’t work.
    I find it very good when somebody does some work an contributes. Maybe it is a good idea to cooperate with those people for example that maintain the kdemod repository of archlinux. Maybe there is something similar for other distros too.

    Comment by David — March 31, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  47. @ all Plasma developers
    I really like the work you’re doing, and I understand the reasons why you want to “force” hardware makers to make better drivers. But the situation is this: I’m using an old laptop (like from 2004) and I have compositing working, but when I’m on battery, I usually switch it off because the power drain is too high. Still, I’d like to see my wallpaper through the panel because it looks nice, and I’d like to see it even when I’m running on batteries (when compositing is switched off). So why not look at Zwabel’s code, and if it’s not clean enough for your standards clean it a little bit? And yeah, don’t the plasmoids use some kind of fake transparency? So why not use the same (almost) code for the panel? Thanks…

    Comment by Anonymous — March 31, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  48. This is…. ridiculous. A mountain out of a molehill if I ever did see one. Back when I was still using XP, if I had to setup XP on a slow machine, I’d just dive right in and tweak everything down to the basics. The default XP theme would have to go and what the user would see are plain Win95-style windows. Sure, it looked ugly as heck, but you can use it still, bottom line. And KDE4 even without compositing looks a darned sight better than most XP themes I’ve seen. But then I’m using Oxygen. Because, as Nuno pointed out, it was created (with great care) to look good with or without compositing turned on. And here we are throwing shit at each other ‘cos some third party created a theme that looks good only with compositing turned on (and even that guy’s not to blamed, he created the theme with his own use case in mind only).

    Some of the posts here complain about Plasma as if it only consists of flaky widgets that don’t amount to any practical use. Hello? Is the “Recent Devices” widget impractical in any way? Or the Powerdevil plasmoid? Or the (soon to be released) NetworkManager widget? This is an entire new standard and consistent platform to create user-facing applications we’re talking about here. Or do you want to continue stuffing everything into the system tray? And keep on looking around aimlessly throughout the mess of icons on your desktop whenever you want to unmount a USB drive? Sure, people can still create useless bouncing balls if they want to but that’s really up to the respective developer’s ability to capitalize on the platform given to them. The fact is, there’s a huge gap in between the use cases where a full fledged windowed application is needed and where a simple icon can just sit idly in the system tray waiting for you to click on it. Plasma fills that gap.

    The hardware/software chicken-and-egg issue: No real answer to this one. Yes, I do recognize that there’re perfectly good hardware that just sucks running KDE4. I’ve got a couple of ‘em clunkers running right in my office. I also just set up a new super low end machine with Kubuntu Jaunty and it positively screams, given the price point (I published a report on that here). We can either take some punishment now, show our (real) numbers to the manufacturers and demand that we be accorded proper respect or we can just make do and make our developers’ lives miserable. The powers that be in KDE thought they had the support of the community in helping them make the squeeze on the manufacturers. Obviously they thought wrong. And if zwabel thinks that this is the wrong way to go, I’d suggest that he works himself up to the top of the food chain in the KDE community, kick Seigo’s ass in a KDE celebrity deathmatch and then have the power to call it as he sees it. Love him or hate him, Seigo’s earned his current standing, as have most community leaders. The rest of us are just cab drivers bitching about how we’d run the country better.

    Comment by feicipet — March 31, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  49. #47 – Aaron has explained why fake transparency works on plasmoids on the desktop but not with the panel:

    Comment by feicipet — March 31, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  50. @47 (Anonymous)

    Mere interested bystander here, so please take this with a pinch of salt, but:

    The panel is managed by the window manager and not painted directly to the canvas, hence the window managers compositing manager is responsible for allowing transparency etc. Plasmoids are managed entirely within Qt/QGraphicsView, which allows for “faked” transperency even in scenarios where compositing is disabled.

    Now, I may be missing something terrible obvious here (for example recent developments in trunk, etc.), but I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier (and in the light of the plasma developers – very understandable – stance to keep the code base as clean as possible right from the start also less controversial) to

    * allow for different panel configurations per activity (e.g. no “panel” at all in one activity, for example, while keeping the regular panel in all other activities, etc. ) and
    * providing a “paneloid” which could take the role of the wm controlled panel but is a bona fide plasmoid und thus painted directly by Qt, including all the fake transperency bells and whistles

    I definitly sympathise with dave and all the other users that crave for semi/full transparent panels without
    WM – level composition support, but I can relate to the desire of the plasma devs to keep the code base without
    live saving hacks right from the start probably even more.

    Comment by setec_astronomy — March 31, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  51. This may not be very helpful for people with “lower” end computers, but for those of you with Nvidia cards etc. If compiz worked for you, and you care about compositing that much then you can use compiz as your window manager, it’s quite easy to enable from the configuration center. This probably doesn’t help the vast majority of you, but it might help someone.

    Perhaps, then we could have artists make the non-composited panels look nicer. As opposed to inserting random patches that force things to work. I sympathize but I fail to see how this is such a large issue. I mean really? Your panels aren’t transparent so now kde developers are terrible people for not wanting you to have transparent panels anyway because it makes their code base more difficult to manage? Keep in mind, if this patch goes through, the patch submitter isn’t likely to be maintaining that code so it’s the developer who will have to haul it around and it’s the developer who will be responsible if 1 or 2 years later that code causes problems.

    It’s like if someone offered to install a stronger engine on your car because they wanted to practice their mechanic skills, but you get to keep the engine. The only problem is the rest of your car isn’t designed to hold such a large and powerful engine so once they are done and satisfied with their mechanic skills you’ll be left with a really nice engine, that is very likely to cause you MORE car trouble in the future.

    Now people, there are plenty of more important things to worry about then just the panel. I’m sure artists are now going to start paying attention to non-composited panel looks now. In the mean time you can use slim-glow, which is a very nice looking theme regardless of compositing.

    Comment by AhmedG — March 31, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

  52. @David: this is just ridiculous, who the heck are you accusing the KDE devs of arrogance? What the heck did you ever do for KDE that you feel you deserve to talk about them like that? Zwavel at least DID something, the rest of you can only slag off, it’s disgusting!

    Comment by Quintesse — March 31, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  53. I’m using a Radeon 4870 with fglrx and compositing disabled, because It feels sluggish as hell, but I don’t mind that the panel doesn’t support fake transparency.

    Comment by anon — March 31, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  54. @Quintesse: I am sure the developers can defend themselves if they have to. You don’t have to kiss their asses.
    If you would have read that correctly, you would have noticed that I said plasma team. And since when isn’t it allowed any more to criticize and make suggestions? If I were you I would be very careful with accusations on your own. Contributing in my opinion means also testing and giving feedback if one is not a programmer. Don’t you think I thought about it before I sent my comment?
    Furthermore, I wrote that I like KDE and think that plasma is a good thing. My point was that it needs a stable foundation before adding more and more features and that people should have the choice of using compiz or not. The rest was pretty much my subjective experience as well from using and testing the latest KDE and xorg stuff. Reading the developers blogs and communication with some of them gave me sometimes the impression of an arrogant attitude which might be eventually a communication mistake.
    Some things were also an opinion for example about the wallpaper which nuno was asked for as he said. I am not saying he isn’t allowed to do that only that I think it is not an important feature. Maybe I was a bit to harsh on that. As long as it doesn’t decrease stability, interferes with the rest and can be turned of I don’t care if it’s there.

    Comment by David — March 31, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  55. @David: you are allowed to criticize, but you should do it constructively. Calling devs arrogant when they don’t do what you want them do is NOT going to make them feel any better. Maybe you don’t care about any of that but provided they are doing all the work I think you should cut them some slack.

    Maybe you have encountered arrogant devs, sure, but in THIS very specific case the responsable dev has even written on his own blog explaining WHY he refused the patch. Does he sound arrogant to you? You might not agree, that’s fine, I’m sure he will gladly listen to your comments. But instead he only encounters bitter comments and people slagging off the hard work he’s doing.

    And did you REALLY think before sending your comment? You say that SOMETIMES you got the IMPRESSION that SOME of the devs were arrogant and yet you were able to turn that into “the arrogance attitude especially of the plasma team”. Just peachy.

    This is not ass kissing, this is asking for a bit of respect for the people who are ACTUALLY doing all of the hard work, which I guess is almost nobody who vented their opinion here (except for Nuno and I know he has been tempted to give up at times because of all the negative reactions to his work).

    Comment by Quintesse — March 31, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  56. Hi love you post.

    Comment by hling99 — March 31, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  57. Having read all of the comments here I think it’s safe to say that one upset developers rant has been turned into a name calling childish slap fight! You guys should be so proud, you give Linux users such a great name ;)

    If I had submitted a patch that was rejected my reaction would be to learn why it had been rejected and look at ways to change it so it became submitted. I would want to prove my ability rather than start a slanging match.

    I run a bottom end R40 Thinkpad using Intel drivers and I have no problem with KWin/Plasma or any part of my desktop. It runs as good as my high end Thinkpad (which also runs Intels drivers and both are running Arch). And yes I have a transparent panel on both.

    I think that the Plasma dev’s should be proud of the work they have done and what they have achieved. If someone on my team submits code that is in my view not up to par I would follow the near same thought process outlined in Aarons blog.

    I guess that perhaps the answer here might be to create a panel plasmoid that could provide the same functionality as a plasma panel but which can also provide the non-composited transparency contained in your magic 100 lines??

    Comment by TheGreatGonzo — March 31, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  58. @TheGreatGonzo: Yeah, but that would mean a _lot_ more code, that has to be maintained just for the non-composition users. —> Not going to happen..

    The problem is not about the patch itself, but it’s about the attitude. A solution to this problem is not wanted, because the solution is buying new hardware and praying that the drivers are good.

    Comment by zwabel — March 31, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  59. Sometimes I think the KDE team just decided “to hell with the users, let’s play around with some cool shit”. The story of this patch being rejected reinforces that idea. I can understand wanting to go a different direction with a new version of the DE, but telling your establish user base to shove off when they complain about the direction you’re heading isn’t very good. Telling developers to shove off when they try to contribute code that would not affect the direction you’re heading while helping out some significant percentage of users… that’s just suicidal.

    Comment by wolfger — March 31, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  60. @wolfger: where exactly do they tell users to “shove off”?

    Comment by Quintesse — March 31, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  61. OK so your only willing to supply a solution if it means it can be written in less than 100 SLOC? Good job everyone else has a different attitude.

    It’s funny. I am the worlds biggest Linux and OSS fan but sometimes it’s embarrassing to be linked to the community. Do you hear Windows users moaning about not being about to run Vista on Windows 3.1 capable machines? Or Apple die – hards bemoaning that new features do not run on ancient machines? I’m not sure why people think a desktop environment has to support 486 based machines!! If your running older hardware then run a desktop that fits….. GNOME or XFCE or any of the other lighter weight desktops/window managers etc.

    If you can achieve what you need running KDE 3.10 I see no problem. Get hardware that is capable or quit moaning. At this rate KDE 25 and Gnome 4(which will be released about the same time!) will still be expected to handle 486 based machines.

    Comment by TheGreatGonzo — March 31, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  62. @wolfger:

    “to hell with the users, let’s play around with some cool shit”

    Plasma is a platform for functionalities that fill in a gap between full-fledged windowed applications and those that get previously got shoved into the system tray whether appropriate or not. That’s what it was designed to do (ok, this is my interpretation of it). The attitude that is displayed by the plasma team right now is “hey, if the cool shit works, fine; otherwise at least the widget still works”. What zwabel is fighting for right now is the inclusion of a hack to make fake translucent panels. Sounds like “cool shit” to me. Pretty, yet frivolous and does nothing for practical usage. So who exactly are you criticizing here?

    And if you think Plasma in general is just all about “cool shit” that isn’t relevant to users’ needs, let’s put it down to plain facts:
    1) Is the “Device Notifier” widget impractical? I love the fact that I have a consistent location to look for USB devices instead of it appearing randomly all over my desktop.
    2) Is the PowerDevil widget frivolous? With it, I now have a richer interface to view the status of my laptop battery plus a nice drop-down box to select power profiles. Compare that to previous systray-based apps where all I had was a set of cascading menus that was tricky to navigate.
    3) Is the new NetworkManager widget redundant? The previous knetworkmanager systray applet was a pain to use. I’m playing around with the new widget on Jaunty and while it can be improved, it’s a lot better than knetworkmanager both in terms of functionality and looks.
    4) Is the (yet to be released) Input Method widget useless? I’m currently forced to use the QT-bridge for scim and frankly speaking, I’m fed up of it. Getting interoperability in KDE with a tool that was designed for Gnome is always tricky and I’d vote for a native app any given day.

    Sure, you get the useless bouncing balls as well in the package but to say Plasma is all about “cool shit” is seriously fscked up.

    Comment by feicipet — March 31, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  63. Nobody pointed out that in this discussion looks like not having the panel transparent somehow makes your PC unusable. I wonder how you guys managed to work in the last 50 years.

    Every occasion to flame KDE is nice, I see that. Nobody is forcing you to do that, but I remind you that
    1. Nobody is forcing you to use KDE
    2. You’re not paying to use KDE

    Having a panel transparent is not my first priority. Then someone says “When I’m in powersaving mode, the desktop looks ugly”. Looks sane. Ever wondered why “powersaving” is called this way? I suppose the next complaint will be “When I’m in powersaving mode, the PC feels slower and the monitor is not bright enough, and it’s all fault of KDE”. Please, read the discussion on plasma-devel. If the issue is that in powersaving your pc looks uglier, you can simply not enable it and lose your 15 minutes of additional battery life

    Comment by drfav — March 31, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  64. @Quintesse: Well, I’m not sure who’s a dev and who isn’t, but comments like @drfav’s “Nobody is forcing you to use it, and you’re not paying for it” are the sentiment I’m talking about. I was a loyal proponent of KDE 3.*, and when I complained of previously existing features that were gone from KDE4, I got flak for it. Wish I could point you to a more concrete example, but as they say… perception is sometimes more important than reality.

    @feicipet: So you’re saying that false transparency has never existed in KDE? Because I recall it being there in 3.5 for sure. This is not a “frivolous hack”, it’s a patch to restore functionality that KDE used to have. I’m still waiting for the day when 4 > 3.5 (we’re getting close, finally!)

    Comment by wolfger — March 31, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

  65. @zwabel
    Your reasoning about “pushing immature technology” doesn’t sound right or pertinent to me. In fact, I think you spoke following emotions more than reason. Maybe tomorrow you will see all the story under a different light ;)

    Anyway I’m firmly convinced that every project needs some form of direction, even opensource ones. Usually the advantages the project gains from having a direction are much more than the damages it takes from mistakes of the direction itself.

    Blogging in this way was a wrong way to handle that discussion: I don’t see how all this noise can do something useful for the project, or even for supporting you own convictions. I think you are realizing this, and I’m sure you would have acted in a very different way if you had waited just another day to calm down before posting ^^”

    Well, although it seems clear that the discussion is now beyond technical matters, personally I like how plasma scale without compositing, and I think that if any themes look bad, it’s a problem of the theme itself, since it should account the absence of compositing for the artwork, as plasma does for the technical side.

    cheers… and sorry for my English!

    - Antonio

    Comment by Antonio — March 31, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  66. @wolfget: I’m a developer, and I’ll tell you a story.

    Imagine you start baking a cake. It takes you days to do it. Then, after a week of baking it, you’re giving it away for free under your house, not only to your friends, but to people you don’t even know!
    Now, you have a very small strawberry on the top of your big cake. 4 or 5 people you don’t even know tell you that you shouldn’t use strawberries but raspberries because most people like them. Obviously, you know they don’t have a clue on baking cakes, and you try politely to convince them. After they pretend to be right, and you put all your love in your cake, and gave it away FOR FREE TO ANYONE, your feelings are somehow offended.

    The next time you write something like that, please try imaging this, and remember that FLOSS projects are just driven by passion, nothing else. But you people prefer bashing over a transparent panel that you would notice in the 0,5% of the time you’re sitting at your PC. I guess if people complaining about this ever thought about that. And your answer to feicipet is basically what Aaron is trying to tell you people, but after reading some comments I don’t even pretend you are reading more than the title.

    Oh, and to anyone who bashes for free, like #64, I just hope this is not your satisfaction of the day. It would be pretty sad

    Comment by drfav — March 31, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  67. @zwabel – 2
    Maybe starting doing some moderation would be a nice idea…

    - Antonio

    Comment by Antonio — March 31, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  68. I think moderation is useless, since if you wrap the comments from the top you can see half of them are from him. What should be moderated (hint, hint) are posts like that. Please, Dave, keep future discussions inside mailing lists. You see what happens when you unleash those discussions into the wild.

    Ah, chakra is alpha, but works unexpectectly better than your brain

    Comment by drfav — March 31, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  69. @ drfav

    Head over to my blog, and you will see how well moderation works. All contrarian views have been kept at bay. Ramsees has just posted a dissenting view there. Watch how fast I use my superpowers to zap that post.

    And as far as chakra is concerned. FireflyLinux guys will be able to deliver a final Arch based Live CD with netbook compatibility before you wash your brown nose after being an Aaron Seigo Buttboy

    Comment by Aaron Seigo — March 31, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

  70. @wolfger:

    No, I’m not saying that. I know that this particular feature is in KDE 3.5. Then again, even after taking a couple of deep breaths and trying to look at it objectively, I don’t see this as a feature being dropped. A side effect, maybe. But nothing that detracts from anything.

    And for anybody who looks forward to KDE4 being at least on feature-parity with 3.5, in all seriousness and with no malice, take a look at a distro which still supports it. Last I looked, Mepis is a rocking distro which still whole-heartedly supports KDE 3.5. So does Debian Lenny. Those distros which dropped KDE 3.5, they opted in. Ready or not, they opted in. As far as I’m concerned, they bear most of the responsibility for the bulk of complaints about getting a version of KDE that “isn’t ready for production usage”. Most of my staff are still using Hardy with KDE 3.5 and that’s under my instructions. I’ve been testing Kubuntu Intrepid for the past 2 quarters and I’m only mandating an upgrade for them when Jaunty is released (I’m currently testing out Jaunty intensively and I’ve been pretty impressed so far). And to be perfectly frank, if any of my developers come up to me complaining about the lack of transparency/translucency, I’d smack them in the heads and tell ‘em to get back to work :)

    Comment by feicipet — March 31, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  71. I agree totally with this blog post.

    I think the general idea behind compositing is good, however only if you can disable it.

    This trend with pushing this crap onto the user needs to stop. I think Gnome is heading the same direction with the new shell.

    Enlightement is able to do effects on non-composited graphics but somehow KDE and Gnome cannot.

    KISS must never be forgotten.

    Comment by Christoffer — March 31, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  72. @feicipet

    comment 68, paragraph 1: Are you kidding me?

    comment 68, paragraph 2: Well said!

    Comment by wolfger — March 31, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  73. So to summarize this, the KDE/Plasma team declares more than a year ago that they’re not interested in fake transparency.
    A year later someone submits a patch to do _just that_ and is somehow surprised, angry and butt hurt that his patch wasn’t accepted.
    Oh yeah, this is the blogosphere, so this shit’s gotta to be important, right?

    Comment by Trucknut — March 31, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  74. My impression is that this blog is not about the particular patch, but about the general mindset.

    We (KDE) are shipping a product, which includes as very visible part Plasma, and we (KDE) know that Plasma/compositing etc. doesn’t work very well on a relatively wide range of hardware (don’t expect normal users to buy a new graphics card or to update their X drivers just to have a usable desktop), still we say it’s ok, the others have to improve, and users just have to wait until it gets better (with distro updates about every 6 months, so it will take some time).

    I don’t support this attitude, we ship a product, so we must make sure it works well for our users.
    Blaming somebody else is IMO no solution.
    We can blame the graphics driver developers for bad drivers, they can blame us for shipping software which doesn’t work together with their drivers in a good way.


    P.S. Ian Geiser started a simple alternative desktop for KDE4:

    Comment by Alex — March 31, 2009 @ 7:38 pm


    Comment by fake transparency — March 31, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

  76. Speaking of cakes, the story is more like this: Someone bakes a cake and puts a strawberry on it, and give it away. Then you politely inquire as to whether there will be any raspberry cakes in the future. You are told that only idiots and lusers want raspberries, that only your grandfather’s obsolete cakes had raspberries, and that you should go away you filthy GNOME troll.

    Comment by Anonymous by Design — March 31, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

  77. I have to say, I like having a composited desktop, even though my hardware is from five years ago, because it at the very least means we’re doing things /properly/, instead of getting hacks like the old transparent terminals copying from X’s wallpaper.

    Also, I’m currently on an internship working at NVIDIA; believe it or not, despite all the hate mail they get from linux users (the nice mails get posted on the internal wiki :), the NVIDIA driver is in fact making big strides and desktop compositing gets a good deal of attention from the devs.

    Comment by Karantza — March 31, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

  78. FWIW, my brother bought a MSI Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC, and runs it @ 800 Mhz to be used with a recent quad-core and 8 gigs of RAM. Even though we tried every possible setting, the composite desktop feels sluggish, both with fglrx and newest radeonhd (older ones don’t even support it yet), if enough widgets (maybe 5+) are running and some disk i/o happens. Switching a virtual desktop or drawing the desktop after minimizing a window takes ages. Windows 95 on a 80486 is a lot faster.

    Comment by ex-kde-user — April 1, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  79. And that was not a joke although it’s April 1st..

    Comment by ex-kde-user — April 1, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  80. @nuno pinheiro: It looks 100% like real composition, except that it doesn’t show windows under the panel. So how does it “visually” say “I’m a hack”? Also, you as a designer, wouldn’t it be a lot easier if you had to design every theme only once, and have it look equal with composition and without?

    About your other point, that is simply wrong, you can not deny totally doable features from the user just because you want to do pressure on some other party. That simply is not fair to the user. Above that, composition has enough other advantages apart from plasma looking better(Just think of compiz or kwin), so it does not need to be pushed by plasma.

    Comment by zwabel — April 1, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

  81. I fully support your blog post! I’m with KDE since 0.beta4 and I really love what KDE4 could in theory be. Compositing performance is not great for me, but in fact it is even worse without compositing, as far as plamsa is concerned. And reading developers comments I don’t have much hope this will ever change. Leaving users alone by telling them they want to put pressure on hardware makers (even if Nvidia would open all specs, it would take at least a year or two to have a performant free driver!), get another graphics gard or things look better with compositing anyway. This attitude makes me kind of sad. I have a midrange computer and graphics card, and it should be possible to run a snappy nice looking KDE4 on it (I could even do without cube or wobbly windows in that case). But for that the here and now would need to be a priority goal, which it does not seem to be.

    Oh, and to all those who bring the counter argument “It works here, with this driver and that graphics card!”: well nice for you, be happy! But for a lot of others it simply does not work, or not in a usable way!

    So, well, for the moment I put my hopes on KDE 4.3 …

    Comment by Psychotron — April 1, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  82. [...] Pushing Immature Technology onto the User KDE4’s new Desktop shell called Plasma is meant to do everything better then KDE3’s kickoff+kdesktop did. In [...] [...]

    Pingback by Top Posts « — April 2, 2009 @ 12:07 am

  83. [...] But then I saw the great potential of many of the new features of KDE 4 and the generally new approaches to the desktop (Mac OSX esp.), so I just didn’t want to let it go. Using Lenny on all of the computers under my (home) administration except the OpenBSD router, I started testing Kubuntu Jaunty on my laptop. Well the frustration was not gone, I have had still the ridiculous high ram usage (like in the lenny environment) with 400-700 mb for a single KDE4 session+ the fan noise of my laptop (cpu) and the slugginess of the KWin4 effects really kept me or themselves disabling them. There are other smaller bugs as well, but these killed the overall experience and has already started a lot of trouble for the KDE devs. [...]

    Pingback by intel and the effects | whilo’s blogsite — April 13, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  84. Any chance for an updated plasma-workspace-fake-panel-transparency.patch for KDE 4.4 rc1? We’ve been using it with KDE 4.3.4 without any problems what so ever and our users really like it.

    Comment by Texstar — January 25, 2010 @ 4:17 am

  85. @Texstar: I have “ported” it to 4.4 some time ago. Here is the patch if you want to try it:

    It works fine besides one minor issue: Sometimes when you move plasmoids over the top border of a desktop, they appear in the background of a “random” panel. Its just a “display bug” and doesnt happen all the time, and apart from that everything works just dandy.

    Btw, i dont think this patch is a ugly hack because i was able to update it – i am by no means a c++ expert :)

    Comment by Jan — January 25, 2010 @ 7:46 am

  86. @Jan. Thank you very much for the patch link.

    Comment by Texstar — January 25, 2010 @ 8:33 am

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