I’m with Linus: KDE 4 sucks!

A week ago I posted an entry saying that I might use Linux, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A comment to that post by one “JD” said that this was because I have “made bad Linux choices”. Well, having decided to bite the bullet and give Ubuntu with GNOME a try, I’m inclined to agree. KDE might have kept a control-freak like me reasonably happy until now, but compared with Ubuntu’s GNOME, the 4.x variety is just rubbish! Even Linus himself thinks so.

About six weeks ago I switched from Mandriva 2009.0 to openSUSE 11.1, but the problems gradually mounted. Here’s a summary:

  • The hard disk would grind away like a ticking clock when downloading files or streaming video, and would sometimes even lock Firefox or another application until the disk operation had finished. I did try fiddling with swappiness and the I/O scheduler, but none of these made a difference in openSUSE. I hardly ever hear the disk in Ubuntu
  • I couldn’t play audio CDs
  • KDE 4.1.3 would occasionally just die with desktop icons disappearing then all my applications failing to respond; couldn’t even switch to a full terminal to log in
  • Dismounting removable media in Dolphin doesn’t show logical feedback of the change
  • YaST2, even though I said it was better than drakconf, eventually became irritating with its constant refreshing on startup
  • Special effects in KDE 4.x are lame compared to Compiz and aren’t as fast, either
  • The Kicker eventually annoyed me. Yes, I could have switched to the old style, but it just added to the feeling one gets when a product “just feels crap” all over
  • Audacious is available by default in Ubuntu’s repositories and I didn’t have to use a third-party Packman repo to get it
  • Power management for my Dell 2407WFP-HC monitor actually works in Ubuntu. In openSUSE I had to keep switching it off and on all the time if I didn’t want to waste power. After six weeks of this the button doesn’t work anymore and I’ve had to arrange an exchange with Dell
  • After installing VirtualBox in Ubuntu, I didn’t have to reboot for it to work. Not that this is major but I had to reboot in openSUSE for some reason
  • Auto-completion of emails in Kontact didn’t work. Now that I’ve switched to Thunderbird, things are better
  • K3b couldn’t eject burnt DVDs half the time

A problem that I’ve had for some time was the clipboard breaking whenever I ran VirtualBox but I eventually discovered that updating the guest additions to the current version fixed it (no more “ŸŸ” pasting only, yay!) so I can’t blame either Mandriva or openSUSE for that, but I think VirtualBox should detect old tools and notify the user.

So, I now have none of the above problems in Ubuntu 8.10 (I went with the 64-bit version, and so far, no hassles, apart from having to add a -vm switch to my Eclipse icon telling it which Java version to use for Aptana). That’s not to say that there aren’t some things I’d prefer were different in GNOME, so here goes:


  • Can’t drag/drop files onto buttons in the pathbar (have to open a tab first then drag to that tab)
  • I wish there was a List View size between 33% and 50%
  • No rubber-band file selection in List View (this has prevented me from using a GNOME-based distro for ages, but since everything else works so flawlessly in Ubuntu, this is a sacrifice worth making)
  • Pause/resume for file copy operations (and a bit more information) would be nice
  • Needs a way to hide some places in the left column (like partitions I haven’t bothered to format yet)
  • Beeps when deleting files – very annoying! (have to turn off default beep completely!)
  • Doesn’t show current directory size down the bottom


  • It would be nice to be able to see if a package was 32 or 64-bit in Synaptic
  • Ctrl+Tab instead of Ctrl+Alt+Page_Up/Down would be better in gedit
  • You can’t drag/drop files out of File Roller into Nautilus (or anywhere else)
  • Transmission is too basic, even by GNOME standards, and needs a pause/resume all menu item in the tray icon. Just an observation, since I’ve gone with Deluge anyway

Having got those off my chest, I’ve reached the point with KDE 4.x that even these GNOME annoyances are now minor in my view, and I’m prepared to live with them to get an operating system as near perfect as Ubuntu. Even the fonts seem to look better than in openSUSE or Mandriva, which always irked me in KDE. Maybe it was the distro’s choice of fonts, I don’t know; all I care about is the fact that there can be no question in my mind now that Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution for a reason: it just oozes quality! KDE and their distributions are going to have to do a damned fine job before they’ll entice me back now.

19 thoughts on “I’m with Linus: KDE 4 sucks!

  1. After seeing GNOME 3: Beauty To the Bone? on Slashdot today, things aren’t looking good for the future of GNOME. I’m now using Debian with GNOME 2.30.2 and still happy with it. A friend who’s no KDE fan recently switched to Debian+KDE and is actually coping well (for a few weeks so far), but I’m not switching to anything else until Debian stable ditches 2.3x support.

  2. KDE4 really is a total pile of rubbish. KDE 3.5 was the best GUI ever made on earth. As modular as m$’s rubbish GUI without being modal. Took a giant dump from a great height on the antiquated joke that is Apple’s Aqua desktop. Shredded GNOME. Its only real competitor is XFCE and I personally don’t like that because it just reproduces the suckhouse ergonomics of GNOME. So where are we now? No where, there are no good GUI’s anymore. I’ll probably start using XFCE when KDE4 does that One Too Many Things Wrong thing. Its on the verge, so many random things happen without any explanation that you just KNOW the engine is deeply broken. Its so sad. I really hope Trinity gets up. This is one project that needs to be taken back from its ‘developers’, they are sending it backwards not forwards.

  3. My Mandriva with KDE4 recently got messed up, rendering it unable to mount the home folder or any key drives, so I wiped it and put on Ubuntu with Gnome. Anyhow, you know how you can use CTRL+SHIFT+U followed by the appropriate hex digits and then ENTER to type special characters in Gnome? You can’t in KDE. I’m sticking with Gnome from here on.

  4. I think they threw the whole baby out with the bath water with 3.x and the new 4.x baby is still a bit too premature, sadly. I’m not worried now because I couldn’t be more happy with Ubuntu and GNOME.

  5. I can’t use KDE4 because it simply can’t print on two sides of the paper. I’ve got two HP printers that worked fine in KDE3, but won’t duplex on KDE4.

    My god … how hard is to command a printer to duplex? Wouldn’t they have worked it out by NOW?

  6. It has been a year since I posted my change from KDE to Gnome. I have come to appreciate Gnome and the plugins available for Firefox (like Vimperator). I am glad I switched. I can now concentrate on getting work done instead of messing with system inadequacies. Gnome is good.

  7. I wondered what KDE would be like the other day. You’ve saved me some time. I’m 95% happy with Ubuntu. Screen saver is still prone to failure, Evolution has a few major annoyances, and Open Office Base is a joke (not Ubuntu’s fault), but apart from these, it’s perfect. I’d much rather tolerate these known issues than go back to Windows which is a cesspool of diseased software that pimps its users to criminals across the globe.

  8. A year down the track, KDE 4.4 is out and it’s still very poor indeed. OK it looks nice, when it works. But so many of its features still don’t work properly. And its attempt at power management is a sick joke! Once the machine wakes up, lots of applications remain in “disk sleep” mode and don’t respond to kill -9. Consequently the system has to be restarted.

    Like many others, I have given up on KDE4. I tried and tried to use it, and put up with all the bugs. But it’s rubbish! And utterly unusable for anyone who uses their machine in any sort or business environment. Seems its developers have spent too much time messing about with stupid widgets and have ignored the most important thing with a Linux system: stability.

    Very sad.

  9. I am a Debian user myself. I’ve always had a few issues with Ubuntu, but because I already had a background in Linux (I used Linux on and off since the old Redhat 6.2), I was biased. Ubuntu must be great for new users though it is not typical of Linux distributions in general.

  10. Since a friend told me about the “ionice” utility my Linux experiences have been perfect. I previously remarked on how the CFQ (completely fair queuing) disk scheduler (and others, it seems) meant that starting a new program with a disk-copy still going on in the background would mean they both fought it out such that starting a new program took ages. With ionice I have shoved the Nautilus process back to “best effort” priority and now my disk copies take a back seat if something else is happening. Just the way it should be.

    Of course, I’m also 100% satisfied with Ubuntu and my only complaint now is probably that the back/forward buttons on my mouse don’t do the same in Nautilus (the back/forward buttons on my MS ergo keyboard work, though). But since everything else is just so fine and dandy, I’m not losing any sleep over this trifling issue. Ubuntu is absolute perfection, Windows 7 is a horrible waste of time, and I haven’t even been tempted to check out KDE 4 again.

  11. I’m currently so dissatisfied with the bugs of KDE 4.2.4 (and yes, bugs exist in the 4.2 series as well) but mostly I miss the old apps that made KDE worth using and actually forcing all other KDE software to update to the newer libraries and thus slowing down development overall while reinventing the wheel.

    KDE 3.5.x series was a well tested, thoroughly polished DE with so many applications that made it a rich user experience. KDE 4 lacks a lot of the rich apps like Quanta Plus (PHP+XHTML development environment), Kile (latex editor) and Rosegarden (superb music composer) that really annoyed me intensely. And no running KDE 3.5.x apps on KDE 4 misses some functionality like the old KDE help system. Everything breaks in one way or another.

    Another bug in KDE 4.2.x is the lack of usable desktop icons that actually work: case in point – the device icons can no longer mount/unmount/eject the devices, but instead are a dumb symlink to /media/cdrom or /mnt/cdrom. Also the new file manager is too unstable and crashes frequently.

    I’m forced to go to Gnome, because after all these years, KDE project has dumped a superb and polished, stable desktop and gone the Vista route, promoting eye-candy over usability.

  12. Yep also have pretty much given up on KDE since the release of 4..
    If I wanted a dumbed down no option DE I would go to gnome.. KDE 3.4 onwards was stable fast and exactly what I nedded as a power user. This dolphin file browser is a sack of s$&t and half of the applications seem to have gone back to their infancy. Missing 90% of their features.. I’m sorry but until it is up to the standard that the 3.x series was I’m not using it..

  13. I consider KDE to be dead now on. KDE4 has nothing in common with true KDE and it’s very name is misconception. Sadly Gnome is worser than KDE3 but hopefully influx of new users would speed up Gnome polishing.

  14. I also switched to Gnome. It was a bad idea to kill a good mainstream DE and force users to switch to something at best unusable.

  15. I’m a 57 year-old retired software engineer and have been using Unix systems for over 30 years. I have been a long time fan of KDE and especially Konqueror. KDE4 is truly an amatuerish disaster. Some idiots took a well conceptuallized, integrated system for file management and web browsing and completed whacked it into garbage. Was any of the Redmond crew involved with this? It looks like some Windows 3.1 crap.

    KDE 3 was a quick and sleek gazelle, KDE 4 is a dead dinosaur. I’m switching to Gnome.

  16. KDE4.3 just screwed my computer. It came with a dist-upgrade in debian squeeze even though I didn’t want it. KDE3.5 disappeared so I couldn’t go back to it. I tried to remove 4.3 and now I can’t get on my computer at all. I get a message “No greeter widget plugin loaded. Check the configuration”. I’d love to check, BUT I CAN’T GET ON. I have been using KDE since SuSE 9.0. Loved it, till now. What a mess. And don’t give me this 4.3 onwards is for all users. I know a lot more about this than 5 year olds and grannies and I can’t use my linux box now. Seems to me when someone like Linus says it’s a “disaster” they should listen. Pull it, put 3.xx back out there and hope your user base doesn’t leave.

  17. Glad you got it sorted out. Sucks that KDE is scaring away users with their incompetence to release properly.

  18. Glad to see my comment was able to switch you to the Dark Side :) I’ll try to give you some advice on your problems because i pushed Ubuntu so hard on your last post:

    * Transmission is quite basic. I use Deluge as well and i’m really disappointed that Ubuntu didn’t go with Deluge by default. At least Transmission is better than gnome-bittorrent (the old default) though.
    * It’s quite easy to tell the difference between 32 and 64-bit packages in Synaptic, usually 32-bit packages have either lib32 or bin32 somewhere in the package name and a large number of packages aren’t even available as 32-bit in Ubuntu amd64.
    * As for Nautilus…The great thing about GNOME, is you can replace Nautilus with practically any linux GUI filemanager you want (PCManFM, Thunar, Dolphin, Konqueror) and they’ll pretty much integrate just fine.

  19. KDE 4.1.x was not meant for average joe user, you’d be better with KDE 4.2 or even wait for 4.3 (many people really already like 4.2).

    KDE 4.0.x was for developers that use KDE library for their apps
    KDE 4.1.x was for early adopters and very enthusiastic users
    KDE 4.2.x is for average users
    KDE 4.3.x onwards are for all users, from 5 years old kid to 70 years old granny :D
    The developers of KDE also have some account in this misconception, they didn’t realize that the Linux market has been changed rapidly since they first released KDE 3.0. Now Linux market is no longer dominated by uber geeks that get very excited about new and sophisticated technology… :D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *