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What's New in KDE 4.2?

written by: •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 2/25/2009

KDE 4.2 sports a new look and many new useful features which more than make up for the buggy KDE 4.0 release. Here's a detailed look at what's new in KDE 4.2.

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    When KDE 4.0 was released it was subjected to a lot of criticism and negative reviews for being too buggy and for the lack of any real improvement to show over its predecessors. With the release of KDE 4.2 those criticism seems to be answered and KDE 4.2 seems to be worthy of an upgrade from your previous KDE releases. KDE 4.2 fixes numerous bugs that haunted it in the previous release and brings in new features in a power packed package. So, what are the new features in KDE 4.2; what should you be expecting to see? Here’s a run up on it.

    The first thing you probably will notice on a KDE desktop is what KDE calls 'FolderView' (a mini desktop customized with your files, folders, icons). However it is also possible to have a traditional desktop with icons, if you're used to it.

    In KDE 4.2 the desktop has gotten many face-lifts and new functionalities which primarily focus on usability. New features introduced with KDE 4.0, like Plasma, Plasmoids etc., have been improved and tweaked to make it better. Consider this, now desktop widgets can be written in Python or Ruby. It also comes with a lot of new Plasmoids (weather applet, system monitor, file previewer, newsfeeds etc., for example.). The plasma applets can also be used even when a screensaver is on. The panel also hosts a lot of new features and enhancements. The notifications are displayed in a different way than the unfashionable gray boxes it used to display in the older versions. More control options are added to the panel settings for better customization of the panel. The task manager also gets some new features like grouping of applications, stacking applications in as many rows you want etc.. The system tray also tracks tasks running for a longer period, such as downloads. And the auto-hide feature is back. You can also configure the hide icon feature in the system tray per your own choice.

    PowerDevil, KDE's power management tool, brings modern power management to KDE for laptops and mobile devices. It can be configured directly from the system settings.

    KWin, the window manager, also has some neat improvements with new desktop effects (‘Cube’ and ‘Magic Lamp’). It enables desktop effects only on a computer which is able to support them. You can also configure different effects.

    In KDE 4.2, KRunner gets some new features and power. With KRunner you are now able to manage Kate, Konqueror sessions, perform spell check, access the power management tools, etc.. You can also make use of either its command interface or the task-oriented interface.

    Along with the many improvements and new features in the desktop and panel, the KDE applications also have improvements worth talking about. Konqueror, for example, now has a built in ad-blocker, is faster and handles pages with a lot of JavaScript much better than it used to. Konqueror now has better support for SVG (scalable vector graphics). The new Firefox like find dialog sits at the bottom of the screen, which makes it less intrusive.

    Dolphin, the file manager for KDE, has got its share of enhancement too with KDE 4.2. It opens folders and tabs automatically when you drag a file over them; the breadcrumb bar allows for easier navigation. The user interface is tweaked to provide more information in an unobtrusive way. It has an easily accessible button in the toolbar to turn previews on or off instantly and can show previews in tool tips.

    Ark, the archiving tool for KDE, is now faster and has added a few new features. Dolphin and Konqueror now display related menu items when an archive is selected.

    KMail has put on speed by improving support for IMAP and other protocols. The email list views have been revamped for improved usability and visual appeal.

    Kate (KDE advanced text editor) has a VI input mode which will be available to all applications using the Kate text component, as this feature is built right into the KDE development platform. Kate sessions can now be managed from within Plasma in various ways, like using a widget, desktop, panel or even from KRunner.

    KRDC (KDE Remote Desktop Client) now features improved support for LDAP and Microsoft's Active Directory.

    Gwenview (KDE image viewer) sports a new red eye reduction filter and supports animated graphics. It also allows you to tag your files or to rate them.

    KDE 4.2 more than makes up for the blunder (if you would like to put it that way!) it made with KDE 4.0 and makes it worth an upgrade. For more details on the KDE 4.2 you can visit the official KDE site.