I know, I told everybody it was going to be Amarok 2.0, but since I just got my computer, I barely have music. The final version isn't far away, so I'll wait until then.

And since what you care about is eye candy... :P

Kwin (with Composite)

KDE 3.5.x had an option for enabling composite called kcompmgr (which was a modified version of xcompmgr), it had basic functionality like transparency and fading, but nothing else, and it wasn't exactly fast.

Then Compiz came, originally designed by Novell along with XGL, but, even if it can be used with KDE, it obviously was designed with GNOME in mind.

The KDE developers wanted eye-candy composite for they KDE 4 series, so they had 3 options, writing a whole new window manager, use compiz or improving kwin, they took the last one.

That way KDE didn't lose any advance window management feature and won 3D window management full of eye candy and some useful features :)

Present Windows

Lets star by one of the useful plugins, originally designed by apple, it has 3 pesent modes:

Natural, it tries to preserve the size relationship between the different windows:

Regular Grid:

Flexible grid:

Desktop Grid

For presenting all the workspaces in a grid in order to make arrangement of windows easier:

The Legendary Cube

Compiz became famous with this, I don't think it's exactly useful per se, but it makes easier for newbies to understand the concept of virtual desktops (tough it don't truly work that way XD), the point is that it looks good, and mixed with the desktop grid can be useful:

Switchs (Alt + Tab)

Kwin has 4 different options for switching between windows, that said, you can assign key strokes for each one, so if you desire it, you can use all of them

Box switch, the most common way of rolling trough windows:

Flip switch, like in Windows Vista whit Aero enabled:

Cover switch, similar to coverflow, but with windows:

And, my favorite, present windows, like exposé, but using alt-tab:

The Legendary Wobbly Windows

Completely useless, but most people seem to love the effect, I personally dislike it:

Taskbar Thumbnails

On hover shows a miniature of the window:


I found shadows to be one of the most useful effects, and it looks good too, as you will see in the following screenshot, the focus window has a different shadow, a pretty nice looking blue shadow:

Dialog Parent

This plugin dims the window which has an open dialog, quite nice looking, and it can be useful:

Dim Inactive

Dim Screen for Administrator mode


Obviously is for zooming into your desktop, quite good for people with vision problems:


Zoom with a magnifier, it's less intrusive than zoom, because you can still look at your full desktop, as zoom, it's designed for people with vision problems:

Track mouse

Can't you find the pointer? No problem, press ctrl + meta (windows key), I'm sure you'll find those XD

Fall apart

When you close a window it explodes, personally I find this effect to be ugly, and annoying too, but for those who may like it here the mandatory screenshot:


There are several animation which I can't show in screenshots, since my graphic card won't resist recording such a thing XD, so I'll just mention them:
  • Slide: Animate the change between desktops.
  • Minimize animation: Animate the minimizing of windows.
  • Scale in: Animate the appearing windows
  • Login: Smoothly fade to the desktop when logging in
  • Logout: Desaturate the desktop when displaying the logout dialog
  • Plasma transparency (dialogs, panels, dashboard, plasmoids) when Kwin 3D effects are on

Configuration Dialogs

As you will see, it's quite simple and straight forward, however, if you pay attention to one of the screenshots (which in fact isn't a kwin configuration dialog) you'll see what I forgot to show in the Plasma article.

Coming up Next: Krunner
Stay Tuned

Dolphin article has been updated with new features from KDE 4.1.72 (4.2)

I'm back

Yes, I know, 11 months it's quite some time, but my computer died, I swear it!.

*The Plasma version used for this overview is 4.1.72 (4.2)*


In KDE 3.5.x we had kicker, but for KDE 4, it has been killed and replaced by the most famous part of the KDE technologies, known as Plasma.

Before introducing some of it's features, I will explain what Plasma is, fast, without entering in detail.

Plasma is, among other things, the new way of building your desktop, it works using Plasmoids, those Plasmoids are similar to Gadgets or Widgets. Plasmoids are contained by... well... containments, this relantionship it's the secret of its flexibility. The Desktop (image background) is a containment, you can put as many plasmoids as you want, those can create a normal interface showing your /desktop files, or you can put clocks, stocks viewers, media controls, pictures, etc. However, the panel is a cointenment too, you can place your Plasmoids in your desktop or in the panel, Plasmoids will change their layout to match correctly their new containment.

The biggest point here, is that cointenments are Plasmoids too, so, in the future, people (or KDE developers themself) can (and certainly will) create new containments, of all kinds. Making a OS X dock or a Windows 7 like taskbar shouldn't be that hard.

The desktop

Having said that, lets go to what you're really interested in, pretty screenshots!:

This is my current desktop (yes, it's gorgeous), it's pretty clean and simple, however, there are several Plasmoid running there, clock (2 actually), weather, command line, folder view, menu, pager, windows list, device notifier, systray and those are pretty much all :)

But if you want a completely different desktop layout you can have it without any problem, go to the corner, click and select:

Then, do the impossible, drag and drop :)

You could end with completely different interfaces:

But, Do you remember what I said at the beginning? The desktop is a plasmoid containment, so, why can't I have two desktop containments? Ehm, you can!

Click and zoom out:

Then add as many as you want ;)


As you could see in those last 2 screenshots, Plasmoids are resizable and you can rotate them too, as well as configuring and removing them, how to? Easy, just hover while the plasmoids are unlocked:

And then, make some clicks and mouse movements, extremely easy, and since everything is svg, don't worry about getting pixelated plasmoids ;)

KDE has a beautiful dashboard too:

Plasma is also 100% themeable, and there are all of kind of themes, it will be pointless to post all of them, but you can find them here.

And that isn't all, Plasma is compatible with many OS X dashboard and Google Gadgets, the last one is quite new, so I don't have it on my system, but here you can see how you can add Dashboard widgets:

Plasma customization options

Do you like my theme? Well, there's the new "Get Hot New Stuff" (basely everywhere around KDE):

And you can mix different plasma themes to match your taste :)

The Panel

This is the new shiny kicker (which is obviously a Plasmoid containment)

It was criticized at the beginning of KDE 4 series that you couldn't even resize it, now it has a pretty straight forward way of doing it, mixed with some extra option related with size and position, as you would note the icon plasma configuration button is in the panel too, this is only visible when plasmoids are unlocked :

Then you have other requested features, special mention to autohide:

The best part is that now you can drag and drop plasmoids between the panel and the desktop, and they will take their right form an size, and, as you can see, its using true transparency.


The controversial default menu of KDE 4 series, I personally like it, for those who don't, the classic menu is still there. Let's see how it looks:

As you can see it shares the plasma theme, in the past, it looked like a Windows, quite out of place, and it's fully resizeable now

You have 5 self-explanatory tabs, they can switch on hover (my prefer mode) or on click:

Beyond the Desktop

But plasma is extensible, now it displays notifications, no more uggly KDE 3.5.x pop-ups, yeah!:

Tooltips are also gorgeous, by the way, if you're wondering, the theme I use is called Arezzo (but the following tooltip is from Elegance):


Fully plasma themed of course, it runs inside it own process, outside of plasma, so if plasma crashes you can still run commands, or bring plasma back itself. It has two view modes:

Task oriented (quicksand)

Command oriented

I personally prefer the default one (command oriented), both of them extend depending on the content, it integrates, for example, seamless with nepomuk (description you add to your files trough dolphin)

Krunner is extremely powerful, I will give its own overview, stay tuned.

That's all I can think off today, that said,there are, in my personal opinion, two Plasmoids which worth their own part.

1... no wait, 2 more things

Web Browser Plasmoid

It use webkit as a backend, it isn't the fastest web browser ever, but it's quite good anyway, you can zoom in/out text, reload, go back and forward.

It even has bookmarks:

Previewer Plasmoid

You can add it to your desktop and then drop files in order to preview them, as you can see, you can browse recent previewed files:

However, the best part is that is integrated in the file manager as an action (as somebody mentioned it was too time consuming to get to the action, let me add that it has its own keystroke: ctrl + delete, and you can customize it, I use a 2 spaces keystroke):

And then you get this, it's extremely fast and good looking:

See you later in the next issue, I swear you it will be in less than 1 year :)

Coming up next: Amarok 2
Stay Tuned