For those of you who can’t wait to get your hands on the upcoming release, 4.2, which is due to hit in January of next year, the first beta has just been released, and Project Neon has a repository set up to provide nightly builds of the new version! To use it with Ubuntu 8.10, add the following line to your software sources:
http://ppa.launchpad.net/project-neon/ubuntu intrepid main
Afterwards, open up your terminal and enter:
sudo aptitude install kde-nightly
And log out and in again, selecting KDE Nightly Neon as your session.
You don’t need to worry about this install overriding your current KDE installation, if you have one; the Neon builds install alongside any other DE and will appear separate from your other KDE installations.
If you wish to remove the Neon builds, simply open up a terminal and enter:
sudo aptitude remove kde-nightly
The Project Neon repository also includes the newest builds of the upcoming Amarok 2.0! You can install it via this command:
sudo apt-get install amarok-nightly
Now that we’re done installing, we can take a look at some of the main improvements since KDE 4.1:
Kwin, the compositing window manager, has seen a few decent improvements; among them are new desktop effects, and quite a few bug fixes (KDE was hanging for me personally when I turned on desktop effects sometimes; no longer the case), and the visual aspect of the effects has been tweaked in quite a few places. Selected windows now give off a soft blue glow while deselected windows sport a drop shadow. Also new is the obligatory Genie effect, and the Present effect, akin to Mac OS X’s Expose effect.
The Oxygen Plasma theme and taskbar have also been cleaned up quite a lot since 4.1, and the overall effect is far more pleasing. The Kickoff menu has also seen improvements in its presentation, now feeling a bit snappier, and widgets can now be rotated (though I cannot imagine this feature having any use apart from cosmetic purposes). Also new is the ability to add Google Gadgets as widgets and integrate them seamlessly alongside the regular ones.
Dolphin, the file manager for KDE 4, has also seen a few little improvements too; most noticeably among them being the slider to smoothly increase or decrease the size of the icons in folders.
While this all sounds fantastic, keep in mind that this new version is still very much a work-in-progress, and may be prone to random breakage; the Plasma workspace has still been crashing regularly for me, desktop effects are still a little buggy and sluggish, and a few other niggles which prevent me personally from choosing the new KDE series over the proven stability of the Gnome desktop. However, it’s great for a casual tinker and for those who like to live on the bleeding edge. Have fun!