KDE and the apps that keep the dragon hot

People often question why i use Linux as a primary OS at home. In fact it is the only OS i use at home, although i have a Windows XP CD somewhere. Other than the obvious security features, and stability to the core, there are certain apps which i class as my killer apps. These are mostly productivity apps, and they are all from KDE. I'm referring specifically to the KDE 4 versions of these apps, but the KDE 3.5x versions are really great too, and would still be in my killer app list.
  1. YaKuake: It's a Quake style drop down console. It has multiple tabs and a global shortcut key. It can basically do anything that Konsole can do, except that its always there and out of the way. Althought i am comfortable with the console, it isn't my primary means of working in Linux. I prefer graphical config tools, and only use the console when i must. And because of that, i need something that's accessible when i want it. I don't want a console that's always open ( i'm really fussy about the number of obsolete windows i keep open ). Now i just hit F12 and i have my last console session i was working on, and when that window loses focus, its gone till i need it again. It's a huge up for my programming productivity and hence one of the first things i install.
  2. Amarok: It's a music manager. And player. And streamer. And last.fm client. And mp3 player manager. And music store/discovery portal. It's pretty much everything you want for your music. At work ( Mac and Windows ) i use Songbird, which is good. And i feel Songbird is what iTunes tries to be. In the same way, i feel Amarok is what Songbird tries to be. It's got every feature from every music play you want, yet somehow the interface isn't cluttered at all. I installed the latest Amarok 2.0 beta recently and was amazed. Instant access to Shoutcast streams, LibriVox audio books and a few online music stores. The library management is amazing, and the smart playlists are awesome. Amarok is basically the Holy Grail of music apps.
  3. Kate: It's a text editor that wants to be an IDE. Being a simple text editor it's really fast. Quick start up time and low memory usage are not things you normally associate with syntax highlighting, session management, code folding, spellcheck and code completion. Give it a debugger and compiler and you have a decent IDE. Maybe i shouldn't say that too loud, the developers might get ideas. But seriously, it is powerful. Any HTML work myself or my wife does is in Kate. If i'm not actually doing serious code, but just want to view some source files, Kate is what i use. Sometimes i launch it as root to edit xorg.conf, and since Kate has highlight modes for x.org configs, WINE configs, .desktop files and all sorts of other Linux system files, doing stuff like this is much easier than my other alternative, VI. And on that note... Kate also has a VI input mode. As with Amarok, these interface designers are amazing, since it still seems as slimmed down as MousePad.
  4. GwenView: I normally don't care much for image viewers. Generally, if i can see the thumbnail in my file manager ( coming up next ;) thats ok. In the KDE 4.1 release i noticed a new image viewer, and from the start it impressed me. It doesn't take an hour to load like a lot of more complicated image viewers. In fact its pretty fast, again like Kate. Most of my usage of an app like this is to view the pictures i copy off my ( really useless ) phone. As you would expect from an average image viewer, you can rotate the pictures you're viewing. But this also has a pile more features. There is an entire plugin framework allowing for complicated effects to be applied in the same way Picasa might. But without the memory overhead and long startup. It also has some of the new KDE 4 nepomuk semantic desktop features, where you rate images. And yet still with a simple interface reminiscent of the clean feel of the old ACDSee 3.0 series. This theme of simple yet power seems to carry through, and the last item on my list is far from an exception...
  5. Dolphin: I couldn't give a grand enough introduction for this app. This is Finder + Explorer + Konqueror + Nautilus + Every good feature of every file manager i have every used. It can do Konqueror, Icons View + Tabs. It can do the bread crumbs we're used to from Nautilus and Finder. It does the columns view that Finder has, but it does it better. It's fast, intuitive, sleek and flexible. It's pretty much the ultimate file manager. I've heard Gnome advocates wow at it. Dolphin is what every filemanager should follow. Bread crumbs and KIO Slaves is an amazingly powerful combination. And what better place for such a well polished, feature packed tool than as the core file manager of your system. It's one of the things that made KDE 4.0 feel finished even though the desktop was still buggy. If i had to name any, i would say this is an app which defines what to expect from KDE 4. Speed, power, features and a great interface.
All of these apps have become killer apps for me. If i need to work on a different platform, all of them are sorely missed. A lot of people like to say that Linux will always lag behind, always play catch up, and open source projects discourage innovation. The entire KDE 4 project goes in the face of this sentiment. There is more innovation in any one of these 5 apps than there are in most multi-million dollar closed application suites. The time of open source clones left with single colored title bars, it's time for the big corporates to start cloning the open source projects.


  1. I agree very much, even if I don't use YaKuake very much myself.
    I usually have a few Konsoles opened in the background :)

  2. I could add Konsole and Kontact to the list.

  3. @ softly.lt.. i don't normally use offline mail at home ( at work i'm forced to use outlook and that apple default mail client ), since gmail is mostly what i use. So as much as Kontact is great, its not on my killer app list. As for Konsole, the point was that YaKuake is Konsole and more. And although console is great, YaKuake is better.

  4. I used Konsole but now I'm a little friendlier to Xfce's Terminal.

    I use Xfce4 on my Gentoo machine now days. Kde is awesome but it offers extra customization that I don't really need. I like to focus more on the applications I'm using instead of the desktop. Xfce works really smooth on my workstation and it's great for a work environment.

    I think it's awesome that people can use whatever desktop environment they want. From Gentoo to Puppy Linux you have an endless amount of possibilities. The beauty of Linux is that it respects the choice of the user. It creates an environment great for users and developers to grow where they never could before, using Windows.

    Linux is more than just a small OS. It opens your eyes to the potential of computers. The question with Linux is not "can I do it?" but rather, "How do I do it?"