Saturday, October 18, 2008

On using Konqueror as my daily browser, and bookmark woes

Recently I decided to use only konqueror as my daily browser on one of my machines.

I've been a KDE user for 5 years or so now, and I've used konqueror for the occasional page, but firefox has always been my main browser.


It's a well known fact that KHTML has some shortcomings in rendering some popular ajax-y, web2.0-y pages. That affected me, as a gmail user, and also a (my)foxmarks user, because I use those two sites daily.

I know this is a sensitive issue, and as a developer myself, I can fully understand the problem from the developers side, but putting my user hat on, webkit handles both sites well, and I wish it was more integrated with konqueror (thru webkitpart), so I could use it fulltime (currently it has no support for kwallet, and also widgets on the page look strange).


Now what really really really sucks is the bookmark system:
- You can't move bookmarks on the bookmarks bar.
- Ellipsis for big names are not shown (but names are shortened), so sometimes if you have a site called "I use konqueror I try each day to love it and I do not absolutely hate it" for me I get a button called "I use konqueror I absolutely hate it".
- Maximum bookmarks bar button size is too big, which especially affects the next bullet.
- Items are added to the toolbar by default when you do Bookmarks > Add Bookmark, with no other possible choices. Combine this with not being able to move them and sites having big names, and you have absolute disaster: any user who likes his bookmarks organized is going to have to open the bookmark editor to move or rename a bookmark *very often*.
- When you drag from the address bar, the bookmark is named after the site url, not after the site's title.
- When clicking on a bookmarks folder, either on the bar or on the menu, the folder contents are shown, but also at the bottom are the same four options that are shown when you right-click, and I don't think most users use those options that often, so at least some of them could be removed from this menu.
- If you have multiple folders on your bookmarks bar, you can't click on one, and move you mouse to the next one on the bar (like menu bars behave). You have to click on each one you want to open.
- If you open the bookmarks menu, if you right click on a folder you get a context menu allowing you to delete it, but if you hover on the folder first, and the submenu with the subitems is shown, and then right-click, nothing will happen.
- (Very very minor: & on a site name will be interpreted as an accelerator).

The bookmarks editor ( keditbookmarks) also has many problems. Unfortunately, it is very easy to crash it. But even forgetting that, using it is very hard:
- By default bookmarks are *copied* when you drag and drop them. Only today I learned that by holding down shift they are moved. I can't think of many reasons for copying to be the default behavior. Does anyone out there like to copy bookmarks (and have duplicate bookmarks), instead of moving them?
- It is very hard to place items in some important places like the beginning and end of the list, and at the end of a folder.

A positive point: I love how when you do a search on keditbookmarks, it doesn't hide the parent folders of the matching items, so if I search for "xpto" and it is inside the folder "crap", the search will show the folder crap and the xpto entry inside, which is a thing I always hated firefox for not doing (sometimes I want to know *where* I left a bookmark so I can navigate directly to it next time).

I file lots of bugs on (and also occasionally contribute patches), but where to begin with all these issues? I don't really know. I guess that's why I decided to post this entry.

As you can see I'm a big bookmarks user, so I hate to have all this struggle to use them on konqueror.

Finally, I'm a big KDE user, fan, and occasional contributor.
I use it every single day, and love doing it. So I hope this isn't taken as a troll.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cool Visual Effects on Linux without 3D Support

Recently I discovered that with the Kwin window manager on KDE 4.1 (and 4.0) you can have many of the cool special effects people love without any special driver or hardware support, using XRENDER instead of OpenGL for compositing (see last picture).

These screenshots are from my old laptop, with a 500Mhz cpu and a Trident Cyber 9525 with an amazing 2.5mb video ram, and of course no 3d support.

Also, it works with Virtual Machines too! I can get cool effects using just the vesa driver on VirtualBox.

Screenshots taken with KDE 4.1 Beta 1 on Kubuntu.

You can also have shadows, that were fixed to work with XRENDER after beta 1 (so I don't have them on my laptop yet).

Most effects are completely usable, consuming of course some cpu, but as they are one-time (animations, alt+tab, etc) don't have that much impact. Semi-transparent windows of course take their toll (especially when dragging them), but if you have a decent cpu, it can probably handle it fine.

Thanks to the kwin folks, your rock!