Tag Archives: KlyDE

Jos Poortvliet talks about KlyDE [Interview]

KlyDE, a light weight KDE experience was announced recently, there is a lot to know about this new project. We reached out to Jos Poortvliet, openSUSE community manager and one of the core team members of the  KlyDE project to understand more about this project. Read on…

Muktware: Jos, can you explain what is KlyDE?
Jos: I’d summarize it as ‘a Plasma Desktop with a more conservative standard configuration’.

I use the term conservative both in terms of resource usage and user type. If you want a traditional desktop without search or powerful email & calendar tools and compositing and effects, this is your thing. Of course, omitting these things also saves some resources.

Muktware: When and why was KlyDE conceptualized?
Jos: Will can tell you the story better than I can. But thoughts around a more slim, streamlined KDE based desktop have been going around for years. It’s just that nobody actually sat down and did it…

Muktware: What does the name KlyDE mean?
Jos: We’ll let you guess ;-)

Muktware: What is the focus on KlyDE besides it being light-weight?
Jos: Simple. These don’t have to go together, we know that, but for our purpose, they do. Keep it simple. For power users, a full Plasma Workspace is probably the most efficient and extensible tool there is.  But many people need something simpler, more basic. They currently use XFCE or such but we think KDE can fit them just fine – it only needs a different initial configuration.

Muktware: Why do you think there is a need of ‘light-weight’ KDE (distro)? Is KDE resource hungry?
Jos: Depends on how you look at it. Not really for the given level of functionality although there is of course always room for improvement and in some areas there sure are still some issues. But what if you use a subset of those features? Then you can call it resource hungry for what it offers to _you_. A more reduced feature set with the flexibility to add a few things might then be a better fit. That is what Klyde aims to offer – we won’t hack and slash things out of the default KDE Workspaces and applications, we aim to just offer a more constrained set of defaults.

Of course we hope some of this will benefit upstream. Like the work we did to make a simpler system settings: it would be great if some of the reorganization and cleanup can end upstream. But there still is quite a bit to do, for now we mostly hacked stuff to get it to work as we wanted. The ‘proper’ solution will take longer…

Muktware: What is the target audience of this project?
Jos: As the hackweek page said:

This should be of use in both server environments needing a minimal desktop for sysadmin; for fixed function users using browser based tools, and for knowledge workers/power users that want their own cocktail of mail client/calendar/productivity tools without having the KDE middleware for this function running in parallel.

Muktware: Is KlyDE a KDE distro in it’s own right? If not then what is it?
Jos: It is ‘just’ a different standard configuration on top of openSUSE, for now. We offer a pattern which is much more minimalistic than the default one and we offer a replacement of the openSUSE Branding packages which contain the Klyde-specific configuration settings. But the configuration we did is in a github repo and should not be hard to apply to other distributions…

Muktware: Is KlyDE some kind of KDE ‘fork’ or derivative?
Jos: Nos, it isn’t.

Muktware: What kind of packages will be default in KlyDE, what is the basis of this choice?
Jos: What do you mean? You mean what software the standard pattern ships? Minimal is the keyword. It comes with Dolphin & Konsole and the super basic things like Klipper and such but not much more. The rest you’ll have to pick by yourself… At the moment I include Rekonq on the Studio image but that ain’t part of the pattern and I’m not sure if it should. Browsers are very personal ;-)

Muktware: Can KlyDE work be used by other distros as well?
Jos: At least I have the ambition to have our config files available for other distros, and I know Will wants the patches to go upstream, too. Maybe some of the config work can, in part, go upstream too. The packaging work is of course openSUSE specific.

Muktware: What will be the base of the KlyDE?
Jos: The normal openSUSE KDE packages.

Muktware: What kind of contribution is the openSUSE developers making to the project?
Jos: They do the work ;-)

Muktware: Are you looking for more developers to help the project? If yes how can someone contribute?
Jos: Sure, of course we look for help. We could use both packaging and development. Like the simplification of Systemsettings, there is a need for a real do-over of the way systemsettings works at the moment. This is being discussed but help would be very welcome!

Light weight KlyDE gives Xfce, Gnome some heavy weight competition

KDE community offers one of the the most advanced desktop environments around, Plasma Desktop. But it is not limited to the desktops, KDE has developed technologies for every class of devices, whether it’s PCs, netbooks or tablets. The community develops software packages which are cross platform and are used on different platforms – some of the most notable KDE applications include Calligra suite, DigiKam, K3b and much more.

I run KDE Plasma Workspaces on all my devices – Plasma Desktop on my PCs, Plasma Netbook on my, as obvious, netbooks and laptops and Plasma Active on my Nexus 7. The reason I chose Plasma over others is the features and functionality it offers which are missing from every other desktop environments.

However, I do come across users who don’t want all these features and functionality and instead need a very limited set of applications and features. They find GNOME or Xfce to be the best solution for their needs. Xfce can be increasingly appealing for older and slower hardware (though I am running Plasma on an Atom powered Dell Mini, which is an extremely slow machine, but I see no issues in terms of performance on this device).

That said, there are genuine reasons why some people prefer Gnome or Xfce over Plasma (though a survey shows Plasma to be among the most popular desktop environments, leaving Xfce and Gnome miles behind).

There can be a demand for a stripped down, lightweight distro based on KDE technologies which can compete with the likes of Xfce and Gnome so that such users can get a lightweight Plasma experience without making the compromises (subjective) they have to with Gnome or Xfce.

That’s exactly what some KDE developers are doing. Will Stephenson (along with other KDE developers Klaas Freitag, Jos Poortvliet, Raymond Wooninck, šumski and Andres Silva) is working on a set of packages and defaults called KlyDE, which is based on openSUSE.

The KlyDE project page says:

This is a project to exploit the modularity of KDE to build a lightweight XFCE-class desktop environment, but that can be expanded as needed with additional features back to full KDE weight.

In a nutshell KlyDE offers minimal KDE install so that it is lightweight, yet can be expanded by enabling, installing more features. I must admit that I don’t find KDE technologies to be resource hungry in my own experience but, KlyDE will have significant impact on performance.

 

I’d like to go on record that KlyDE is not a fork of KDE or an ‘Alternative KDE SC’. It’s an alternative to the way most distros present KDE by default. KlyDE is (at heart) the core of the KDE desktop with the basic desktop furniture, and the comfort features/integration with the plumbing of a modern distribution, and whatever else you want beyond that is up to you. Arch and Gentoo KDE users have been doing it this way for years. The work to simplify System Settings and speed-up login will go into mainstream KDE. I was at the Tokamak 6 Plasma meeting last week and was discussing implementation with the System Settings maintainer today. – Will Stephenson on G+

 

In order to achieve this the team is working on three fronts:

  1. Reduced footprint of default desktop by splitting packages and making components optional
  2. Speed up startup time
  3. Simplify configuration by installing a smaller set of configuration modules by default, by installing fewer plugins by default, and by providing simple config UIs for the options used by lightweight desktops.

What’s the base?
KlyDE is using openSUSE as the base, which already offers one of the best KDE integration. According to Jos Poortvliet, “The openSUSE KDE team did a huge effort here, simplifying dependencies so you can have a Plasma Desktop without most applets, Activities, Nepomuk or Akonadi. Of course, that means you give up on good and useful functionality but reality is that we don’t always need everything. This way the functionality is optional and this will hopefully become the default packaging state for openSUSE. What you don’t use will not add menu items, widgets and memory usage to your system.”

As stated above, to keep KlyDE lightweight, “By default, a ‘KlyDE’ desktop comes with none of the above-mentioned things and only a minimum of applications and applets. But upon installation of Activities the widget will be added to your panel and Akonadi will fire up the first time you start up KMail or Akregator!” says Poortvliet.

Testing KlyDE
The team has made available images of KlyDE for testing. You can install it on your PC or run it in a Virtual Machine. I tested it on my Dell XPS M 1330 and I was impressed with how fast it booted and how responsive the entire desktop is. I am already running openSUSE KDE on this machine and it’s equally responsive and fast, but I clearly notice ‘significant’ performance improvement. And here I am highlighting ‘significant’ for a reason. It’s more or less like an Xfce-grade performance with KDE.

How to try
If you want to try Live KlyDE on your hardware, download the iso from this page and use the popular dd command to write it on a USB.

sudo dd if=/path_to_.iso of=/dev/sdX

What’s in the box?
KlyDE comes with basic applications which allows you to start your work as soon as you boot into it. You can install packages as and when you need.

Configure Desktop shows how trimmed down is KlyDE – it gives you most of what one needs keeping out more advanced features.

Since KlyDE is in ‘lab’ stage at the moment, I don’t want to talk about what comes pre-installed. However, I don’t understand why it comes with two web browsers Konqurer and Rekonk (one is enough, though either browsers were not rendering Muktware very well).

If KlyDE is competing with Xfce, it should come with some needed applications so that a user can get an out-of-the-box working experience. The question is which applications should com pre-installed. I think a basic set of media players (for audio video), a browser, a text-editor, a light weight word processor, some image viewing and editing app will be good enough for a regular PC usage.

It will be interesting to see which applications will the developers choose to pre-install on KlyDE, I am sure they are looking for user-feed back and if you want an Xfce grade KDE experience tell us what kind of applications and features you want with KlyDE.

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Benefits of openSUSE base
openSUSE has a huge repository of applications so, KlyDE users will be able to install any app they need. If a user needs the 3rd party apps then software.opensuse.org offers a better experience than Ubuntu’s PPAs, in my opinion.

Though I refrain from recommending any OS over other (use what works for you), I do believe KlyDE can be a ‘heavy weight’ competitor to Xfce and Gnome. If you are a KDE (desktop) user and want something lightweight, give KlyDE a try and help developers in making it better.

A Lightweight KDE desktop on the way

KDE is an extensive desktop environment which features a large number of applications, widgets and components. It’s not bloated by default, but most distributions ship extra features and apps in KDE that are not needed by most of the users. KDE developer Will Stephenson has recognized this shortcoming, and is currently developing a slimmed down version of KDE, codenamed KlyDE, or K Lightweight Desktop Environment.

Stephenson plans to develop a minimalist and modular version of KDE, which will allow users to install just what they need. The first approach they have taken is to redefine the packaging of apps. Unlike the main KDE Desktop, KlyDE has modular packages for Nepomuk and Akonadi which are not installed by default, but can be installed by user when he needs them. Both these packages were criticized for using extensive system resources, thus making the desktop slower and unstable. Removing them will make KDE to boot faster and the desktop more responsive.

KDE desktop is hell configurable and its system settings has everything you need to customize the desktop to your liking. But this scares away some of the users who give up searching for the setting they want in the flood. Taking the hint, the developers are planning to hide less used settings from the main view, so as to make configuring KDE simpler and beginner friendly.

You can read the development updates of KlyDE in Will Stephenson’s blog.