Saturday, 2 May 2009

Top 10 KDE4 Applications

Yakuake - Great terminal application
Yakuake is a very popular Quake-style terminal application which sits in the background unless it's invoked with the (default) F12 global shortcut. It can inherit Konsole's settings and it is probably the best alternative to Konsole. Just like Konsole, Yakuake supports full transparency effects, various colour schemes and backgrounds, middle-click paste and tabs. Definitely an essential tool.


Amarok 2 - Probably the most popular Linux audio player (full review here)
Amarok's port to KDE4 was probably one of the most controversial releases in the last few months and it generated many discussions whether Amarok 2 took the right way. My answer: yes. Although Amarok 2 was initially stripped by major features (to mention a few: lack of equalizer, currently poor functionality), but instead it is a new ground for new features. It's true, Amarok 2.0.2 was effectively full of bugs (I'm sure not even the devs can argue against this), but the upcoming 2.1 release includes a new, customisable playlist which should please users which complained about it. Amarok 2 still misses a lot of features, but the good thing is that developers are aware of the needs of users and plan to implement them in future versions. Among the new features this wonderful player comes with are widget support, a completely rebranded playlist and interface (if you ask me, I like how the space is managed in the interface), support for many services like, Magnatune, and several other music stores. Development advances at a fast pace and pretty soon I'm sure Amarok 2 will be what Amarok 1.4 was and even more.

Amarok 2.0.2

K3b - Arguably the best KDE burning application (full review here)
Even if it is currently in alpha, K3b has a port for KDE4 now. No new features available and the interface hasn't changed, but this is the ground for what is to come next. K3b is probably the most powerful and full-featured, open-source CD/DVD burning application on Linux.

K3b 1.65.0 alpha - first KDE4 port

SMPlayer - Full-featured video player using Qt
Now that VLC comes with a Qt interface too, I guess this puts SMPlayer and VLC at the same level, but I opted for SMPlayer because I believe it has a more compact interface and it seems to me to be easier to use.

Although SMPlayer does not actually depend on KDE4 libraries, it's still a Qt 4 application, and one of the most powerful video players out there. Using the mplayer engine, SMPlayer is a very powerful, feature-rich and highly configurable video player, which can play any format around, including DVD ISO images or Matroska MKV videos. One of the great features SMPlayer has for a long time now is the ability to remember all the settings for a specific file (like the time position, video settings, window size and position etc). Very useful when you have to close the player, and then later you have to restart a certain video without the need to scroll to the last position in the video. SMPlayer has an interface which fits well with KDE4 and it allows to configure the shortcuts, it provides icon themes, subtitles support, video functions like rotate video, aspect ratio, or various filters.


digiKam - Photo management application
digiKam is a popular photo management application which constitutes the perfect alternative to the closed-source application from Google, Picasa. Starting with version 0.10 it also has a KDE4 port too. digiKam organises your pictures and photographs into albums and collections and comes with a huge number of options and support for many digital cameras.

digiKam 0.10

Krusader - Powerful file manager
With a funny codename, Krusader 2.0 'Mars Pathfinder' was released on April 11 and it is the first Krusader version for KDE4. Krusader was always the first alternative to Konqueror back in the KDE3 days, and its twin-panel interface and powerful features can please any user looking for an advanced file manager for KDE4.


KTorrent - Full-featured BitTorrent client (full review here)
A while ago I put up a full review of KTorrent for KDE4 here. KTorrent has come a long way and is a completely full-featured BitTorrent client, including various useful plugins, torrent information, rich configuration settings, ability to download only certain files in torrents, possibility to create your own torrents and much more. If you are a KDE user and you didn't give it a try, you surely need to.


Gwenview - image viewer and editor
Gwenview is in a continuous development, with more features and improvements added with every new release. Plans for the upcoming 2.3 release of Gwenview include a redesigned places and history handling, which will now include an 'URL bag' (or 'recent URLs' as it will probably be called), so that whenever you start Gwenview to view an image on the web it will keep the address in the history for fast access afterwards.

Gwenview supports various image formats, has good KDE integration, it comes with a file browser and thumbnail previews. One of the features of Gwenview is the ability to use basic image manipulation plugins, which extend its functionality too.


Kdenlive - wonderful video editor
Linux has several popular video editors praised by some and hailed by others, and those include Kino and Cinelerra. A newer alternative to those is Kdenlive, which in my opinion is just the perfect application for non-linear video editing in KDE. Kdenlive supports various video formats, includes video and audio effects, and it organises your work in projects. You can create, crop, delete and bassically manipulate videos easily in any way possible with the help of this application.


SpeedCrunch - complex calculator
Maybe not an application which can compete with a video player or image management application, a calculator is still an essential tool for any desktop. SpeedCrunch is a complex calculator application built in Qt 4 and which also features a scientific mode.


As you can see, I decided not to include applications which come by default with KDE, so you won't find applications like Kopete or Konsole here. Instead, this is a top of KDE4 applications which I consider most powerful and (probably) essential for any KDE4 user after installing a KDE-based distribution.

Noteworthy applications left out
Unfortunately I couldn't include several good programs either because they are currently in alpha state (due to porting to KDE4 libs) or they don't have a KDE4 version. Included here is Kaffeine, a Xine-based video player which is among the top KDE players, BasKet, an extremely nice notes-taking application and not only: BasKet comes with great features which allow you to build entire projects, not only take notes. KDevelop currently has a beta release of the KDE4 port too, and it is a powerful integrated development environment which allows to program KDE applications. To say nothing about KOffice, for which the first release candidate of version 2.0 was put out just last month. A powerful music editor for Linux is Rosegarden, which is a good KDE replacement for Audacity for example.

Updated: May 3, 2009


Azerthoth said...

Try Dragon Player instead of gmplayer as it is KDE4. More appropriate to have a all KDE apps in a list of best KDE apps dont you think.

Craciun Dan said...

Well I did, but I can't compare Dragon Player with SMPlayer in terms of features. The first one is minimalistic, while the latter is completely full-featured.

nik said...

How can you list Amarok2 as a top 10 app when it doesn't yet have any support for media devices?

Craciun Dan said...

While I agree Amarok 2 still lacks a *lot* of features (media devices support is just one at the bottom of the list IMO), as I said in the article, those features will be implemented in the releases to come. Amarok was and still is the most popular audio player for Linux and not only KDE.

Anonymous said...

Amarok is only "popular" because it is included with most KDE based distros. It "popular" for the same rason that IE is "popular" with windows users. Amarok actually suck, as do any other media palyers that look or work at all like iTunes.

Craciun Dan said...

Well, opinions vary. Just because you think it 'sucks' it doesn't mean Amarok has no fans.

nik said...

But at the moment Amarok 1.4 is more useful than 2.0.

May be 1.4 should be on the list?

davemc said...

No, it should not. Amarok 1.4 uses kde3 libs, and so to use it in kde4 you would have to pull in almost all of kde3. This blog is about kde4 based apps that specifically use only kde4 libs, and so the kde4 port of amarok is entirely justified and completely appropriate. That aside, Amarok 2 is pretty darn good and what it lacks will come with future development. Hey, this is FOSS afterall, if you want some functionality in an app, get involved and make it happen!

Unknown said...


What are you talking about Amarok 2.0.2 does support media devices. it works like a charm with my Zen and my no name usb stick player aswell.

Anonymous said...

Amarok 2.0 works fine with my iPod as well.

I wish something would do a much better job of playlists.

But, for now I can only find that feature in gtkpod.

Vincetastic said...

This is a really great top ten list, Speed Calculator looks like a really cool tool. Anyone can post their own list to our site The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer Qalculate! And I don't need all of the extra baggage of KDE. Having said that, I would not ever do without K3B. It is far and away the best!

United against said...

I agree about the sentiment about Amarok. I to agree that it is only popular as it comes with KDE. I have never liked it and I like the fact that I can use other programs as well. I am now using Audex and like it. I use Banshee to import my music to my iPod as I find it much easier then Amarok. The newest one for KDE 4 is very much lacking and is harder to use but I am sure will get better over time but I was never a fan of it. I may start to use gtkpod instead of Banshee though. I have many toasters from k3b as making music cd's it does a great job but burning iso's it does a poor job at least on my machine. I look forward to that maturing. I am glad to see programs come along for KDE as many that I used to use are either not being updated or taking sweet time to get updated. I am just glad I am not stuck with just what comes with KDE.

United against said...

You mention that you left out some because they were in alpha state or preview release but you included k3b which is in alpha status so obviously you did not follow your advice of not listing these.

Craciun Dan said...

That's a valid point United against. The truth is I tried to make it as much as comprehensive regarding applications one needs. So for example there is no Kaffeine (still in alpha) but there is SMPlayer, there is no KCalc but I included SpeedCrunch, no IDE, but KDE includes Kate (as I mentioned, no default KDE apps included). However, there was little choice instead of a CD burner, but I thought it would be more appropriate to include it just like I included Amarok 2. I doubt a top ten list can be complete for the average user without a cd/dvd burner (which it looks like it has no other competitors, at least on kde).

Anonymous said...

How much simpler than VLC do you have to be?
I teach people three things that covers about 90% of video uses on VLC: Double click for full screen, space bar to pause-play and mouse scroll for sound.
Are we treating everyone like an Apple user now?

KDEnlive is the first usual Linux video editor. The others arent even close. This is light years ahead. You were being kind to the others.

Amarok 1.4 was very popular but many people dont like the full screen Songbird/Itunes look and the amount of people who want a "winamp" style minimalist player has been increasing. I still hold hope that they will add a simple interface option soon.
Until then the Audacious and XMMS clones will continue to do well because sometimes you just want to listen to a song or two.

Anonymous said...

Amarok essentially became an elephant in my systems. I tried to dumb it down, disabling the unwanted options, tried to make it tiny, selected different themes, disabled album artwork, but nothing made Amarok appealing to me. It is such an overachiever that I finally decided it was just too much. QMMP for me. The right size, the right interface, the right app for my AUDIO needs. If you have to have glam and pompousity, Amarok, for certain.