KDE: Right Click, Extract Here

I’ve been hunting for a post on how to have KDE “extract here” like Foresight Gnome edition does (it’s really handy to one click extract archives). Post after post found via Google did nothing at all to help me out. Most tried to have you read how to do this manually by creating your own service menu and they would use xterm to extract. I wanted to use ark…mainly because it’s there and it’s a gui.

Then I decided to search KDE-Apps.org and viola! I found it. A handy little tool that allows you to right click on any archive and “extract here” with Ark. Here’s how to install it.

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Foresight KDE Alpha-Alpha-Pre-Alpha-Pre Screenshot

Is that Foresight Linux running a pre-pre-pre-alpha-alpha-alpha build of KDE 3.5.9 I see? 😉

Those of you interested in helping us develop, package, or use KDE are welcome to join us in IRC #foresight-kde freenode.  Plans are to build a 3.5.9 Stable version and wait until 4.1 is released to push out a 4.1 version.  Of course, we’ll have 4.0.X builds available for testing and fun all the while 🙂  Please, lend us a hand and file those bug reports!

Foresight KDE Alpha3

NOTE: For clarification purposes…this is not an official release. It is only accessible to developers. It is called Foresight KDE Alpha3 because it is based on the underlying architecture in Foresight Gnome alpha3 release.

For those of you with developer status or above on the Foresight Linux project, there is a KDE build available for testing (along with XFCE if you really have ambitions). Login to rBuilder Online, Click on the Foresight Linux Project, go to Manage Builds and search for Foresight Linux KDE Alpha3 and click it (DVD only). I downloaded and tested this build release to see how things are going.

Foresight KDE inherits all the goodness from the Foresight Linux project. This means the install is tar based and completes in less than 7 minutes. It also means Syslinux, Compiz Fusion, and more from the Release Notes. If you are interested in helping us develop further, please visit us in freenode #foresight-kde.


I found 3 major issues during testing. First, updateall fails with glibc errors. I worked over 6 hours on getting a solution and enlisted many in the community on helping me get past it. So far, no one has been able to provide a solution. The second issue is that pango is causing odd text to display on various applications: Pic1, Pic2. No solution to this as of the time of this writing. I’m assuming that an update to pango will cure this.

Third, gtk-qt-engine wasn’t installed by default so gtk applications looked quite nasty. A quick sudo conary update gtk-qt-engine got me rolling.


Things don’t look great. While the performance of the desktop was fine (no crashes, quite speedy) the default font/text looks horrible. The installed Theme is the default KDE one…no customization. My resolution/Monitor wasn’t detected so I was at 800×600 for resolution. Menu’s are chock full of junk (default applications) and have little organization.

Looking at this, one can tell it truly is based on an alpha release but I have to say that I’m still a bit disappointed. All of these observations were made during the last alpha release as well. At the time of that alpha release, I did not have enough Conary-foo™ (OK, so it’s not trademarked…) to make anything happen. Since I now have alpha3 up and running on my main system at home and am a bit further in my conary knowledge…you can bet I’ll be working on the aesthetics of Foresight KDE. Sure, the innards are more important than the shell…but the shell is the first thing seen by the user.

Hopefully, if there is an alpha4 (or beta1 for that matter) we’ll have the aesthetics worked out by then to give the user a pleasant “Foresight” experience.

KDE4 Status

KDE4 can be installed as well. It is still pulling in from SVN snapshots though so it is not as stable as I’d like it to be. Do this at your own risk! I do not have it permanently installed on my system. To install:

sudo conary update group-kde4=/kde.rpath.org@fl:2-kde4-devel

One of the benefits of conary is show above…installing KDE4 is as simple as one command 🙂 I like to compare that with the Ubuntu/Debian way of doing it. Since there is no sources.list, you don’t have to mess with it. Conary remembers the branch the software came from inherently so it goes to those same places for that software unless you tell it not too explicitly. Imagine that! A package manager that is smart and allows you to maintain less! It also allows you to have both KDE3 and KDE4 installed side by side…but remember, both KDE4 and this build release of Foresight KDE are not production releases so things WILL change. In other words, don’t put this on a system you intend to keep.

It is my understanding that the KDE4 branch for Foresight KDE will soon be reverting out of SVN checkout builds to push stability as application portage continues.

Empowering the Linux Community

From a Linux Developer point of view, when users are no longer developing with you…you’ve lost. Empowerment is key to a successful community in Linux. The day the community is no longer empowered to improve is the day the distribution dies. What kills empowerment? Helplessness. Despair. Inability.

As an example, a user might not like it if you tell them their bug will not be fixed for the next release. This is normal practice in many major distributions. But if you tell a user that their bug won’t be fixed through 4 releases, you may have a problem. Unfortunately, this also is becoming a normal practice for some major distributions.

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Thoughts on Package Management

The Change in Distro-Land

Distros have changed. In the past, they were made up of a small, tightly knit group collaborators working toward a common goal. With distributions today we now have an informal, large group of collaborators…some of which may not even be aware of the main goal of the distro. That informal collaborator may just want package foo version 2.2 included in his/her distribution so that he/she can use it on their desktop. How does that informal collaborator become empowered? How can the developers reap what that collaborator sows and harness the collective collaboration of thousands of informal contributors? The answer for many software projects is version control. But how can this system benefit package management?

What If?

What if you could combine SVN/CVS/git behavior and packages? What if when you build the package properly, it is checked into the software development tree. You’d be eliminating an entire step in the process (i.e. working more efficiently) and you’d reap all the benefits of version control (diff, merge, shadow, exports, rollbacks, tags, logs) with the actual software packages without losing the benefit of working with source or binaries. Thousands of contributions could be made in the form of ready to install packages that are CERTIFIED (see how this is possible later in this post) to work on the distribution. The contributions would come in on a version control branch designed by the distribution developers…say 1-contribs (much like a contribs rpm server would be)…but unlike most distributions, they would be certified to run on your distro before they even hit the contribs server/branch. Imagine the impact that this would have for bug testing alone.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s Conary and it is getting ready to go to version 2.0. Let’s take a look at some advantages that conary has over traditional package management and how it can empower the end user.

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KDE and Xorg, Fonts and DPI

Today, I’d like to share a tip I found out while working with a beta release for a distirbution of Linux with KDE’s 3.5.7 version. As many readers of this blog know, I use PCLinuxOS 2007 as my main desktop and have done so since about 2005. The font configuration in PCLinuxOS is quite nice. I have a 19 inch LCD Monitor at home with 1280×1024 resolution. I notice no problems with the font on that monitor.

Working on a separate 20 inch monitor with a distribution in development however is another story. The fonts didn’t look beautiful at all. After some installation of custom fonts, things looked better, but the resolution is a bit higher on this LCD at 1400×1050. Easy to fix right? Just increase the DPI in the KDE Control Center to 120 right? Not so fast…even when it’s set to 96×96 there, it isn’t always set to 96×96. So let’s take a look at how you can force KDE to run at the correct DPI for your monitor which will, in turn, make your fonts look MUCH better. For those of you who are satisfied with your fonts, you might want to check out the commands below to see if you’re running at the DPI you think you are.

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