When KDE 4.0 was officially released in January, there were a lot of gaping holes in basic functionality. During the past few months, the codebase has matured considerably, and the environment is steadily approaching the point where it will be sufficiently robust for widespread day-to-day use. Although there are still many features missing, version 4.0.2—which was released last week—offers an improved user experience. We tested KDE 4.0.2 with the recently released Kubuntu 8.04 alpha 6.
KDE 4.0.2 includes a broad assortment of bugfixes and improvements to the KHTML rendering engine, but the most notable improvements are in the Plasma desktop system. Plasma is a vector-based widget system that replaces KDE's conventional desktop and panel. The widgets, which are called plasmoids, can be placed on the desktop or docked in a panel container. In the initial KDE 4.0 release, Plasma was one of the weakest parts of the desktop environment, and it lacked polish and some basic features required by many users. KDE 4.0.2 fixes some of the most serious issues, but Plasma still hasn't achieved feature parity with the KDE 3 components it was designed to replace.