DesktopBSD Day 2 – First impressions
The first day was easy enough and today it is time to wander around a bit on the new default desktop. How is the look-and-feel? What applications are installed by default? How useful is it out of the box concerning music and videofiles?
The KDE desktop
Like PC-BSD DesktopBSD comes with a KDE desktop. I have seen some fine KDE desktops (like SabayonLinux) and some horrible (but let’s not go there). Of course it is very simple to change the theme and other stuff, but first impressions are important to convince potential users.
DesktopBSD is delivering quality here. Some might be able to find fault with the default icon set, which is more than reminiscent of the Mac OS X and Microsoft Vista icon sets (thanks to the NuoveXT set), but overall it has an air of style, of stability. The desktop could have been somewhat cleaner, but having the various shortcuts to the network, to the documentation, the home folder, the systems menu and to software management at hand is actually a good thing for novice users.
The icon â€œDocumentationâ€ launches Firefox and brings you to the DesktopBSD wiki page. The icon â€œGetting startedâ€ brings you the default page for Konquerer with the various shortcuts. I must confess I have never thought about using Konquerer in this way, as a gateway to various functions, but why not. The â€œSystemâ€ icon also launches Konquerer and then gives access to the various storage locations. Personally I don’t think this adds anything to â€œGetting startedâ€ and I would have preferred this to be a shortcut to the KDE Control Center. And last, but not least, â€œSoftwareâ€ which opens the DesktopBSD tools.
To the bottom of the screen you find the KDE panel with the menubutton and icons for the desktop, the home folder, Konquerer and the help function. More to the right you will find Klipper (clipboard tool) and the network-, sound- and partition/devices managers.
The applications menu is an odd mix. First, the menu tree has a clean look and feel with mostly logical categories like Graphics, Internet, Multimedia and Office. On the down side you find a systems menu, a utilities menu, a settings menu, another settings menu and a system menu apart from an entry called control center.
When it comes to the installed applications again you find the odd mix. In the Graphics department there is a nice collection of smaller programs to get you started, though nothing serious enough to start working on you photo collection. The Multimedia section has various mediaplayers (Amarok, NoAtun and KsCD) and very good videoplayer (VLC). K3b is there as it well should be.
DesktopBSD is pretty complete for internet use. Firefox and Thunderbird are installed. Konversation is the IRC client with Pidgin for MSN-like activities. KGet and KTorrent should be enough to get you started with all your downloading activities.
But, and I do consider this a major but, the Office section is empty. Apart from Mozilla Calendar there is nothing. No OpenOffice.org or KOffice. No Evolution of KOrganizer. Maybe this was due to size limitations for the ISO file, but there are plenty of other live cd’s that come with an office suite and a personal information manager. I can only consider this as disappointing. One might argue that new software is easy enough to install and that people make their own choices (true enough), but that argument wasn’t used in the other categories.
Multimedia support out-of-the-box
At the end I tried out some generic multimedia activities. The MP3 files played without a glitch. Even Amarok had a very good performance (where PC-BSD’s Amarok stuttered through the music). The .WMV file was taken care of by VLC, which is a very versatile mediaplayer. Firefox had quite some problems with websites that required flash (understandable) and two other sites I use for testing (www.nu.nl) and http://www.voorleesbijbel.nl). In all cases it asked for plugins and in this DesktopBSD requires more effort than I expected. Youtube is a big no, again due to the flash requirements. Later this month I will explore DesktopBSD’s solutions for this.
I like the look and feel of DesktopBSD. It leaves a very good first impression. When it comes to the installed applications I am a bit disappointed. I can only encourage the team to provide the new user with a more balanced set of applications and add an office suite and a personal information manager to the desktop.