Conquering Konqueror

Perhaps I don’t need to say it again, but I am a KDE person. This means Kopete, Konsole, Kontact (with KMail, Akregator, Calendar, Todo, etc), Dolphin, Plasma, KWin … KDE. However, funnily enough, one of my greatest it-looks-scary-lets-stay-away-from-it is Konqueror. For those that don’t know, Konqueror is KDE’s ultimate penknife applications. It’s used as a file browser, a web browser, a document viewer, supports remote file browsing, has window splitting (divide and conquer), terminal emulator … basically an all-in-one.

I don’t really like all-in-one programs. I like powerful applications, but all-in-one seems to me to be the ultimate cookbook to failure. Hey, let’s keep on stuffing features in, but let’s not do it very well, so we end up with an unpolished product. Another bad thing about all-in-one applications is that when you want to do something quickly, you’ll have to wait for some monolithic program to load up. Folks who like Konqueror seem to love saying “We’re the exception!” So it’s time for me to check it out. Note: this is Konqueror on KDE 4.1.2. Not any 3.x stuff.

Previously I used Firefox for webbrowsing, Dolphin for file browsing, and ncftp for FTP, as well as ssh for … well, SSH. The best way to evaluate the tool is to use it. Ok, I move my Firefox to Desktop 3, which is basically the Desktop I use for dumping stuff I don’t plan to look at. Open up Konqueror, and I’m greeted with a wonderful splash screen which prompts for me to check out My Home, My Trash, My Network Folders, and My Applications. I like Networked folders, as I’ve got quite a few, and so that’s very useful to me. My Trash – I don’t know. I rarely check my trash. Often it’s the “rm” command that comes whenever I want to obliterate a file. The Home folder is very useful to me, though I generally never keep anything in my /home/dion folder, I tend to categorize everything in /home/dion/documents. Finally, My Applications – it seems as though I’ve got no applications installed – which is a bit disturbing. A quick check in the #kde IRC channel said that some things like that which rely on kioslaves don’t work yet. Bummer.

Well, time to do some web browsing. Go to gmail.com. Oh no! Apparently I’m using a non-fully-supported browser. What a shame. That means no Google Talk. However, some research finds that Kopete supports Jabber stuff like Google Talk, so I can integrate my GTalk contacts into Kopete. Hurrah! Problem solved. A quick poke into the sidebar shows me having no network folders. Apparently that’s still borked too. Bummer. A new tab opens and I love the macro gg: google search keywords go here. +1 for Konqueror, and the whole design is nicely integrated with KDE. Opening new tabs seem to shrink existing tabs. I don’t really like this behavior, and I would prefer for the tabs to take up the whole row before any shrinking is done, and then don’t keep on shrinking it, scroll it, like on Firefox. I don’t think it’s very smart to show a list of nearly identical icons with the text “…” next to it, and expect the user to know exactly what’s in that tab. I then decide to go to wordpress to start drafting the beginning of this post. What do you know, the Visual editor isn’t supported. Bummer. I can’t even resize the box here. (Currently typing this in Firefox).

On the plus size, the sessions feature is great, and so is the splitting of windows. Windowful fun! The sidepane could use a lot more love before I decide it’s useful for me, the networked files wins hands down, file browsing is a breeze, and the profiles are plain ingenious. I don’t know whether I didn’t manage to find it, but there seems to not be a sort of sidebar which shows related information (icon, preview, date, size, owner, etc) when I hover over a file, like Dolphin has. (I was later told this could be gotten through a plug-in).

Here’s a screenshot with a summary as well as to provide some visual stimulation for those who haven’t/cannot experience Konqueror yet. (Click on it for full size)

Well, I don’t think Konqueror would replace my Firefox yet (or even my Dolphin!), but it’s definitely given me a very positive impression of working with networked files. I must say, it’s a good change from ncftp once in a while. Perhaps the developers could use some of the hints here and help fix up some of the issues – especially the ones related to web browsing. Perhaps I’ll review Konqueror again in the future ;)

Dion Moult

I've been developing software for well over 10 years, work as an architect (not the computer kind, the regular sort), and am classically trained as a pianist. I try to do the right thing when I get the chance in my field, such as through contributing to open-source communities and promoting sustainable living.

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  1. @p. Hardly! Konqueror is a KDE application, and I believe runs with Qt. Of course, like most Qt applications, this means that it runs on Windows as well, however I still see it as being native on Linux. This is not Microsoft related at all.

    @Ubuntu For Free: Thank you for your comment! That ctrl-E shortcut really saved me today. I didn’t notice a “View most visited” menu option, but perhaps that’s because this is KDE 4. I heard a lot of the features are still missing.

    Some new complaints that popped up today were:
    1) Tabs seem to resize themselves based on how long the page title is. This means that when changing pages, the tab keeps shrinking/growing. This behavior makes it hard for me to quickly jump to a tab if its length keeps on changing.

    2) An “Up” button for web browsing? For file browsing, sure … but, for web browsing? More than once I’ve accidentally clicked that, realised I would never need such a feature and concluded that it was simply “getting in the way”.

    3) For some strange reason, when loading new pages, the icon in my taskbar seems to fluctuate between the actual favicon of the webpage and the favicon with a page icon as a background. This is jut a minor issue, but really distracts me.

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