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Give me a K!

KDE 2.2 makes Linux a challenger to Windows XP. Linux hed: Give me a K! dek: KDE 2.2 makes Linux a challenger to Windows XP.

The recent release of the K Desktop Environment, or KDE version 2.2, raises the bar for the oft-maligned Linux desktop capability. With KDE 2.2, Linux is finally becoming a serious desktop contender.

Of course, even if Linux becomes a contender on the desktop, Microsoft Windows, in all its sundry flavors, remains the dominant desktop operating system. Linux still has a long ways to go to convince users to switch over from Windows. Even so, the city of Largo, Fla., recently rolled out a system based on thin clients running the KDE desktop from Linux servers.

Furthermore, KDE 2.2 should help these efforts. It includes an enhanced set of more than 100 desktop productivity applications, including Konqueror, the KDE file and Web browser. Konqueror combines file browsing (similar to Windows Explorer) with Web browsing in one integrated package. In KDE 2.2, Konqueror supports a wide variety of plug-ins and media formats including Flash, RealAudio, RealVideo, and the Shockwave ActiveX player. For file browsing, Konqueror provides network transparency. You can view remote file systems as if they were available locally. This includes Windows SMB shares, NFS (network file system) mounts, FTP (file transfer protocol) directories, HTTP pages, LDAP servers, even digital cameras and audio CDs. All are available seamlessly in Konqueror.

KDE 2.2 is available in source-code form. You can order KDE on CD-ROM from a number of vendors. In addition, you can download pre-built binary versions for a host of Linux and UNIX systems. Supported Linux systems include Caldera, Connectiva, Debian, Linux-Mandrake, Red Hat and SuSE. Supported UNIX systems include FreeBSD, IBM AIX, and Compaq Tru64 UNIX. Links to the pre-built binary versions are online.

KDE isn’t the only desktop choice, and this highlights one of the great strengths of Linux: freedom of choice. The GNOME desktop provides the default desktop on Red Hat Linux. KDE acts as the default desktop on most other Linux distributions.

In addition to KDE 2.2, the KDE office suite KOffice should make its 1.1 release within a month. This helps desktop users who currently use Microsoft Office applications migrate to Linux. Among the changes in KOffice 1.1 is support for inputting Asian characters using the XIM Linux/UNIX input standard. KDE 2.2 follows this international trend and is available in 34 languages.

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