Sunday, August 8, 2010

Porting KDE Apps to Windows

This never came to my mind before,trying to run KDE apps on windows!.But a friend put the same question on twitter.Thats when I thought to try out .Although I was aware of such a project long ago,the lack of an Internet connection at that time did not allow me to test how this works out.

KDE has never been my choice as a desktop environment in Linux.Even after KDE started the oxygen project with fancy new themes and glossy icons,I was still not convinced of switching to KDE.Gnome is still my preferred Environment

But porting KDE apps to windows?Whoa that was something which I wanted to tinker with!Initially I thought the whole process might end up like the Wubi Experience with Ubuntu,but as it turns out...the native look and feel of KDE is still there(All those Oxygen based Icon sets)but it works like a charm in Vista too.I tried the whole thing on a Thinkpad X200 tablet running Windows Vista business 32bits.

The initial setup involves selecting the proxy settings enabling the KDE installer to connect to the respective repositories.The download and installation of the packages might depend on the number of  apps you want to install and the speed of your connection

Note: To get full size images,please click on them

[caption id="attachment_688" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Initial setup"][/caption]

After detecting the proxy settings,the installer continues to the package selection.There are a plethora of apps available.Most of them games and office utilities.

[caption id="attachment_689" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="package selection"][/caption]

Mine is a 256Kbps ADSL connection,so it took about 2 hours  to install 490 MB worth of packages.Enough time for me to watch a bollywood blockbuster or 3 episodes of Alias back to back!The download was complete and the apps were installed into the default directory (Documents folder).

[caption id="attachment_690" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Installation"][/caption]

After the installation is complete you will notice that the apps have been neatly organized/placed into windows explorer.The start menu shows them under various categories depending upon their usage.This is really good,something which I have not found in Windows apps running on Wine.

The other good thing about this is that you still get the Native Windows Aero.Atleast you dont have to sacrifice the original theme of the host OS.On the other hand people familiar with Wine will notice how ugly the UI is of any Windows app running on Linux.All of this depends of course on the compiler on which these apps have been designed to work on.The MinGW compiler is a cross platform and opensource system based on GCC.It can be used to create apps to run on Windows and Linux.Best example of this is the Firefox browser.

The only thing which I liked about the newer versions of KDE was the oxygen theme set.Something which has been incorporated into this app.From KDE 4.0 onwards dolphin has been the default file manager.And running in conjuntion with Oxygen theme just gives it the perfect finish.(More polished then the simplistic Gnome)

As you will notice from the next image,the Oxygen theme is more of a macitosh thrown in with a glossy finish.There is a real time folder preview here too very nice!Just taking the mouse over a particular folder shows a collage of pictures on the right

[caption id="attachment_696" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Dolphin manager running Oxygen"][/caption]

As mentioned earlier,I never seriously used KDE.All this was done due to curiosity.The one thing which I always liked about KDE have been its bundled games.They are not memory hogging or heavy games,but the more rudimentary ones like board and card games,puzzles and some other teaser games.There was no dearth for those here!.Those who want to pass their time with them have plenty of choices.Here are some more screenshots of my favourite KDE games.

[caption id="attachment_698" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="bejwelled on KDE"][/caption]

Not only games,but Konqueror the default web browser of the KDE runs very well too!Looks like KDE is doing a good job than what people at Wine are doing...

Has anyone of you tried to run KDE on Windows?