In the migration from 3.x to 4.x, the KDE developers decided to make a rather bold move: replace KDE's file browsing function with Dolphin. Now before I get into this rant, I want to say that Dolphin isn't horrible, it's just that Konqueror was probably one of the finest file managers available — on any platform. That being said...
The KDE developers decided that Konqueror was best served as a stand-alone Web browser and they wanted to focus their efforts as such. Okay, I understand the desire to have the best possible Web browser available. But Linux already has that in Firefox. So why bother? Why not keep Konqueror as the KDE file manager that just happens to also function as a browser. That, to me, makes much more sense than the route the developers have chosen.
After a long, long time using Linux I have to say that I can probably count on my fingers the total hours I have used Konqueror as a Web browser. It's not much. There's a reason for that: Konqueror has never been an outstanding browser. Sure it's a good alternative, but it's not a game changer as a browser as it is as a file manager.
Now I realize that most people don't give file managers much of a second look. But when you've actually used a tool that stands out among its peers you quickly realize when something is special. Konqueror as a file manager is just that. As a file manager Konqueror has features no other file manager offers. It can connect via ssh, it can be viewed in multiple modes, it is more flexible than any other manager.
Another issue the developers see is that Konqueror is really a "Power Users" application whereas Dolphin will be more of a beginner's file manager. I get that. But why not just have two profiles for Konqueror? You can offer a menu option for Power User and Regular User mode. That way you save precious resources to focus on fixing what is still broken in KDE 4. And shouldn't that be what it's all about? Instead of taking the Microsoft approach (where you just add more features to hide the fact that older features are still broken), actually focus on fixing known issues and bugs. That's the Linux modus operandi which is what surprises me with this decision.
I realize that the KDE developers are keeping the Konqueror file management functionality intact. And I realize that it's possible to reconfigure KDE so that Konqueror is the default file manager. But those people new to linux are going to assume Dolphin is the only file manager and Konqueror the main browser. To me this is a mistake, as much as I admire the KDE team for sticking to their guns with Konqueror as the KDE browser. But new users need familiarity and the Firefox/Konqueror combination gives them that.
So I would ask the KDE developers to rethink this decision. It's not just my grumbling, but also a vast majority of users on the Ubuntu, Mandriva, and Fedora mailing lists. The Linux faithful are speaking. Are the people making the decisions listening? In this case, I certainly hope so.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.