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Home >> Introduction >> Glossary

This page sets out to provide a non-technical reference, together with links for further information or demonstration. It should be noted that not all of the KDE 4 developments are available in 4.0. Some maynot be ready for 4.1.

A General Overview

A KDE 4.0 Visual Guide: and a 4.1 screencast give an excellent overview of KDE 4.

The following glossary is intended to help you find your way through the mists of new names and new concepts. In some cases you can find a link from a KDE 3 component to its equivalent in KDE 4.

Activities are sets of Plasma widgets that have their own wallpaper. A bit like Virtual Desktops, but not quite.
For example you have a "work activity" with commit rss feeds, a note with your TODO, a Folder View with your work related files, and a subtle wallpaper.
Next to it, you have your freetime activity, with previews of family photos and dogs, rss feeds from your favourite blogs, a Folder View showing your movie collection, a twitter applet and of course that Iron Maiden wallpaper you have been loving since the early 80s.
At 1700 hours sharp you switch from the work activity to your freetime activity.
More info:
Creating Activities

The data storage access mechanism for all PIM (Personal Information Manager) data in KDE 4. One single storage and retrieval system allows efficiency and extensibiliy not possible under KDE3, where each PIM component had its own system. Note that use of Akonadi does not change data storage formats (vcard, iCalendar, mbox, maildir etc.) - it just provides a new way of accessing and updating the data.
More info:
Akonadi - KDE PIM
Wikipedia - Akonadi
Techbase - Akonadi

The sound framework in KDE 2 and 3. Its single-tasking nature caused problems when two sources of sound were encountered. In KDE 4 it is replaced by Phonon
More info:
Wikipedia - aRts
aRtsHome Page

A Containment is a top level grouping of widgets. Each Containment manages the layout and configuration data of its set of widgets independently from other Containments.
The end result is that you can group widgets within a Containment according to the significance to your working pattern, rather than by directory grouping.

An inter-service messaging system. Developed by RedHat, it was heavily influenced by KDE's DCOP, which it supercedes.
More info:
FreeDesktop.org: What is D-Bus?
Wikipedia: D-Bus

Using D-Bus, Decibel is the framework to manage all communication protocols including IM, email and VOIP through a unified system. Decibel is expected to be fully functional by KDE 4.2.
More info:
Wikipedia - Decibel
Techbase - Decibel
Decibel website

The default file manager in KDE4. It has a side panel, but navigation is mainly by the 'breadcrumb' trail above the main window. Split windows are possible, and views can be applied to individual windows. Mounting and umounting USB devices can be done in the side-panel.
More info:
Wikipedia- Dolphin_(software)
Road to KDE 4: Dolphin and Konqueror
Ars Technica: A First Look at Dolphin
Youtube - KDE 4 rev 680445 - Dolphin
Introducing KDE 4 Blog - Dolphin

Extenders are a special kind of popup that can grow out of a Plasma panel for example. Extenders have detachable parts. Extenders are a new concept that will enter Plasma for KDE 4.2. The Kuiserver (the interface that collects all long running jobs and puts them into one window, also planned for that release) will make use of extenders so you can detach various jobs and monitor their progress separately.
More info:
Mockup Screenshots
The Elements of Plasma

Flake is a programming library to be used in KOffice2. Functionally, it provides Shapes to display content and Tools to manipulate content. Shapes can be zoomed or rotated and can be grouped towork as a single Shape, around which text flow is possible.
More info:
KOffice Wiki - Flake

That's the place in system, where all your files are kept. You can write your files outside of this folder, but all applications are configured to propose this folder as place to write your files to. And this is easier, when you are keeping your things here.
More info:

KDE Control Center, for setting global preferences in KDE3. Replaced by KDE4's System Settings interface.

A KPart module making KHTML DOM (Document Object Model) rendering capabilities available to all applications. KSVG2 is built on KDOM for KDE 4.

KHTML is the HTML rendering engine for the KDE desktop, as used by KDE's Konqueror Browser. It also provides a KPart that enables all KDE applications to display web content. KDE4 also sees the introduction of Qt WebKit for Plasma and other applications.

In KDE 3, the relocatable bar, usually at the bottom of the screen (sometimes called the Panel), on which application launchers, the Pager, and buttons for running applications reside. See Panel

In KDE 4 (and some late versions of KDE 3), a launch menu in which apps are sorted by functional group. 'Favorites' replaces the 'Most used applications' in Classic Menu, and applications can be added to it. Right-click also offers the possibility of adding applications to the desktop or panel. Rapid access to a less-used application can be by the search box. Other menus are being worked on, since KDE 4 can be used with more than one launcher, should that be required.
More info:
Kickoff Sneak Preview

KDE's JavaScript engine.

Kinfocenter originated as part of Kcontrol standing alone from KDE 3.1. In KDE 4 it is replaced by modules configured in System Settings, notably Solid
More Info:
Wikipedia - KInfoCenter

KDE Input/Output framework provides a single API for operating on files, whether local or on aremote server. Additionally, KIO Slaves provide support for individual protocols. Some particularly useful ones are http, ftp, sftp, smb, nfs, ssh (fish), man, tar and zip.
More info:
Wikipedia - KIO
Linux.com - Master the KIO slaves
Breaking the Network Barrier

Kiosk is a framework for restricting user capabilities on a KDE system, ideal for use in locked-down environments such as Internet cafés. Currently available in KDE 3 only.

A KPart is an individual component of the KDE desktop environment and allows applications to share their services with other applications. KParts allow KMail and KOrganizer to integrate (as plugins) into the Kontact suite, or KHTML to display sites in Akregator.

Kross is a scripting framework, enabling KDE 4 support for multiple scripting languages. A plugin system allows for the support of further languages in the future.

the mini-command-line that is accessed from the KDE Classic menu, the keyboard shortcut Alt+F2, or a right-click on the desktop. In KDE4 a partial name will display all possible matches
More info:
Youtube - KDE 4.1 KRunner

KSVG enables support for scalable vector graphics in a KHTML browser. KSVG2 extends this for KDE 4.

KWin is the window manager. This is where window decorations can be changed and themes applied. KDE4 extends KWin to provide support for 3D Compositing effects on the desktop.
More info:
Road to KDE 4: KWin Composite
KDE4 Desktop Effects Video Tour
Youtube - KDE 4.0 KWin Composite Showcast
Youtube - KWin compositing config & intro

See KRunner

'Networked Environment for Personalized, Ontology-based Management of Unified Knowledge', Nepomuk aims to remove artificial barriers between information to allow dynamic classification, organisation and presentation of data to the user. Whether downloaded from the internet, received in an email or scribbled in a note, information is globally searchable and tagged with intelligent data. See The Semantic Desktop for further discussion of this concept.
More info:
Wikipedia - Semantic Desktop
Wikipedia - NEPOMUK Framework
NEPOMUK website
Userbase Nepomuk page
Oxygen is the default theme of KDE4. Designed to bring 'a breath of fresh air' to the desktop by removing the simplistic, cartoonish icons, and replacing them with a clean theme and photo-realistic icons. Oxygen uses a desaturated palette to avoid the icons becoming a distraction and uses detailed scalable graphics (SVG).
More info:
Wikipedia - Oxygen Project
Oxygen Icons

A pager is a small program or panel applet which shows the position of windows on your desktop and usually if you have several Virtual Desktops gives an overview over all.

See Kicker. In KDE4 the name 'kicker' is dropped, and the name 'panel' is the norm. 'Applets' are replaced by Widgets

A cross-platform multimedia API, interfacing with existing frameworks, such as gstreamer and xine engines. KDE 2 and 3 depended on aRts for sound. Phonon replaces it.
More info:
Wikipedia - Phonon (KDE)
Phonon website

In KDE 4 Plasma replaces KDesktop, kicker and the superkaramba widget engine. The applets are called Plasmoids, and range from informational widgets to mini-apps such as a calculator or dictionary.
More info:
Wikipedia - Plasma (KDE)
Plasma website
Plasma FAQ
Youtube - Plasma Applets Galore (Part 1)
Liquidat's Blog

(Pronounced 'cute') A framework/toolkit for writing cross-platform applications. It is used by many cross-platform applications such as Opera browser, GoogleEarth and Skype. Qt is developed by Trolltech, who are now part of the Nokia. Qt forms the underlying library KDE is built on.
More info:
The Qt Toolkit
Qt Demo Videos

Raptor is the third application menu available for KDE4 and uses a style similar to music hardware interfaces. Raptor is not finished yet. Other menus are also in preparation
More info:
Raptor home page
Raptor review

Solid provides a single API for hardware management. Hardware is grouped into 'domains'. The initial domains relate to HAL, NetworkManager and the Bluetooth stack.Since the backends for Solid are pluggable, Solid helps application developers write less code, and have it platform independent.
More Info:
Discover Solid
Solid Brings Hardware Configuration and Control to KDE

Sonnet is a multilingual spell-checker planned for KDE 4. One of its strengths is the ability to recognise the language in use and call up the appropriate dictionary.
More info:
KDE 4's Sonnet will turbocharge language processing
Liquidat's blog, January 2007

Soprano is a sub-project of |Nepomuk, providing a repository for gathered information such as tags, ratings, etc.. This makes the information available to Strigi
More info:
More about Nepomuk-KDE: Soprano and KDE integration

A deep-indexed search daemon, Strigi aims to be fast and light-weight. It also uses SHA-1 hash which will help in the identification of duplicate files.
More info:
Strigi - the fastest and smallest desktop searching program
Wikipedia - Strigi

System Settings
KDE 4's replacement for KControl (Control Center) providing modular control over the KDE system.
More info:
KDE4 System Settings illustrated

This thread programming library spreads work among multiple-core processors where available, prioritising them before queueing them for execution. ThreadWeaver provides a high-level job interface for multithreaded programming.
More info:
Why Multithreading? (Technical article)

Virtual Desktops
A popular concept of Unix based window managers is the one of virtual desktops. This means you have not only one screen where you can place your windows on but several. When you switch to a different desktop (usually with a pager) you will only see the windows which you started on your newdesktop or moved to it. A window can also be made "sticky" which means it appears on all virtual desktops.

HTML rendering engine, originating from a fork of KHTML. Adopted by Apple and developed for Safari. Webkit brings the whole functionality back to KDE 4, where it is available through Qt.
More info:
The Webkit home page
Wikipedia - Webkit

Collins English Dictionary: "Any small mechanism or device the name of which is unknown or temporarily forgotten." In KDE terms, a widget is a single component on the canvas. Other common names that are analogous are "applet" or "gadget". Superkaramba Themes, Apple's Dashboard, Google Gadgets, Yahoo Widgets, Vista Sidebar Widgets, Opera Widgets are all examples of other widget systems (some of which are supported by Plasma as well).

The X-Server represents a basic layer upon which the various GUIs like KDE are built. It manages the basic mouse and keyboard input (from the local host as well as from remote hosts) and provides elementary graphic routines to draw rectangles and other primitives.

A programmers' framework for designing the user interface. It is extensively used by KParts
More info:
Wikipedia - XMLGUI
Wikipedia - Qt Style Sheets

The Zooming User Interface. "By zooming out, users can get an overview of all the object groupings that they have made. These groupings may reflect the projects they are working on, be ways to keep different sets of files organized, etc. By hovering or clicking on one of these groups when zoomed out, users can either get a preview/snapshot of what is in the grouping, or zoom in on that grouping so that it is displayed full size on the physical screen." aseigo.
More info:
Youtube ZUI demo

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