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I'm going to be installing Debian on my main desktop, that I use mainly for development and Internet use.

I've used everything from GNOME, to XFCE, going through awesome and, of course KDE 2, 3 and now, 4.

I've liked KDE 4, but it felt a little slugish at times and now I really want a lightning-fast stable-as-a-rock desktop. XFCE its an option, but as I really like some KDE apps (Amarok 1.4 comes to mind as one of the best applications ever made for desktop linux) I'm trying to decide

For normal desktop usage, should I go with Debian stable with KDE 3.5.9, go with Debian Unstable or Slackware with KDE 4.2/4.3, or with any distro of my choice with XFCE?

I know that KDE 3.5.X is a dieing branch, but it came to a level of elegance and stability that KDE 4 will have some time reaching to.

Am I just being nostalgic? Is it worth/possible still to use KDE 3? Should I suck it up and jump in the bandwagon with KDE 4? Should I jump ships and go with GNOME or XFCE?

What is your take on this?

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"Amarok 1.4 comes to mind as one of the best applications ever made for desktop linux" - Gee, that's setting the bar high. ducks –  David Pearce Sep 21 '09 at 6:58
    
@joshhunt: YOU ARE GONNA BURN TO CINDER!!! raises fist in anger –  voyager Sep 21 '09 at 7:00
    
Really though, have you used it? –  voyager Sep 21 '09 at 7:01
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6 Answers

I'd honestly go with what you feel most comfortable and productive with. If you have the resources and you're used to it, stick with KDE. If your heart's set on speed, a simple wm on top of X is what you're after, such as awesome as you have already mentioned or even ratpoison or xmonad. The *box variants are also a good balance between speed and functionality (blackbox, openbox, fluxbox, etc..). There are a ton of good GNOME apps and it's easy to get used to if you fear transition. XFCE is also fairly lightweight and easy to use all around. Try out a couple perhaps - see which ones you can't stand and which ones you enjoy.

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The thing is, would KDE3 be both fast enough on my modern hardware and still maintained for the next year? (I haven't used KDE 3 for a year now, and never in this machine) –  voyager Sep 21 '09 at 5:30
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I don't see an EOL date for 3 posted on their site yet, you're still in the clear :) –  John T Sep 21 '09 at 5:58
    
That is comforting. I guess I'll install Debian and see if I can stand the old packages for the time being, and then go with testing. –  voyager Sep 21 '09 at 6:28
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Personally I've been sticking with KDE 3.5 until now, but am aware that its days are probably numbered. I've tested KDE 4.3 and it seems to be good enough to move to IMO (all the predecessors have had some little niggles I couldn't put up with).

I'm planning to make the change to 4 when openSUSE 11.2 comes out and I'll be reinstalling from scratch. (Will also be moving from 32 to 64-bit!)
openSUSE's support for KDE has always been very good, which isn't something you can say for a lot of distributions (*cough* Kubuntu *cough*).

<digression>
I've played a little with Awesome and Xmonad, and like the idea in theory, but too much to learn in practice.

Agree that Amarok 1.4 is fantastic (and Amarok 2.x is awful!)
</digression>

BTW, I know you can run KDE applications under GNOME, and would be very surprised if you couldn't under XFCE, so if you really prefer XFCE overall, but want to use some of the KDE apps then it should not be a problem.

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Go with KDE4. It's faster and continuing to be updated. Alternatively, give Fluxbox a try

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KDE 4 now has a much wider variety of styles/themes/fonts/colors options.
I was able to get a look like my previous KDE3.5.9 setup had.
I use only KDE4 apps, on the standard Ubuntu GNOME desktop.
KDE 4 desktop seems counter-intuitive and troublesome to me, but KDE 4 apps at this point, can be styled to match KDE 3.5 looks.
I personally use Konqueror (File Manamegent), Dolphin, KDiskFree, Kate, KSnapshot, Basket, KWrite, KImageMapEditor.
All these can be styled from Applications -> System Tools -> System Settings.
Of course, KDE 3.5.x is brilliant and you have an unofficial Kubuntu + KDE3.5 repo at pearsoncomputing which is quite stable and full of all the useful stuff.

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I have been using KDE 4 with Openbox on Mandriva 2010, and I have found it noticeably snappier. It may be to do with the combination of kwin and my graphics card (I gave up on the compositing desktop quite quickly!), so it may not make as big a difference to you.

I used to use XFCE with a lot of KDE apps, and that works well too.

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kde4 is quite powerful, arguably less resource intensive, and in full development. plasma is a wonderful desktop manager, and seems to have loads of new features in 4.4 (out feb 9th), not to mention kopete 1.0 (finally). kate/kdevelop(beta) is also rocking, amarok2 is getting itself straight, dolphin is a wodnerful filemanager (but konqueror is here too). and kde4.5 promises the kontact 2, atop akonadi (personal data center) and integrating akregator, kmail, kontact, etc.

not to mention the theme layer, kde-look.org is full of new stuff every day. ("get new stuff" works wonderfully in archlinux kde4.3.4, and it seems to be improving as well).

btw, the egyptian theme for kpatience makes it the most beautiful card game i played on the pc.

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