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KDE 4.0 continues to edge closer to completion with today's announcement of the Beta 2 release. Improvements have been made to Bluetooth support and blogging functions, and a freeze is in place so developers can begin working on bug fixes. Beta 2 also includes KOffice 2.0 Alpha 2 and a complete overhaul of remote desktop client KRDC.
Developer Sebastian Kügler says about 10,000 man-hours have gone into the codebase since the last beta release just over a month ago, thanks to a "very healthy" KDE community.
Plasma, KDE 4's desktop workspace, is exempt from the feature freeze so improvements can continue to be made, but Kügler says that part of the project is going very well. "We already have a nice set of applets, such as clock, battery, and Web services such as weather, RSS feeds, and file icons. Currently work is being done on the taskbar. The artwork team is working on finalizing the theming, including icons, widget style, and wallpapers. I've played around with the new compositing features of KWin, the window manager. It looks useful already, although there are some performance issues."
KDE 4's release will mark the first time that the client ships with Dolphin as a file manager, but Kügler stressed that Konqueror, the file manager in previous versions, isn't going anywhere. "Konqueror is, of course, still our Web browser of choice. Dolphin is a new application that focuses on file browsing and usability. By untangling file manager and the Web browser, we're able to optimize the user interfaces for the task at hand. As all the technology is there anyway, we also offer Konqueror as the file manager for those who want it; it will then use parts of Dolphin. Dolphin will be the default file manager for 4.0."
When can users expect the final version of KDE 4? No official date has been set, but developers are shooting for a late December release.