This week in Usability & Productivity, part 34

Amazing how time flies. We’re already on week 34 for KDE’s Usability & Productivity reports!

First I want to specially highlight some critically important fixes for Samba shares that landed this week:

I’m very happy to report that more Samba improvements are on the way too, including a critical fix for an issue that causes silent data loss when using a non-KDE app that performs atomic saves (such as LibreOffice or Blender) to save modified files that are located on a Samba share originally accessed from Dolphin.

My sense is that that poor samba sharing support is a strategic issue causing pain to many of our users and preventing others from using our software. I’d like to verify this theory, so if these fixes benefit you or you’ve experienced more pain points with Samba beyond what’s already fixed or planned, please share in the comments.

New Features

Bugfixes

UI Polish & Improvement

Next week, your name could be in this list! Just check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters.

If my efforts to perform, guide, and document this work seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, then consider becoming a patron on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal. Also consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

35 thoughts on “This week in Usability & Productivity, part 34

  1. When entering a samba share Gnome will ask for domain, username and password.

    KDE will just ask for a username and password. You can insert a domain into the dolphin address bar but that’s frustrating.

    Most software developers I know end up on their own Linux network that ‘IT’ refuse to support and so run their own LDAP, etc… and then have to mount the corporate samba shares/email.

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  2. “KDevelop now looks good on HiDPI screens”

    Are there any list somewhere of what apps are confirmed to look good HiDPI screens? That would be very useful to improve the remaining apps.

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  3. Also the Plasma Activities Explorer’s text field should now live on its own row and be visible by default.

    BTW, you could move Configure Desktop > Tweaks content into Desktop Behavior > Workspace

    Thank you for this incredible DE!

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  4. Great work every week
    I was asking Can we make notification center looks like Widget Explorer’s
    I mean full hight of the page like in budgie for example
    I think it will look better
    And maybe stacked to the right side maybe
    And maybe inetgrate media controller to it too for more clean look

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      1. I think that, if we had a plasmoid/button that would control the visible state of a given panel, that would solve most of this problems.

        You could create a panel on the right side, place in it whatever you’d like and control it thru the button

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  5. Yeah, I noticed how samba was troublesome on Plasma. On Gnome or Pantheon it just worked out of the box with Nautilus (or its fork), while Dolphin was/is doing some strange things with it.
    Also, Gtk DEs usually are so configured that samba just works with file managers. Somehow, Plasma was always different and Dolphin never worked with Samba by default and that was always a source of confusion and irritation to many users. However, all it took was to edit samba conf and add the path to the shares.
    In theory, this is a job for distro maintainers to configure their edition properly but somehow Gtk flavors were always properly configured while Plasma was not.
    I’m not sure if that is the case at the moment. I saw those problems a while ago. Adding to that Dolphin’s strange behavior of working with samba shares (while there were no such issues on nautilus) it made Plasma the worst DE for users who want to use samba and that is rather a good percentage of users.

    I’m still surprised that there are no GUI managers for Samba by now and all configuration has to be done manually and we are required to read very long, very complicated samba conf documentation.

    Anyway, this is a step in the right direction and as always kudos for all the work to make Plasma better!

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    1. There used to be a KDE application for managing Samba, but it went unmaintained and didn’t get ported to the newer versions of KDE. It seems to me that the best way to solve the Samba issue is with a VFS type solution like Gnome uses. I think that the KDE guys really need to do something like that. Perhaps they can leverage gvfs as well as the KIO system (which was great when we were using konqueror, but may not be as useful with dolphin.)

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        1. I remember reading that bug report years (and years) ago. Not very encouraging that it’s still open and David Faure is still poo-pooing it. I think the risk of having hanging mounts is really small compared to the broader use case people need from proper remote mounting. Hopefully Bo Simonsen is successful in porting kiofuse to kde5. Then we need it to be properly integrated.

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    2. Zalbaratu, I think you are confusing sharing folders from your KDE machine vs. reading Samba shares from another machine. The first is not pretty in KDE and I also had a lot of problems under GNOME. It only worked well in Ubuntu Unity due to some Ubuntu magic.

      Accessing remote Samba shares works fine in KDE – just browse to “network” and access what you want. It could work better, for example storing passwords for non default domains is a mess, and opening files in non KDE apps is annoying to say the least, but it definitely does not require editing files by hand, and it doesn’t require any additional programs except dolphin.

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      1. Yep. Though creating your own Samba shares got a fix this week. However, the issue for non-KDE apps can be more than annoying, as seen with the bugs we’ve fixed and continue to fix. And a big use case is watching videos on a Samba share, which is quite frustrating due to the lengthy download time and waste of space imposed by the local download requirement. For that, we may have no other option but to implement a gvfs-style solution, which is tracked by https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=75324

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        1. I would really love to see something like that happen, but its takes more than just implementing a FUSE wrapper – it takes a lot of integration: transparently mounting URLs when you browse to them, knowing when to unmount, etc. I think this kind of work should be done at the freedesktop.org level to define a service API for desktop virtual file system mounts.

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          1. It’s true. A FreeDesktop spec for this would indeed be pretty nice. It’s been on my mind too since even if we make a FUSE system, that won’t solve the problem of opening a GIMP file on a Samba share using Dolphin: when you do File > Save As, you’ll be unable to find the Samba share in the GTK file dialog unless it’s mounted and exposed in a way that the GTK dialog can see. The level of coordination required for something like definitely suggests that a cross-desktop spec would be beneficial.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. guss77, I was speaking in general terms so both about creating shares and reading them.

        Many Plasma distros don’t have correct samba integration because that had to be done either by distro developers or manually by users. Some distros probably handled it better than others but it was a frequent situation where Dolphin had samba share menu (like all other file managers) but the share was not remembered. I’m glad this is being fixed now.
        As to reading, this also works/worked capricious. At one moment it was ok, then I was given some error and had to wait for many minutes or restart Dolphin to regain the correct share view and many other, hard to describe weirdnesses. It was just random and unreliable.

        On Gtk DEs, all works OTB, creating and reading shares, no issues there. Seeing such a huge difference between current plasma and for example old Elementary OS Freya (based on Ubuntu 14.04) was painful. The old system was handling it so much better.

        I’m glad that this is being worked on finally. Most would like to curse the hell out of samba but yet this is often the simplest (and yet so complicated and troublesome) solution for average users. Sure, there are other options but they are not integrated into file managers (at least not by default) and one has to read more about it and tinker with it to make it work. In the end, those solutions may work better than samba and be easier but there is an entry barrier for average users and it’s not easy to cross over. So improving samba support is a great thing.

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  6. Samba support is critical for us so improvements here will help us be able to consider Plasma where we have been sticking to gnome-based solutions until now. Thanks again for all the efforts and especially the communication of the larger community efforts so that many can see how active KDE is!

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  7. KDE SAMBA improvements are always appreciated, though I think that KIO is a poor architecture (in that it requires every application to rewrite their file operations to use KIO -which is rarely possible for non-KDE apps – or use slow and problematic temp copies) and the systemic approach of gvfs is a much better idea and I wish KDE will drop KIO in favor of much tighter gvfs integration – that is the one thing that will seriously improve my SAMBA experience in KDE.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi ! Thanks Nate, some MAJOR stuff, again, this week, 🙂

    On to sth different : I’m looking for some other people experiencing a problem I have on 2 different KDE boxes (Neon / Manjaro). I haven’t figured out how to replicate it so I cannot file a bug yet :-/

    – sometimes, when using KDE Connect, sending some files from the phone to the PC, each subsequent Gwenview invocation takes about 10 seconds instead of being quasi instant. It happens with any picture I open when the problem started occuring. It only stops when I disconnecting the phones or the wifi or reboot.

    I managed to trigger it tonight on my 2 machines (Manjaro & Neon with up to date KDE stacks) but I yet have to find a reliable protocol. This must have something to do with kio…

    Did anyone experience it too ? I definitely have to investigate more & open a proper report.

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  9. > Fixed a bug that could cause Discover to hang forever after trying to perform updates (Aleix Pol, KDE Plasma
    > 5.12.7)

    That’s big! Thanks for all and work and for the updates.

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  10. Oh yeah, Samba related fixes, that’s nice! A proper handling of this thing is crucial for many people – networks and shares are everywhere around us, and many of them are using smb protocol, so this should be easy to deal with and reliable. Thank you!

    One more thing that is crucial for many people is input method support. I’ve discovered recently that Gnome has a nice feature: every time one adds a layout for some language that has complicated input methot it suggests not just generic language layouts but also some ibus/fcitx/etc options for selected language. For instance, clicking Japanese invokes suggestions including Anthy, SKK, Mozc. And then basic layout switching keyboard shortcut activates input method for the language of choice. This is what KDE should have too instead of a bunch of settings, configs and kcms here and there.

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  11. My pain point with Samba in KDE is just that it is never worked when I occasionally (around twice a year) need to transfer files between KDE and various Windows PCs on my home network when neither end is a dedicated file share. Whether enabling sharing on Windows or in KDE, I’ve had failures in discovery, connection, password entry, transfer between wired and Wi-Fi devices, … Experience has trained me to use a USB flash drive instead. I’ll see what happens next time I try in 2019.

    To be fair, I’ve had similar problems trying to transfer files between XP/Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 10 thanks to Microsoft’s changes to home networking. And connecting from KDE to my Linux-based NAS drive has always worked well.
    Thanks for all you do!

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  12. That’s nice. But know what ? There is still no good on-screen-keyboard for kde it’s does not work well on wayland and there is no on-screen-keyboard launch when using xorg. It somehow depends on apps when it expected to work as individual app like xvkdb, it can not be resized, and there is no configuration. So if you trying to use kde with touchscreen All you could do is 1) use QT keyboard (have a half of screen occupied when and only when app ask you to type something) or… install some old unmaintained one like onboard or xvkdb kxvkdb….
    So. Could you please do something with it ?

    Like

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