Monthly Archives: June 2011

How can I be a KDE power user?

As far as I can tell, KDE is essentially a desktop environment shell layered on top of many very useful libraries. The difficulty is, how does one test each individual layer?

Here’s a recent example. I started by using Amarok as my music player, a default choice it seems for many KDE users. I put an audio CD in the drive, and it appeared in Amarok. When I tried to play or rip the CD, though, the interface just wouldn’t respond.

Fast-forward many, many hours later, and I’ve traced the issue through logs spit out by Amarok, Phonon, Kscd, gstreamer, ffmpeg, and the kernel itself, and I narrow the issue down to KDE I/O layer. cdparanoia reads disks just fine. No KDE-based app can. There’s a lot of seek errors in the kernel logs, which appear only when a KDE-based app is up and running with a CD in the drive.

So what’s the big deal, you might ask? I figured it out. What’s the problem?

Perhaps I’m spoiled, but in GNOME I debugged issues quite differently. If I had an issue, I’d go through each API layer, and use each one’s executables. Note the difference between KDE and GNOME: GNOME makes every layer, every setting easy to access, if you look for it. KDE gives you everything at once, and hides everything else in a wall of libraries. There’s no intermediate executables I can use to debug each layer, by manually running through steps myself. There’s no ability to get a work-around, or to helpfully narrow down the area where the bug exists for Google searching.

How do I make my debugging with KDE more productive? What steps do I take? How have you debugged KDE-based applications? I know about the KDE wiki page, but is there anything else?