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04 July 2013, 10:46

LXDE previews Qt port of its desktop

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Zoom The LXDE-Qt port already provides a functioning desktop
Source: LXDE Project

The LXDE developers are working on a Qt-based version of their desktop and have already ported significant parts of the components of LXDE to the user interface framework. While still in an experimental state, the developers could already show a functional desktop with the panel, PCManFM file manager and an image viewer in a working state. Most of the desktop's applets work with the ported panel as well.

The developers say that they have not stopped development on the GTK+ 2 version of LXDE and that the Qt version is currently a side project. Being faced with an eventual transition from GTK+ 2, which is no longer being developed in the upstream project, to GTK+ 3, it seems the project is hedging its bets with the Qt port. According to the developers, resource usage of the Qt port is comparable with that of a potential GTK+ 3 port and only manifests a "mild elevation of memory usage" over the current GTK+ 2 based version. It is clear however that the project maintainers prefer a switch to Qt over a move to GTK+ 3 and the current Qt port can be seen as a further step on that road.

LXDE-Qt, as the port is called, is currently using Qt 4. Due to some changes to the X11-related APIs in Qt 5.0, the developers say they will wait until the recently released Qt 5.1 is adopted by distributions. The LXDE team also wants to sit out teething troubles in the imminent switch to Wayland, something the Qt and Wayland teams have been working on for a while. The plan is to wait for the GNOME and KDE developers to fix underlying problems with the interaction between Qt and the Wayland display server before upgrading LXDE to a Qt version that works correctly with Wayland.

While the PCManFM port has "most of the features" of the GTK+ version and is "almost ready for daily use", the developers say that other parts of the Qt-based desktop still need more work. The code for LXDE-Qt is available in the LXDE Git repository, but the developers caution that it "is not ready for a new stable release" and is still under heavy development. There is currently no roadmap for an official release of LXDE-Qt and it has not been decided if, or when, it will replace the current GTK+ version of the desktop.


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