Making KDEPIM less annoying

I’ve started looking into KDEPIM 4.6 on Kubuntu Natty to see if it can be made less annoying to use. There are two unpopular dialogs which appear when using KDEPIM. Both are telling the user that essential PIM services are not fully operational.

The essential PIM services are Akonadi and Nepomuk. Akonadi provides access to all PIM data (emails, contacts, events etc) the user has. It is started automatically if using a PIM application like KMail2, KAddressBook, KOrganizer, KJots and more. There is no configuration option to turn Akonadi off. Akonadi is a cache server which uses a database like MySQL or SQLite to cache data.

Nepomuk provides indexing and searching capabilities to the PIM infrastructure. If you want to search your email, or use autocompletion when typing in email addresses, you need Nepomuk. These are currently considered essential features for a useful PIM stack, so Akonadi depends on Nepomuk being operational. Unfortunately it can be turned off, and when it is off, that’s when the user gets the two unpopular dialogs.

There may be a case for coming up with a unified framework for how services can depend on each other and give the user the opportunities to start essential dependent services. It might be something to discuss at the Platform 11 sprint.

However, there are things we can change in the short-term that can benefit the user. For one, I’ve turned one of the annoying dialogs into a passive notification using KNotification.

A notification is less annoying than a dialog

Next I’ll have to consider how to show the other annoying dialog only when attempting to search or autocomplete email addresses…

17 Responses to “Making KDEPIM less annoying”

  1. Rasi Says:

    If one doesnt need those features other than for kdepim, why not make both services start with kdepim and disable them after kdepim isnt active anymore?

  2. Diogo Piçarra Says:

    You could add a button to that notification to open the nepomuk configuration or to enable nepomuk… or both.

  3. masturmix Says:

    There’s a better way to make Nepomuk and Akonadi less annoying, and is to fix them. Clever, right?

  4. steveire Says:

    masturmix, that is the idea of course. We are fixing them.

  5. Beat Wolf Says:

    when will this be integrated into kde? 4.7?

  6. uetsah Says:

    “Unfortunately it can be turned off”

    No, this is not unfortunate, on the contrary.

    Without the ability to disable the strigi indexer, KDE would be unusable on a lot of slighly older hardware.

  7. Øyvind Sæther Says:

    This sounds like good news, I used kmail for many years. I’ve switched to claws-mail since that actually works and does not pop up annoying messages about “akonadi is a pile of crap” and “nepomuk is a buggy pile of dung” when I start it. The akonadi message always appers when starting kmail from outside KDE, and I use xfce now because all KDEs “autohide” feature does is hide the panel initially before popping it up – and most of the time it says up until you restart kdeplasma (the bug report says this will be fixed in 4.6.2, perhaps that version will be usable). It’s good to read the progress is being made on kdepim, because as of now it’s in a state where KDE basically does not have a (working) KDEPIM suite.

  8. kdenutter Says:

    I am beginning to really enjoy Akonadia, Nepomuk and Strigi but it’s been a long HARD struggle.

    If only someone on the KDE team would create a tutorial for running them. I see lots of web blogs and pages with Nepo on them but it may only tell you what it does, not how to do it.

    Another site may say how to start Nepomuk, but nothing else. It’s all bits and pieces and none of them are a “whole”‘ I truly believe people aren’t sticking with KDE – or are running it at 50% – because they can’t grasp how to use the desktop.

    PLEASE, please, some tutorials.

  9. Hans Says:

    Nice work! I still don’t find the message very useful though:

    1. It’s repeated several times that Nepomuk has been disabled (/is not available/is not fully operational/is not running), but it doesn’t say how to fix the problem other than giving a link.

    2. The text is cut off in the screenshot, “Therefore indexi…”.

    Can’t we try to cut down the text a bit and focus on the important parts, i.e. the things the user is interested in? I’m not a GUI expert but I would write something like this:

    * State the problem – “Desktop Search is not enabled.”¹
    * How it affects the user – Not sure how to word this, but something like “Desktop Search is required to index all data stored in the Akonadi PIM Storage Service and is essential for searching, autocompletion and other useful features. Without Desktop Search the capabilities of any application using this data will be severely limited.”
    * How to solve the problem – “You can try to enable Nepomuk Semantic Desktop in the Desktop Search module in System Settings”² and a button to take you to the module.
    * If it doesn’t work – “Additional help can be found at: http://userbase.kde.org/Akonadi


    ¹ I don’t like to use the term “Nepomuk Indexing Agents” or “Nepomuk Semantic Desktop”, but a more specific term than Desktop Search might be needed.
    ² Here I use the term “Nepomuk Semantic Desktop” because that’s what the module in System Settings says.

  10. nnonix Says:

    “I truly believe people aren’t sticking with KDE – or are running it at 50% – because they can’t grasp how to use the desktop”

    I agree. Hell, just the content of that dialog (and others) are a mess, regardless of it’s meaning. “not available or fully operational”? Here I though there were usability experts working on KDE?

  11. TheBlackCat Says:

    @ uetsah: strigi and nepomuk are not the same thing. You can have nepomuk on without strigi.

  12. Kevin Krammer Says:

    @Rasi: that’s already partially the case, i.e. Akonadi only starts when something attempts to access it.

    In the case of Nepomuk this is one of the ideas Stephen is describing, i.e. having a way to start a runtime dependency even if it is usually autostarted by the session but this autostarting has been disabled.

  13. Anon Says:

    “If you want to search your email, or use autocompletion when typing in email addresses, you need Nepomuk. These are currently considered essential features for a useful PIM stack”

    So essential, that pretty much every PIM suite in existence uses them, including ones that don’t require a database process sucking up 50MB of memory to be running continuously. Surely some non-Nepomuk-based fallback for these tasks (which worked fine in KDE3) is possible? Using Nepomuk for these ubiquitous, common tasks just seems like using a nuclear warhead to crack a walnut.

  14. damian Says:

    @anon, Maybe right now it looks like a nuclear warhead, but the objetive is to make it smaller and more efficient I guess, so that it conserves the power of nepomuk, and sharing data between applications, and the lightness of old kde3 technologies.
    A lot of work should go to improve nepomuk performance, it’s already awesome, but it needs some serius performance work,
    Stuff like only loading on ram what’s needed by the current app, so that it doesn’t eat 100mb of ram if no app is using it (happened to me when using bangarang)
    Also removing stuff from the database(AFAIK it only can grow).
    1 detail about this where’s the documentation for helping the development, I could only found stuff for implementing nepomuk, not so much info on how it works on the core to help fixing it.

  15. Links /4/2011: Mourning Mozilla Messaging, Celebrating Simple Java API for ODF | Techrights Says:

    […] Making KDEPIM less annoying […]

  16. John Wilson Says:

    I’m sure that this is no news but, I, among others, am abandoning KMail2.x now and probably forever. I’ve HAD to turn off nepomuck due to massive resource use, akonodai keeps popping up an undocumented Conflict Resolution dialog box that most people would think was filled with junk. And most of it is until you finally get down to the actual email that’s caused the problem what with all the headers and stuff to wade through first.

    The reason, it seems, for all of this is the migration scripts during install fail to run properly, if at all, which certainly shows they weren’t tested well before being moved from RC to production status.

    I’m frustrated, angry and sad at this because this Kmail/Kontact WAS and I mean WAS the best and most configurable and usable MY way email programs there was. Most of that is now gone. What I seem to have left is a Conflict Resolution dialog which doesn’t tell me anything and crashed the program. And this got out of testing??? Sorry, but it never, ever should have.

  17. joe Says:

    I just want to know how to disable and completely delete/remove *everything* related to nepomuk, akonadi, soprano, and *all* indexing and indexes so that no trace of any of it ever appears or reappears on my systems. How can I do that?

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