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If only they would just let you TURN IT THE FUCK OFF.
Step 1: alt+f2
Step 2: kquitapp plasma-desktop
Problem solved, gramps.
krunner. Learn it. Use it. Love it.
Both have a panel on the bottom with a start menu on the left and a system tray on the right. That's pretty much as deep as most non-users see and thus the reputation. Somehow, somewhere, the message that even if KDE picks some defaults, they're all changeable and customizable seems to have gotten lost.
I usually put my panel on the top, center it and shrink it to maybe 50% of the desktop width. That way, there's two areas to the left and right of the panel where there's empty space (even when windows are full screened). These areas are extremely handy to change the desktop by scrolling.
Regarding the ctrl+v and rightclick-paste comment, it's quite simple to 'fix' this. There's an x clipboard and there's a system clipboard. You can sync them using klipper (the thing that looks like a pair of scissors in the kde system tray). If sync'd, you can copy by selection or copy by ctrl+c and pasting (ctrl+v) always pastes the last copied thing.
Your complaint is valid, though, in that middle-clicking pastes only what you selected and copied, not what you ctrl+c'd. My solution to this is simple: use select/paste. Use ctrl+c/v only if you plan on selecting multiple things which you don't plan on adding to your "clipboard".
1. Resize Konsole on Nvidia. Kernel panic.
Others have mentioned that this is nvidia's territory. kde, particularly kwin works around many of bugs in video card drivers, but for now, the best thing to do might be to use nouveau, instead of nvidia.
2. Change network config, watch kded consume 100% CPU.
kded is supposed to be a single daemon that watches over multiple things like when someone pops in a disk or whatever. There's a recent blog by a kde dev on planetkde identifying that this is a single-point failure prone design as any one of the tasks it's doing could hang it entirely. I don't really have a fix for this one. It's quite rare and when it does happen, I usually end up logging out and back in.
3. Unplug, go to power saving profile, watch panel lose transparency, have to clean out
Okay, this one made me laugh. The reason why your panel became opaque is because kde switched your power profile when running on battery. This power profile probably disables desktop effects. You can keep desktop effects enabled (On an eepc 1015, I don't see a significant difference in battery life eitherway) and change other things by going to System Settings and looking in the power kcm.
4. Connect to an SMB share with Dolphin and watch it crash every single time.
Haven't seen this one and can't reproduce it. I have seen Dolphin choke on smb domains with spaces in their names, though.
Your point is valid --- while the fundamentals are strong, kde definitely needs more polish.
In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton