They recently forced us at work to upgrade from Ubuntu 10.04 to 12.04. We have our choice of desktop environments (Gnome 3, KDE 4, XFCE 4, Cinnamon, Unity).
I spend my day in a combination of Chrome, the terminal, and Eclipse.
I have determined that KDE is the least bad of all of these alternatives. There are actually things that I like about it, too.
- Konsole has a lot of nice features, such as activity notification on tabs in the background
- The volume buttons on my headset actually work (this was not the case for XFCE)
- Bluetooth actually works
- I can have a traditional taskbar
- You can turn off the more flashy desktop effects
- Built-in dark color theme for the Oxygen theme (large areas of white on my 30" monitor are distracting)
- I can apply the dark Qt/KDE theme to GTK+ applications, including Eclipse
- General lack of polish. This is my #1 complaint about KDE, and it's everywhere. The text on my window list buttons is too low, and on the clock it's too high. The "AM" or "PM" on the clock is cut off. Text on buttons has virtually zero top/bottom padding, which looks bad. UI elements are inconsistently aligned. UI strings are often awkwardly phrased.
- Verbosity. I don't need to be notified every time I plug in a USB device, every time the power state of my machine changes, every time the network status changes, every time a file operation completes, every time a daemon crashes, or every time the desktop indexer is done. You can disable pretty much all of these notifications, but to some degree it's like playing whac-a-mole.
- Crashiness. Sometimes, daemons decide to crash randomly. Occasionally, the compositor goes crazy and locks up the entire desktop.
- Insane defaults. Preferences are nice, but they need to be set to reasonable values by default. For example, there are *way* too many global key bindings by default, the eye candy is set to an annoyingly high level by default, single-click select in file dialogs contradicts every other desktop, the default panel is huge, and a whole ton of other things.
- No good system monitor widget. GNOME 2.x had an awesome panel widget that would display CPU, network, and memory; it even displayed I/O wait CPU time in a different color, which was awesome.
- The cashew. It makes no sense, and you can't get rid of it.
If I could have GNOME 2.x back, I would. But KDE 4.x is the best of the current bunch.