It's sad, because KDE is the best DE ever made. However, Ubuntu and Unity are in the best position to gain significant market share. They're both made by the same company and in the result everything should play nice together. In the long run Fedora and Gnome also seems to become interesting, but default GS sucks and Fedora isn't so good for noobs right now. I wish A. Seigo and the rest from KDE camp to join Canonical.
We were under PulseAudio in both distros, and the exact same thing which worked under GNOME didn't do squat in KDE. That's a problem, and I'm frankly amazed that the desktop environment was causing it.
It didn't. There are very few parts in the desktop environment that has anything to do with your audio. Basicly if you have PulseAudio installed then the only thing that matters in that situation is the mixer interface that you are using. Of course there could be bugs in either KMix or Veromix or your distribution might have packaged them badly. Veromix should list all your audio outputs and changing the output is as easy as draggin the application under the ouput you want to use. But then again you could use the same mixer that Gnome or any other desktop environment is using in KDE without any problems.
Indeed, as you said, as a KDE user since 4.0 I keep looking forward to the next release, because this or that bug got fixed in trunk and is only scheduled for the next release. I install the next release, and new things are broken. It's a pity that you keep feeling the urge to upgrade KDE not because you are happy with you desktop and want those awesome new features, but because something very annoying is broken, and you know/hope they are fixed now.
And then you need to upgrade your distro because many distros don't maintain current KDE versions for older versions. And then the cycle restarts.
File bug reports then, or even start learning how to fix them yourself, then contribute back.
KMix and Veromix may be just awesome, but there was no getting it to pipe audio through the HDMI cable. We dug through sound systems for two hours trying and applying settings to no effect. We took the "engineer's solution" route and killed the problem by installing an alternate distro with the GNOME3 environment, where audio just worked out of the box (Mint 13 with KDE to Mint 13 with GNOME, if you care to know). It wasn't an overabundance of settings that caused the problem - KDE simply failed us. We were under PulseAudio in both distros, and the exact same thing which worked under GNOME didn't do squat in KDE. That's a problem, and I'm frankly amazed that the desktop environment was causing it. Two hours of trying to get something as basic as audio piped to the correct port is more than a fair shake, I'd say.
that is not kde fault per se, for experience with my cambridge speakers in many distros FFMPEG/Pulseaudio/GStreamer combo is a bloody mess (K/ubuntu especially) plus KDE sometimes is just crappy implemented in some distros (K/ubuntu again). so all this togheter became a real mess to fix.
so when dealing with ubuntu variants is better to recompile your stack from git (ffmpeg/pulseaudio/gstreamer) manually including the kernel and that fix must of the issues or migrate to more KDE friendly distros like opensuse/sabayon/arch/gentoo
the same is true for KDE per se, somehow KDE in kubuntu is really buggy and is very crashyish but when you switch to sabayon/gentoo/arch/opensuse it rarely fails(at least for me), so it seems that ubuntu variants distro just care about of gnome when they ninja crappy patch/nerf many packages and just leave KDE in the air(kde network manager in kubuntu how much white hair you gived me?)
KDE people took on too much. They have great ideas, but not ennough manpower. Akonadi, nepomuk, plasma. All great concepts, of which a good implementation is extremely hard. Nepomuk has mostly been a one man show, AFAIK akonadi has 5 people behind it (who are also expected to take care of applications). I love kde for all the great ideas that are there, and am willing to put up with microbugs.
In kde there are always hundreds of things happening at once (Frameworks, QT5, finishing akonadi, nepomuk, wayland in kwin, qtquick2...), no wonder they're always chasing something...
IMO another thing that happened is that way too much effort is going into user interfaces (don't get me wrong, I acknowledge their importance). It's easier to become an UX developer than a behind the scenes dev, if only for the satisfaction of being able to see the result...
I've been a KDE User since 1.x as well and I'm sick and tired of waiting for a stable KDE desktop. Each release brings new bugs and most of the time many regressions as well. The QA of many KDE projects just sucks and due to the lack of a release manager who is willing to delay the release or even revert some applications back to a previous version, KDE will always be buggy.
Stability has always been more important than features but it seems KDE will never understand that.
File bug reports then, or even fix them yourself and then contribute the fixes back to the code. Or do some work to improve the test suite so that you make sure there are tests in place to avoid regressions.
I'm using kde 4.9 beta 2 and it still has the problem that the windowbar plasmoid often has problems shifting the window entries to the left and even displays two entries at the same place. That's not a new problem with the beta. That has been there for a long time and just looks bad.
Also its applications are pretty slow.
twice so everything is in the cache. I understand that dolphin does more than thunar but it's a file manager! The times I only use it to select and open a file I really feel the delay in contrast to thunar opening almost immediately.
About the bugs... There are many and for some lesser bugs it seems to be the same as in gnome. They sit in the bugtracker forever and receive no attention at all.
akregator still segfaults occassionally just sitting idle in the tray, probably while receiving new articles, who knows. For SMBC it receives the entries twice most of the time. It also leaks entries from other feeds into the feed of fefes blog.
It has countless of these minor bugs that are not really blockers but all in all leave a bad impression.
that is not kde fault per se, for experience with my cambridge speakers in many distros FFMPEG/Pulseaudio/GStreamer combo is a bloody mess (K/ubuntu especially) plus KDE sometimes is just crappy implemented in some distros.
Well, it's that crappy implementation which renders it positively alien and undesirable to someone who's used Gnome since 2006. Yes, I'm biased toward Gnome 2 and I know and realize that I'm biased due to my long experience and familiarity with it. I'll own that one so we can get to the truth. But these problems really are deal breakers for new users (which my friend is.)
A few distributions have abandoned KDE lately and I think we should ask ourselves why that is the case. I get Canonical wanting to push Unity (Which behaves remarkably like Gnome 3), but what about the others? There has to be a reason for the exodus we're seeing. Is it the bugs? Maybe it's not being able to get the damned thing to behave without spending a couple of days beating your head against a wall due to shoddy implementations? Not sure. But a "poor implementation" is indistinguishable from a broken product, wouldn't you say?
This is not to say that Gnome isn't equally broken, but I'm used to the Gnome flavor of broken to the point I can't see it anymore unless someone points it out.