Has gotten worse, I am afraid.
OK, the panel crashes are my fault, apparently from kde3 applets I am using.
They did give such problems in the very old kde4 versions but have been just
fine until today's upgrade. Also, that 0,-54 position of the panel is now
showing up and maybe causing crashes as well. I will deal with that by hand,
Luckily, by /opt/kde3.5 is still around and I and other family users can run
this without a hitch. This is really necessary when the new one is so
volatile, almost snapshots rather than "milestones" or upgrades.
I also tried the new kmail 4.074 which is actually based on an older version
that the kde3.5.6! Looks fine but since it did not eat all the settings and
canceled the sessions, I tried to reenter them. The configure kmail dialog is
empty. So I removed kmail4.074 and my 3.5 kmail is still doing the job. I
reentered the session info there or could have copied it from .kde. This one
was yet not ready to post.
Running kde3 again, it simply looks much nicer. Icon sizes and text labels
work better, overall panel composition (ignoring the funny placements of the
last couple of days) looks nicer. And the desktop functionality such as
creating new device icons (and having them function) is still not there in
kde4. All the resizing, rotations and other stuff is of limited value if one
cannot get icon sizes and text labels to coordinate nicely.