Since I switched to an a-data 40x cf from my standard microdrive, I'd noticed that some things were way faster-- in rox , loadingt the contents on /usr/bin, or /usr/share/pixmaps is nearly instant, where with the MD it had shown noticeable lag.
Inspired by the thread on konq-e I loaded kdelibs from the 3.5 ipk (I'll be asking for help with libtool soon, I think) ..then figured I'd load the whole kde and see if there was a difference. It is amazing-- Kde is really viable on my Z (though I Have to remap a key or two--the colon isn't working).
The point is that with low seek times kde menus pop up very nearly as quickly as icewm's do... konqueror opens in kde in 30 seconds (slightly -5-10 seconds less than firefox in icewm --and konqueror loads in about a minute in icwm, btw).
The gtk apps don't seem to load noticeably slower, either.
KDE is actually useable!