KDE Archive

KDE Plasma 6.1 released

After the very successful release of KDE Plasma 6.0, which moved the entire desktop environment and most of its applications over to Qt 6, fixed a whole slow of bugs, and streamlined the entire KDE desktop and its applications, it’s now time for KDE Plasma 6.1, where we’re going to see a much stronger focus on new features. While it’s merely a point release, it’s still a big one. The tentpole new feature of Plasma 6.1 is access to remote Plasma desktops. You can go into Settings and log into any Plasma desktop, which is built entirely and directly into KDE’s own Wayland compositor, avoiding the use of third party applications of hacky extensions to X.org. Having such remote access built right into the desktop environment and its compositor itself is a much cleaner implementation than in the before time with X. Another feature that worked just fine under X but was still missing from KDE Plasma on Wayland is something they now call “persistent applications” – basically, KDE will now remember which windows you had open when you closed KDE or shut down your computer, and open them back up right where you left off when you log back in. It’s one of those things that got lost in the transition to Wayland, and having it back is really, really welcome. Speaking of Wayland, KDE Plasma 6.1 also introduces two major new rendering features. Explicit sync removes flickering and glitches most commonly seen on NVIDIA hardware, while triple buffering provides smoother animations and screen rendering. There’s more here, too, such as a completely reworked edit desktop view, support for controlling keyboard LED backlighting traditionally found in gaming laptops, and more. KDE Plasma 6.1 will find its way to your distribution of choice soon enough, but of course, you can compile and install it yourself, too.

KDE’s Kate on all platforms

Kate, KDE’s programming-focused text editor, is, of course, a Qt application, and is also available on a variety of other platforms. Christoph Cullmann, one of the developers of Kate, published a short blog post with screenshots of Kate running on the three biggest platforms – Linux/BSD, Windows, and macOS. Sadly, while Haiku gets a mention, there’s no screenshot of the Haiku version of Kate. Still, it’s interesting to see the family resemblance.

Plasma 5: the early years

With KDE’s 6th Mega Release finally out the door, let’s reflect on the outgoing Plasma 5 that has served us well over the years. Can you believe it has been almost ten years since Plasma 5.0 was released? Join me on a trip down memory lane and let me tell you how it all began. This coincidentally continues pretty much where my previous retrospective blog post concluded. ↫ Kai Uwe It took them a few years after the release of Plasma 5.0, but eventually they won me over, and I’m now solid in the KDE camp, after well over a decade of either GNOME or Cinnamon. GNOME has strayed far too much away from just being a traditional desktop user interface, and Cinnamon is dragging its heels with Wayland support, but luckily KDE has spent a long time now clearing up so many of the paper cuts that used to plague them every time I tried KDE. That’s all in the past now. They’ve done a solid job cleaning up a lot of the oddities and inconsistencies during Plasma 5’s lifecycle, and I can’t wait until Fedora 40 hits the streets with Plasma 6 in tow. In the desktop Linux world, I feel KDE and Qt will always play a little bit of second fiddle to the (seemingly) much more popular GNOME and GTK+, but that’s okay – this kind of diversity and friendly competition is what makes each of these desktops better for their respective users. And this is the Linux world, after all – you’re not tied down to anything your current desktop environment does, and you’re free to switch to whatever else at a moment’s notice if some new update doesn’t sit well with you. I can’t imagine using something like macOS or Windows where you have to just accept whatever garbage they throw at you with nowhere to go.

Trusting content on the KDE Store

A global theme on the KDE third party store had an issue where it executed a script that removed user’s data. It wasn’t intended as malicious, but a mistake in some shell parsing. It was promptly identified and removed, but not before doing some damage to that user. This has started a lot of discourse around the concept of the store, security and upstream KDE. With the main question how can a theme have access to do this? ↫ David Edmundson That ‘some damage’ was personal data loss, which is quite something to happen after installing a theme. KDE kind of shot itself in the foot here by having something called ‘global themes’, which is a combination of themes for various elements of the desktop, like the application style, icon theme, cursor theme, colour scheme, and so on, but also things like panel layout and even widgets, applets, and other things that can run code. Some of these global themes use shell scripts to implement the more advanced aspects of their themes, and all these things combined means that global themes installed through KDE’s own built-in theme installer can cause some serious damage. The problem is getting some attention now, and I hope they can find a way to make this process more transparent for end users, so people know what they’re getting themselves into. I’m not advocating for dumbing all this stuff down – this isn’t iOS or whatever – but better communication, perhaps clearer labels and warnings are definitely needed.

How to write a QML effect for KWin

In order solve that problem, we started looking for some options and the most obvious one was QtQuick. It’s a quite powerful framework and it’s already used extensively in Plasma. So, in Plasma 5.24, we introduced basic support for implementing kwin effects written in QML and even added a new overview effect. Unfortunately, if you wanted to implement a QtQuick-based effect yourself, you would still have to write a bit of C++ glue yourself. This is not great because effects that use C++ are a distribution nightmare. They can’t be just uploaded to the KDE Store and then installed by clicking “Get New Effects…”. Furthermore, libkwin is a fast moving target with lots of ABI and API incompatible changes in every release. That’s not good if you’re an effect developer because it means you will need to invest a bit of time after every plasma release to port the effects to the new APIs or at least rebuild the effects to resolve ABI incompatibilities. This has been changed in Plasma 6.0. In Plasma 6, we’ve had the opportunity to address that pesky problem of requiring some C++ code and also improve the declarative effect API after learning some lessons while working on the overview and other effects. So, enough of history and let’s jump to the good stuff, shall we? ↫ Vlad Zahorodnii Making it easier to write things like Plasma widgets and Kwin effects is always desirable, and making them easier to distribute is only icing on the cake.

KDE Plasma 6 released

KDE Plasma 6 has been released – and this is an important release with two massive low-level stack upgrades. With Plasma 6, our technology stack has undergone two major upgrades: a transition to the latest version of our application framework, Qt, and a migration to the modern Linux graphics platform, Wayland. We have done our best to ensure that these changes are as smooth and unnoticeable to the users as possible, so when you install this update, you will see the same familiar desktop environment that you know and love. But these under-the-hood upgrades benefit Plasma’s security, efficiency, and performance, and improve support for modern hardware. Thus Plasma delivers an overall more reliable user experience, while paving the way for many more improvements in the future. Aside from this, there’s so much in this release it’s hard to know where to begin. My favourite is the overhaul of KDE’s default Breeze theme, which now uses far, far fewer frames, meaning there’s fewer borders-on-borders. Spacing has also been made more consistent within Breeze. Both of these efforts make KDE applications and UI elements look a bit less cluttered and busy, which, while easily missed if you don’t look for it, certainly cleans things up nicely. Another important improvements is the addition of support for HDR displays and colour management. Plasma on Wayland now has partial support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). On supported monitors and software, this will provide you with richer and deeper colors for your games, videos, and visual creations. Set an ICC profile for each screen individually and Plasma will adjust the colors accordingly. Applications are still limited to the sRGB color space, but we are working on increasing the number of supported color spaces soon. To improve Plasma’s accessibility, we added support for color blindness correction filters. This helps with protanopia, deuteranopia or tritanopia. Of course, this release is accompanied by updates to a large number of KDE applications, and several default settings in KDE have been changed as well to better suit what most users would expect. Plasma Search has been overhauled as well, making it faster and less resource-intensive, and giving users the ability to better control how search results are displayed. There’s a lot more here, so be sure to dive into the release announcement, KDE Plasma 6 will find its way to your distribution or operating system of choice over the coming weeks and months.

An update on HDR and color management in KWin

KWin now supports ICC profiles: In display settings you can set one for each screen, and KWin will use that to adjust the colors accordingly. The Plasma 6 beta is already shipping with that implementation in KWin, and with a few additional steps you can play most HDR capable games in the Wayland session. ↫ Xaver Hugl I’ll admit colour management and HDR is a bit outside my wheelhouse, but I do know both are essentially vital for quite a few digital professions, and that support for them on Wayland specifically has been subpar or missing entirely. It seems progress is being made on these topics, and that’s good news.

KDE Plasma 6.0 goes Wayland by default

Yep you read that right, we’ve decided to throw the lever and go Wayland by default! The three remaining showstoppers are in the process of being fixed and we expect them to be done soon–certainly before the final release of Plasma 6. So we wanted to make the change early to gather as much feedback as possible. Excellent news. Of course, distributions will still be able to opt for the unmaintained, deprecated X.org if they want to, but most distributions will opt for Wayland, as all the major ones have been doing for a while now.

This week in KDE: time for the new features

Another week of KDE Plasma 6 big smashing and new features, and it’s a long list of good stuff. The biggest news this week: The Overview and Desktop Grid effects have been merged together into one, with fluid and natural-feeling touchpad gestures to transition between all states. It’s really awesome work, and also fixed a ton of open bug reports! There’s quite a few other things in here, such as indicators for when the camera is in use in the system tray, fixes for floating panels, improved systemd integration so killing processes when logging out should be less buggy, and a whole lot more.

KDE Gear 23.08.1 improves Dolphin, Gwenview, Kdenlive, and other KDE apps

KDE Gear 23.08.1 comes only three weeks after KDE Gear 23.08 and fixes various issues in several KDE apps, including the Dolphin file manager which now exports the copy location path with native separators on copy operations, and the Gwenview image viewer whose navigation works better with side mouse buttons. The Kdenlive video editor received quite some attention in this release with fixes for a possible crash in the audiolevel widget, broken audio channel setting when opening an existing project file, incorrect saving of default audio channels for a project, a crash on subclip transcoding, and extracting of audio multi-stream clips. There’s way more bug fixes and improvements than these. As always, KDE Gear 23.08.1 will make its way to your distribution soon enough, and of course, if you’re crazy, you can compile it yourself as well.

Plasma 6 to be released in February 2024

A month has passed since the last Plasma 6 status update, so it’s time for another one! First, what you’ve all been waiting for: a release date! We’ve decided that Plasma 6 will be released in early February of 2024. We don’t have a specific day targeted yet, but it’ll be in that timeframe. I’m feeling quite confident that the release will be in excellent shape by then! It’s already in good shape right now. 5 months should provide enough of a runway for a solid final release. Following the development of Plasma 6 has been an interesting ride, and it seems it’s in a good state – and these five months will make it even better.

What we plan to remove in Plasma 6

For KDE Plasma 6, the KDE team intends to remove a number of old features and bits of code that haven’t been touched in ages or simply don’t make sense to keep around. Most of it is truly stuff few will use, but there’s some interesting ones in there that might make some users a little sad. First, they intend to remove the icon view from the settings application, leaving only the sidebar view that’s been the default for a while now. This one bugs me, because I only use the icon view – it’s what I use on every other platform, too. The sidebar view might be more modern, but I find it difficult to find anything in there. The reasoning behind its removal is that the code has simply not been touch in a while, and features like search highlighting aren’t even available in icon view. Second, they’re removing Unsplash integration, which kind of sucks. The reason? AI. This one is quite sad, as no one wanted to remove it. Alas, we had to because Unsplash changed their terms of service to preclude Plasma’s usage of it, as a way of fighting automated data scrapers for AI training models. With a heavy heart, we removed it. So the next time anyone asks you what AI can do for humanity, now you have a concrete answer: prevent Plasma 6 from shipping an Unsplash Picture of the Day wallpaper plugin. Thanks, AI! Third, and I love this one, they’re finally fixing the weird issue where the selected Plasma style would overwrite some of the icons from the system-wide icon theme. This feature originally served the purpose of allowing monochrome icons to be set in Plasma, but this is simply no longer needed and only leads to confusion. There’s a lot more that’s being cleaned up and removed, so take a peek at the list to see if your favourite obscure feature is getting cut. Of course, as Nate Graham notes, if you wish for some of these features to stay – you can pick up the code and work on it.

KDE Plasma 6: “better defaults”

The KDE project just finished up its 2023 developer sprint, and with Plasma 6 development being in full swing – which encompasses moving to Qt 6 – there’s some major announcements here. As a result, we advanced a number of topics that had been stuck for a while. A major area of my focus in this respect became “Better default settings”. The 5 -> 6 transition is the perfect time to make significant changes to the default settings in a way that improve the UX out of the box. The two biggest changes to KDE’s default settings will be moving from single-click to open a file, to double-clicking. Single-clicking to open has been a KDE staple for a long time, but it’s the exact opposite of literally every other major environment, so it makes sense to align this basic interaction with people’s expectations. Of course, this is KDE, so it’ll be a toggle in the same way it is now. The second major change is Wayland by default. While X.org will, of course, still work and be available to distributions and users, Wayland will be KDE’s official recommendation from here on out. With X.org development having pretty much halted completely, and quite a few major distributions now defaulting to Wayland, this is the right move to make. For all the Wayland haters – feel free to donate your time and expertise to X.org development, because no one else is. There’s a few other cool changes coming up, such as the floating panel by default, the accent colour being used in the top parts of windows, and more.

KDE Plasma 5.27 released

KDE Plasma 5.27, a Long Term Support release and the final release in the Plasma 5 series which is based on Qt 5, has been released. Plasma 5.27 brings exciting new improvements to your desktop, and the first thing you’ll notice when firing up Plasma is our new Konqi-powered wizard which will guide you through setting up the desktop. Other big new features include a window tiling system, a more stylish app theme, cleaner and more usable tools, and widgets that give you more control over your machine.

KDE Plasma 5.26 released

Even with a bare-bones installation, Plasma lets you customize your desktop a lot. If you want more, there is always Plasma’s vast ecosystem of widgets. Widgets add features and utilities to the Plasma desktop and today you can find out all the stuff you can do and what’s new for widgets in Plasma 5.26. Widgets are not the only thing to look forward to in Plasma 5.26: check out all the new stuff landing on the desktop designed to make using Plasma easier, more accessible and enjoyable, as well as the two new utilities for Plasma Big Screen, KDE’s interface for smart TVs. KDE is amazing these days, and a joy to use, but they really have an application problem. They still don’t have an e-mail client that doesn’t feel straight out of 2006 (Kmail is a disaster), there’s no modern amenities like Twitter clients, and browsers like Firefox and Chromium clearly feel more at home in a GTK environments than in a Qt environment. Using KDE inevitably means ending up using GTK applications too, at which point I feel like I might as well switch over completely. I wish there was more activity on this front, but I also realise that for the vast majority of KDE users, this isn’t a problem at all.

KDE Plasma 5.25 released

This new version brings many improvements: the accent colour can now be set based on the prominent colour from the current desktop background image (it updates if you use slide-show wallpapers) and it applies to more graphical elements. The global theme settings page lets you pick and choose which parts to apply, and floating panels add a margin all around the panel to make it float while no window is maximised. Touchscreen mode can now be activated by detaching the screen, rotating it 360, or enabling it manually. The overview effect can be activated by gestures on a touchpad or touchscreen, using the same smooth Wayland gestures GNOME has implemented as well. The application page for Discover has been redesigned and gives you links to the application’s documentation and website, and shows what system resources it has access to. Panels can now be navigated with the keyboard, and you can assign custom shortcuts to focus individual panels. And much, much more.

KDE Plasma 5.24 released

Today the KDE Community releases Plasma 5.24, a Long Term Support (LTS) release that will receive updates and bugfixes until the final Plasma 5 version, before we transition to Plasma 6. This new Plasma release focuses on smoothing out wrinkles, evolving the design, and improving the overall feel and usability of the environment. Highlights for this release include: a new overview effect for managing all your desktops and application windows (similar to the overview in GNOME), easy discovery of KRunner features with the help assistant, and unlocking screen and authentication using fingerprint reader. You will also notice a new Honeywave wallpaper, the ability to pick any color for UI accents, and critically important Plasma notifications now come with an orange strip on the side to visually distinguish them from less urgent messages.

KDE developer urges KDE to embrace simplicity by default, without removing features

This is what I think we should shoot for in KDE: software that is simple by default so it can work for 1-dot users, but powerful when needed via expansive customization, so that it can appeal all the way to the 4-dot users–which includes many KDE developers. This is currently a strength of KDE software, and it won’t be going away! Essentially we need to fully embrace Plasma’s motto of “Simple by default, powerful when needed” all KDE software, not just Plasma. Nate Graham, KDE developer, is arguing that KDE needs simpler defaults – without losing the customisability that makes KDE, well, KDE. I think this is a good goal – especially since many distributions can opt for different defaults anyway. KDE is an amazing collection of software, but there’s no denying its plethora of options and customisation can also be intimidating and a little bit overwhelming, even for experienced users such as myself. Of course, this can only really work if the option to tweak every individual pixel remains available for those of us that want it – we don’t need Knome.

Plasma 25th Anniversary Edition released

25 years ago today, Matthias Ettrich sent an email to the de.comp.os.linux.misc newsgroup explaining a project he was working on. The latest and direct result of that email (plus a quarter of a century of relentless experimentation, development and innovation) has just landed in KDE’s repositories. This time around, Plasma renews its looks and, not only do you get a new wallpaper, but also a gust of fresh air from an updated theme: Breeze – Blue Ocean. The new Breeze theme makes KDE apps and tools not only more attractive, but also easier to use both on the desktop and your phone and tablet. Of course, looks are not the only you can expect from Plasma 25AE: extra speed, increased reliability and new features have also found their way into the app launcher, the software manager, the Wayland implementation, and most other Plasma tools and utilities. Except for 1.0, I’ve used every release of KDE extensively, and its developers have every right to be damn proud of the amazing collection of frameworks and applications they’ve built. As with everything, KDE is not for everyone, but there’s no denying it’s a versatile, attractive, extensible, and fun to use environment.