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  • KDE Plasma 5.17 released, and it's glorious

    Posted on Ascaris Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems Linux – all distros KDE Plasma 5.17 released, and it's glorious

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      • #1982467 Reply

        KDE Plasma 5.17, which I have been trying out for a few weeks in the Neon Developer stable testing edition, was just released, and it’s really good.  Qt 5.13.1 was released in the KDE repository a short while ago, and the combination between that and Plasma 5.17 produces a KDE Plasma desktop that starts faster and works better with nVidia cards while using the proprietary driver, which used to cause visual artifacts after waking from sleep mode.  No more!

        Plasma is so good now that I am really thinking of making KDE my recommended desktop go-to when people ask for suggestions.  I didn’t do that before because of the general bugginess of Plasma, but the KDE devs have been working hard at making Plasma easier to live with, in terms of memory footprint, speed, and the number of bugs.  They’ve revamped the audio subsection to be simpler without being less useful or effective, and the desktop starts noticeably faster than before.

        How fast this update will be rolled out to distros other than Neon is not something I know.  Some distros, like Manjaro, will probably get it pretty quickly, while the LTS editions of Kubuntu will probably lag behind unless you use the backports PPA.  Neon is an Ubuntu-based distro that’s seen by its developers as not really a distro so much as a showcase for the latest and greatest KDE software, but it’s Ubuntu underneath the skin, and it works very well as a general-use distro while showcasing KDE’s stuff at the same time.

        There have been a few annoyances in the past as not quite ready versions of some of KDE’s products were released a bit early, but the flip side of that is that the many bug fixes that KDE has been pumping out arrive sooner too.  I get more excited about fixes for bugs than I do for new features, most of the time, and that nVidia one in particular is huge to me.  The smoothing out of the audio subsystem (the UI before was confusing and redundant in places) and the faster start are welcome too, and the function of Windows tray icons under WINE now works the same way as the program would under Windows with the Kwin compositor enabled.  The integration of the GTK Breeze theme (for running GTK programs, like Firefox) into the Qt-themed Breeze desktop is really nice, making GTK programs look more at home in KDE than UWP apps look in Windows 10 compared to the desktop programs.

        If you would like to give it a try, the Neon user edition with Plasma 5.17 and Qt 5.13.1 is now available from KDE.  It has more custom options than any other desktop for Linux, but it’s well-presented and shouldn’t be too daunting for beginners, hopefully.  It’s not a desktop aimed at total computer neophytes, but if you’re aware of how the desktop metaphor of a PC desktop works in a general sense, it might be worth a try.  If you’re a power user type, I can think of nothing better… it has more stuff to tweak and modify than anything else out there.

        Kudos to the KDE devs for the great work.

        Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1984211 Reply
        AskWoody Plus


        Does this new version of KDE allow for a continuous adjustment, with a slider, of the size of folder icons and screen buttons, or still only has only two settings, as Cinnamon?

        I have Mint, but it being a fork of  Ubuntu, as is Neon, this upgraded version of KDE might become available also for Mint, some time in the not too distant future.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        • #1984324 Reply

          KDE Plasma does have fractional scaling, yes.  Please have a look at the screenshot… it’s the global scaling option.  The color scheme you can see is my easy-on-the-eyes one with the light gray background.  All colors can be set individually.


          As for it being offered on Mint… well, Mint did have an official KDE flavor at one point, but it was discontinued after the Mint 18.x releases. I really wish Mint had kept KDE, but as the owners of the Cinnamon project, which is based in GTK+, I can see why they would want to stick with what is closer to home developmentally.  All of the desktop environments now offered by Mint (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce) use GTK+, while KDE uses Qt.

          At present, a quick glance at the packages in the Ubuntu Bionic (18.04) updates repo, the one used by Mint, shows Qt 5.9.5 and Plasma 5.12.9, both several major point releases behind Neon.  It’s quite possible that Qt 5.13.1 and Plasma 5.17.0 will never filter down to Bionic, as the whole point of LTS releases is to go slow.

          That was why I switched from Kubuntu to Neon… normally I would be inclined to go for stable and slow rather than anything closer to the bleeding edge, but since so many of KDE’s changes were bugfixes or changes to the bits of KDE that were really bothersome to me, I wanted them sooner rather than later.  Neon is an interesting combination of the slow, stable approach for the underlying Ubuntu core, but with the latest releases KDE has to offer for their software.

          You could always download Neon and try it from a USB drive.  I would suggest creating a persistent session, though, as the live session won’t allow you to test the scaling feature.  If you like it, it might be worth the effort to make the move.

          You could try to convert your existing installation by adding the Neon repo to your Mint and installing Plasma from there, but the odds of something going wrong are quite high, and if you are not okay with having to then fix that to get to where you want to be, it would be simpler and less frustrating to do a fresh install.  Of course, have backups before trying anything like this!

          Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1999088 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        I switched over to Plasma from MATE on my work PC after MATE botched their transition to GTK3. I’ve been using kwin for years now so this seemed like the logical thing to do. I gotta say I’ve fallen in love, and it just keeps getting better. Eventually when I redo my Arch install at home, I’ll be switching to Plasma there too.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
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