KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer

Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress


Review Plasma 5, released last week, is a major redesign of the Unix KDE desktop environment and underlying frameworks.

Perhaps the most notable difference is the visual changes, which see KDE embracing a more streamlined, "flat" interface, but it's also the first version of KDE to be powered by Qt 5 and the recently released KDE Frameworks 5.

Qt was the interface development framework bought and then dumped by Nokia, whose mobile phone business is now owned by Microsoft.

The visual changes and the polish that's been added to the default Plasma theme is welcome - frankly the default KDE 4 theme has been looking long in the tooth for a while now - but it's the under-the-hood changes will have a bigger impact on the future of KDE.

Another big feature is a "converged shell", which is an attempt to realize a unified desktop and device future very similar to the goals of Ubuntu's Unity shell. The idea is the interface adapts to the hardware - the shell would select Plasma 5 for a laptop but run it on a tablet and it would change to a tablet-based interface. The "converged shell" will be able to select a "shell” as the device changes.

The canonical example is a touch interface on a tablet that switches to a more suitable interface when you plug in a keyboard. It's a little unclear from the KDE docs what happens if you want to use the touch interface and a keyboard, but presumably that's possible as well.

For the moment there's only the Plasma 5 desktop anyway, so all we have is the vision. KDE developers are working on the tablet interface along with an interface for a media centre – but neither are available for general use.

The release of Plasma 5 also completes the migration of the Plasma workspace to Qt 5 and QtQuick, which uses a hardware-accelerated OpenGL scenegraph to render graphics. That means KDE can take advantage of the powerful GPUs in today's devices and offload some of the more expensive graphical tasks to GPUs. On supported hardware this should give you a bit of a speed bump, particularly when doing other graphics intensive tasks like editing photos or video.

KDE Plasma 5 kickoff menu

KDE Plasma 5 kickoff menu

The re-vamped Kickoff app launcher is missing a search field

The changes to the graphics stack and underlying Frameworks also pave the way for KDE to support Wayland, which will be "part of an upcoming release."

Plasma 5 also claims improved support for HiDPI displays, but I was unable to get this working in a virtual machine on a Retina MacBook. I've yet to determine whether this is a problem in Plasma 5, Kubuntu 14.04, down to the fact it's a virtual machine or some combination of the three.

I tested KDE with Plasma 5 in Kubuntu 14.04. When you install a fresh copy of KDE Plasma 5 on your favourite distro the thing that jumps out at you won't be better graphics or the potential to switch interfaces based on hardware. What will jump out at you is the new "Breeze" theme.

Gone are the shiny, candy-like icons and darker textured grays in Plasma 4. Instead you'll find a lighter, brighter, flatter design aesthetic with a lot of monochrome icons, thinner looking type and frosted, slightly transparent windows.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • What's the big deal with service meshes? Think of them as SDN at Layer 7

    A technical yet demystifying dive into networking tech you now can't avoid

    Systems Approach I remember when I first heard about Service Meshes in 2017, and wondering what the big deal was. Building cloud applications as a graph of microservices was commonplace, and telcos were hard at work inventing yet other ways to chain together virtualized network functions. Service graphs, service chains, service meshes… how many ways do we really need to talk about composing complex systems from a collection of smaller components?

    It wasn’t until I recognized a familiar pattern that I got it: a Service Mesh is just SDN at Layer 7. That’s probably what happens when SDN is the hammer you keep hitting nails with, but I’ve come to believe there is value in that perspective.

    The figure below highlights the similarities between the two scenarios, both of which include a centralized controller that issues directives to a distributed set of connectors (physical/virtual switches in one case, and a sidecar container in the other case) — based on a combination of policy intents from above and monitoring data reported from below. The primary difference is that the SDN controller on the left is controlling L2/3 connectivity and the Service Mesh on the right is controlling L7 connectivity.

    Continue reading
  • Mars race: China dreams of nuclear rockets, manned bases, and space elevators

    We're looking forward to the late 21st-century colony wars

    Over the next quarter century, China wants to set up a permanent base on Mars for "large scale development of the Red Planet," and install a sci-fi carbon-nanotube elevator to shuttle goods between the surface and spacecraft in orbit.

    That’s according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), the country’s largest rocket maker, which described a road-map outlining the Middle Kingdom's ambition to explore the unforgiving dust world. Missions to Mars are planned for 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041, and 2043 quite possibly using nuclear-propelled spacecraft.

    In a speech, CALT’s President Wang Xiaojun said his state-owned organization first intends to send robots to Mars to collect samples of material to study back on Earth. These machines will also scout out good locations to develop a human settlement.

    Continue reading
  • Bridging the observability gap

    Trace the journey through all those microservices in the background

    Sponsored In modern IT, visibility is everything. IT admins and Site Reliability Engineers (SRE) survive on their ability to see what's happening in their systems. Unfortunately, as systems get more sophisticated, it has become harder to see what they're doing. That's why the industry is promoting observability as the evolution of existing concepts like monitoring and metrics. Vendors are stepping up with tools to address a growing visibility gap.

    Continue reading
  • Google: About that whole getting rid of third-party cookies thing – we're gonna need another year or so

    Plan to reinvent advertising turns out to be more difficult than expected

    Google, which makes the only major browser not blocking third-party cookies by default, has revised its commitment to phase out third-party cookies by 2022.

    The super-corp's biscotticide is now scheduled to begin in mid-2023 and run through late 2023.

    Third-party cookies refer to tracking files deposited in one's browser when visiting a website that includes code interacting with third-party domains. The firms associated with these domains, typically marketing and analytics businesses, check for the presence of their cookies across different websites and use this information to build marketing profiles and to target ads based on behavior.

    Continue reading
  • These six proposed bipartisan antitrust laws put Big Tech in the cross-hairs – and a House committee just OK'd them

    Well, it's a start

    The US House Judiciary Committee this week approved half a dozen major bipartisan antitrust bills aimed at clamping down on the growing power of Big Tech and its monopolization of some markets.

    The panel, led by Jerry Nadler (D-NY), debated for nearly 30 hours on Wednesday and Thursday to advance the wide-sweeping six-bill package. The proposed laws includes all sorts of measures to prevent companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and others from dominating their sectors of the technology industry.

    There was likely plenty of lobbying and other wrangling going on in the back and foreground over the exact wording of the package. For instance, there was a concern by some lawmakers that Microsoft would end up avoiding certain provisions in the proposed acts that would otherwise hit Google and Apple. Tweaks were made – such as removing "mobile" from "mobile operating system" in the fine-print – to ensure no one was wriggling out.

    Continue reading
  • You won't want that Linux bling if it comes from Pling: Marketplace platform has critical vulnerabilities

    No one wants to be pwned by a drive-by RCE

    A Berlin startup has disclosed a remote-code-execution (RCE) vulnerability and a wormable cross-site-scripting (XSS) flaw in Pling, which is used by various Linux desktop theme marketplaces.

    Positive Security, which found the holes and is not to be confused with Russia’s Positive Technologies, said the bugs are still present in the Pling code and its maintainers have not responded to vulnerability reports.

    Pling presents itself as a marketplace for creative folk to upload Linux desktop themes and graphics, among other things, in the hope of making a few quid from supporters. It comes in two parts: code needed to run your own bling bazaar, and an Electron-based app users can install to manage their themes from a Pling souk. The web code has the XSS in it, and the client has the XSS and an RCE. Pling powers a bunch of sites, from pling.com and store.kde.org to gnome-look.org and xfce-look.org.

    Continue reading
  • Would-be password-killer FIDO Alliance aims to boost uptake with new UX guidelines

    Throws a bone to complex enterprise deployment, too

    The FIDO Alliance, which operates with no smaller mission than to "reduce the world's over-reliance on passwords", has announced the release of new user experience (UX) guidelines aimed at bringing the more technophobic on board.

    Launched back in 2013 as the Fast Identity Online Alliance, the FIDO Alliance aims to do away with passwords altogether through the introduction of standards-compliant "authenticators" including USB security dongles, fingerprint readers, Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) and more.

    While the organisation's standards, which were updated with the launch of FIDO2 in 2018, have enjoyed adoption in the majority of web browsers and with a range of companies, they're still seen as unusual and even inconvenient compared to the good ol' username and password combo – which is where the new UX guidelines come in.

    Continue reading
  • UK's Vodafone network runs trials on standalone 5G in London, Manchester and Cardiff

    These are networks that are not dragged down by LTE core

    Vodafone has launched 5G SA (Standalone) trials in London, Manchester, and Cardiff in its largest test of the technology yet.

    The commercial launch has allowed the carrier to experiment with new ways to commercialise its network, including network slicing – where a portion of network is dedicated to a specific customer for their exclusive use. It will also allow customers to test 5G SA devices on a live, public network.

    Vodafone selected Ericsson's dual-mode 5G core network as the dedicated provider for this trial. It follows trials at Coventry University in 2020, and a separate trial in Spain.

    Continue reading
  • What you need to know about Microsoft Windows 11: It will run Android apps

    The operating system they said shouldn't exist

    Microsoft on Thursday announced Windows 11, or tried to as an uncooperative video stream left many viewers of the virtual event flummoxed by intermittent transmission gaps in the opening minutes.

    The technical issues proved bad enough that Matt Velloso, Technical Advisor to the CEO at Microsoft, suggested trying the YouTube video stream as an alternative to the Microsoft-hosted one.

    But with some of the features already known as a result of a leaked build last week, the impact of the intermittent video dropouts was less than it might have been.

    Continue reading
  • Russia spoofed AIS data to fake British warship's course days before Crimea guns showdown

    Great powers clash while the rest of us sigh and tut at data feed meddling

    Russia was back up to its age-old spoofing of GPS tracks earlier this week before a showdown between British destroyer HMS Defender and coastguard ships near occupied Crimea in the Black Sea.

    Yesterday Defender briefly sailed through Ukrainian waters, triggering the Russian Navy and coastguard into sending patrol boats and anti-shipping aircraft to buzz the British warship in a fruitless effort to divert her away from occupied Crimea's waters.

    Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has occupied parts of the region, mostly in the Crimean peninsula, ever since. The UK and other NATO allies do not recognise Ukraine as enemy-held territory so Defender was sailing through an ally's waters – and doing so through a published traffic separation scheme (similar to the TSS in the English Channel), as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed this afternoon.*

    Continue reading
  • Lego bricks, upcycled iPhone lenses used in new low-cost, high-res microscope

    Full instructions given away for free, to 'nurture natural curiosity'

    A trio of boffins at the Georg August University Göttingen and Münster University have put together a low-cost yet high-resolution microscope for educational users – using smartphone parts and Lego bricks.

    "An understanding of science is crucial for decision-making and brings many benefits in everyday life, such as problem-solving and creativity," said Timo Betz, professor at the University of Göttingen and co-author of the paper detailing the project. “Yet we find that many people, even politicians, feel excluded or do not have the opportunities to engage in scientific or critical thinking.

    "We wanted to find a way to nurture natural curiosity, help people grasp fundamental principles and see the potential of science."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021