KDE Community releases Plasma 5.24: It's eccentric, just like many old-timers

New version of the desktop brings in major new features to rival GNOME

The new release of KDE's Plasma desktop brings a GNOME Shell-like instant overview and other improvements.

KDE is fairly mature now. The FOSS community was founded in 1996, allowing it to call last year's Plasma release, 5.23, the 25th Anniversary Edition. KDE 1.0 came out in 1998, making it the first FOSS desktop for Linux. It does also support FreeBSD, although not always the latest version.

It will take a while for distro vendors to incorporate the latest Plasma, but if you want to try it out in the meantime, it's already included in Neon, which is effectively the project's showcase distro.

KDE Neon overview

Click to enlarge

The new overview feature may win some new users. It's a full-screen app switcher and launcher, which resembles Mac OS X's Exposé and Spotlight, or the GNOME Shell Activities view.

At the top of the screen there are live miniatures of all virtual desktops; beneath that, an inconspicuous KRunner search box; and beneath that, live previews of all the open windows on the current virtual desktop.

KRunner does more than just finding and running apps, it can also do arithmetic, units and currency conversions, full-text document search and more, and it's extensible by plugins. For now, Overview is in beta and must be manually enabled.

KDE is a positively venerable environment, pre-dating Windows 98. Like many old-timers, it's a little eccentric in places. For example, every application's Help menu has two separate "About" options. One is for the KDE environment as a whole (but doesn't contain any version information), and the other is for the app (which may contain a version number, such as 5.24, or a date, such as 21.2.1).

Many components, including Dolphin file manager and System Settings control panel, have been modernised and no longer include menu bars, just hamburger menus – but some accessories, such as text editors, still have the traditional layout.

KDE vertical taskbar

Click to enlarge

Changes like these mean the environment's look and feel isn't quite as consistent as it once was. Arguably, that's one of the prices of modernisation. Despite its maturity, some things still don't work as well as we'd like to see. For instance, making the panel vertical but wide results in the clock and buttons becoming huge: rather than fitting more controls into the extra space, they scale to fit. Xfce handles this much more elegantly.

Still, as long as how you want to tweak your setup fits with the ways that KDE's developers planned, it's a stable, mature, and complete desktop, and the new version adds one of the killer features that many GNOME fans can't live without. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022