KDE 6 misses boat to make it into Kubuntu 24.04
'Noble Numbat' users will face a major post-install upgrade, which isn't ideal
The next major release of KDE Plasma is getting close, but not close enough for the next major Ubuntu release.
The Kubuntu developers have posted an update about their plans over the next couple of releases, including the forthcoming Ubuntu LTS release, "Noble Numbat," expected on April 25. The big news is played down, though.
The post says that the following Kubuntu release, 24.10, will have a preview of the new KDE Plasma 6 desktop. That, in turn, indicates that the next long-term Kubuntu will ship with the current release of Plasma, meaning version 5.27. As we reported when Plasma 6 reached beta, this is the last version of KDE Plasma 5, and to a degree it's already on life support. The underlying Qt 5 code is past end of life, and the KDE developers are maintaining their own version for KDE. Officially, KDE 5 is at the end of its life.
Release Candidate 1 of Plasma 6 appeared last month and this gap in the KDE release cycle also gave developer Rafael Sadowski time to get it working on OpenBSD. Out-of-support or not, the last version of KDE 5 will be going into both the next OpenBSD and Kubuntu. This is hardly the ideal point in the life cycle of KDE 5 to use it in a long-term support Linux distro, but the Kubuntu team has little option. KDE 5.27 is itself an LTS release too – it has been out for nearly a year now, and there have been multiple minor updates since. The latest, 5.27.10 was released in December. It's not impossible that there may yet be further security updates.
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Although the KDE Plasma 6 "megarelease" is in the home straight, as the latest blog update about RC2 from developer Nate Graham reveals, it's still about a month away. That doesn't leave enough time to integrate it with the Ubuntu 24.04 base OS, including testing and so on. Equally, a freshly released point-zero edition of such a large and complex desktop isn't an ideal match for a long-term distro release.
All the same, from the description of KDE 6 RC2, it sounds like the remaining issues are fairly modest. The finished 6.0 release will probably appear before Kubuntu 24.04, and users will be able to update to it. The preceding Kubuntu blog post announced that it's now possible to update the now two-year-old 22.04 to the latest Plasma 5. In the year that Kubuntu Jammy shipped, we described how to update its Plasma to the then-current LTS, and the same will be possible for Kubuntu Noble in time… We just hope that the message gets out, and users install the upgrade when it's stable. ®