Lightweight Windows-like desktop LXQt makes leap to Qt 6 with version 2.0

Following in the same direction as the good ship KDE Plasma

The next major release of the LXQt desktop should arrive in April. Like the imminent KDE Plasma 6.0, it will use version 6 of the Qt toolkit.

The development team pre-announced LXQt 2.0 as a replacement for the current LXQt 1.4.0, which came out last November. The 1.x versions were built around Qt 5, which is now past the end of its supported lifetime, but the new release will use the current Qt 6.

LXQt is the successor project to the widely used LXDE desktop, which still features in some editions of the Raspberry Pi OS, for instance. Both are lightweight, Windows 9x-style desktops for FOSS Unixes including Linux and the BSDs.

LXDE was implemented using version 2 of GNOME's Gtk toolkit, as were Xfce and MATE. As we mentioned when discussing Gtk 5, it took both Xfce and MATE years to migrate from Gtk 2 to Gtk 3. Xfce 4.14 finished migrating its core components to Gtk 3 in 2019, just one year before Gtk 4 appeared.

LXDE's project lead, Dr Jen Lee "PCMan" Hong, chose to move to Qt, Gtk's main rival, instead. This still means tracking upstream Qt versions, though. In 2014, LXQt 0.8 switched to Qt 5, and currently it uses Qt 5.15. However, that reached EOL in May 2023. So, just like KDE Plasma 6.0, the project must now change tack to the current Qt 6.

The good news is that LXQt 2 will bring some neat new features, such as an improved "Fancy" application menu, with a handy "All Applications" category, improved search, and the ability to pin favorite apps to the top level of the menu. Less visible, but potentially useful to some, is Wayland support. There are still several tasks marked "To do" on the project's Kanban board but progress looks promising, and we suspect that a working version of the desktop would improve Wayland's desirability for quite a few people.

This release will arrive too late for inclusion in the latest version of Lubuntu, but that's a problem that the Lubuntu team has faced before. LXQt 1.0 arrived too late for Lubuntu 22.04, so it's been shipping with version 0.17, but you can update to a newer release direct from the project's own repositories. We're sure that the same will be eventually be true for Lubuntu "Noble Numbat." ®

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