Lightweight LXQt 2.0.0 updates to same toolkit as KDE Plasma 6

4-letter survivor's move to Qt 6 means that, love it or hate it, Wayland is looming

Version 2.0 of the LXQt desktop updates its foundations to Qt 6, as also used in KDE Plasma 6 – but still has one foot in the Qt 5 past, to ease the transition.

As promised back in February, bang on schedule, LXQt 2.0.0 is out. This is an important update to one of the lightest full desktop environments for Linux, and moves most of the environment to the current Qt toolkit version 6. That's the same programming toolkit used in KDE Plasma 6 and paves the way for the forthcoming LXQt 6.1 to support Wayland alongside

Much like with KDE, the project was more or less compelled to update: Qt 5 is past its end-of-life and out of support now. As such, and much as with Plasma 6, the new release doesn't offer many major new features, although there's a new app-launch menu called the Fancy menu, with new Favorites and All Applications submenus.

The desktop, panel, file manager, and most other components have all been rewritten to work with the new toolkit. The terminal emulator, QTerminal, is being updated separately. According to the release notes, "complications were encountered due to the removal of legacy encodings from Qt6. Until then, its Qt5 version 1.4.0 could be used."

Some components can be installed alongside their older, Qt 5-based versions, so that existing distro themes and dialog boxes will still work, or match the looks of the rest of the distro.

LXQt is the successor to, and replacement for, LXDE – familiar to many as the default desktop of the Raspberry Pi OS for many years, until the release of Pi OS 5 late last year. Although some distros still offer LXDE, its last update was version 0.10.1 in February 2021, and its developer, Dr Jen Yee "PCMan" Hong, has moved on to working on LXQt instead. Lubuntu, which switched from LXDE to LXQt in version 18.10, might be the most visible LXQt distro, but the desktop is available in most distros.

LXQt is maturing quite quickly: as we reported at the time, it only reached version 1.0 in late 2021, which meant that the 2022 LTS release of Lubuntu, version 22.04, still included the older LXQt 0.17. That has happened again this time around: with Lubuntu 24.04 due for release about a week from now, it's much too late to incorporate the new LXQt. Just as with Kubuntu, Lubuntu 24.04 LTS will retain the last Qt 5 release of its respective desktop. In this case, that means LXQt 1.4.

Lubuntu users were not left stranded, though: both the Lubuntu and Kubuntu teams offered official desktop updates, so that LTS users could get a more modern version of their desktops. We are confident that the teams will do the same this time around.

To be fair, staying with an end-of-release-cycle version of your UI, rather than a brand-new point-zero release, sounds like the best option for a long-lived stable-release distro. Although KDE Plasma 6.0 was only released about six weeks ago, version 6.0.4 is already out – as is version 6.1 of the KDE Frameworks in preparation for KDE Plasma 6.1.

The big change in LXQt is coming in the forthcoming version 2.1.0, which will complete the move to Qt 6 and will offer full Wayland support. The Reg FOSS desk is quite looking forward to this, and not just because we prefer lighter-weight environments. Currently, the only full desktops that support Wayland are GNOME and KDE, and this vulture is not fond of either. GNOME is too minimal and restrictive, and it doesn't follow industry standards for UI design. Meanwhile, KDE Plasma goes to the opposite extreme: it's much too cluttered – and almost every component still breaks our muscle memory.

The "four-letter desktops" – Xfce, LXDE, and LXQt – all more or less stick to the classic Windows 95-style design, they're all lightweight and quick, and they all get out of our way. However, LXDE is effectively dead. Xfce development is traditionally very slow, so we aren't expecting a Wayland version soon. It might arrive in time for Xubuntu 26.04, but we really don't advise trying to hold your breath that long. Which means that the next release of LXQt is more or less our best hope for a comfortable, usable, Wayland-based desktop in the foreseeable future. Roll on LXQt 2.1.0. ®

Bootnote: Honorary mentions

Just as dead as LXDE is XPde, which looked promising for a while. It was implemented in the non-FOSS Delphi for Linux, so its chances are poor unless someone fancies porting it to Free Pascal with Lazarus. Equally dead is EDE, which we include on the tenuous basis that it used the four-letter FLTK toolkit.

An outlier with early promise is FyneDesk, uniquely – to our knowledge – implemented in Go, using the Fyne toolkit. It seems to be incomplete right now, but there's a demo distro called FyshOS if you're curious.

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