This week in Usability & Productivity, part 49

There’s big news in Usability & Productivity: Firefox 64 can now use native KDE open/save dialogs! This is optional, bleeding-edge functionality so no distros ship with it yet, but it’s pretty simple to enable yourself:

  1. Make sure you’re using Firefox 64
  2. Install the xdg-desktop-portal and xdg-desktop-portal-kde packages
  3. Set GTK_USE_PORTAL=1 in Firefox’s Desktop file. Here’s how:

Once you do this, Firefox should use native KDE open/save dialogs! Please give this a shot and test it out so bugs (like the empty filename field) can be found and fixed, which will make distros more likely to turn it on automatically. On that subject, I’ve filed tickets to get this integrated by default for Kubuntu and Manjaro.

If you find a problem, file a bug to the “xdg-desktop-portal-kde” product.

Of course that’s not all: a lot of improvements have been made to Discover, Plasma, and, heck, all over the place!

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

Next week, your name could be in this list! Not sure how? Just ask! I’ve helped mentor a number of new contributors recently and I’d love to help you, too! You can also check out, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

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40 thoughts on “This week in Usability & Productivity, part 49

  1. Great work
    but i think the job progress bar in discover need another look
    this overlay look not very nice
    maybe take the whole window hight make some improve
    what do u think


  2. It strikes me every week how many details were improved and I never noticed them even I use Plasma over 3,5 years… Kudos!

    I’m happy with KDE Dialogs in FF, although I’m coping with it by using firefox-kde-opensuse which have already KDE dialogs and global menu. I wish Thunderbird added KDE file picker now since I do more operations on files (attachments) there then I do in FF. Current thunderbird-appmenu package only adds a global menu but KDE dialogs are missing so this would be awesome if thunderbird joined FF and add that support.

    As to the request to Manjaro to integrate KDE file pickers in FF, it’s probably better to aim it at Arch, as Manjaro just takes upstream (Arch) FF and just adds branding (which is happening automatically in the fly by some scripts as I understand it). I’m not sure how easy it would add that support so maybe it would be just better to convince Arch maintainers to this idea.


    1. In my experience, it’s pointless to request changes relating to integration and polish for distros like Arch or Debian. They very explicitly don’t care about those kinds of matters, preferring vanilla upstream packages. This is why the more user-friendly derivative distros like Ubuntu and Manjaro exist.


    2. Sad to hear that but my experience is similar. Sadly, Manjaro team is small so they try to automate as many things as possible. It’s a miracle that we get firefox-kde-opensuse in Manjaro repos as an alternative. Just one of the developers is using it so he needs to compile it anyway so we get it as a bonus but it’s not promised and at any time it may disappear and then we have to use AUR version of that package (compile or use binary).
      I guess it all comes down to whether they can make it automatic.

      When I think of it, we are lucky on Arch side anyway, because we have so much choice and easy access to software and various versions. I would have no idea how to get this version of Firefox in, let’s say… Open Suse. Funny thing, I tried to find it as the patches are called open suse patches and yet search engine didn’t show ANYTHING on that topic for Open Suse and FF there is just the plain one, without KDE dialog and global menus.

      So FF having at least KDE dialogs possible to be enabled manually for everyone else is a turn in good direction.


    1. The change I highlighted only added support for file open/save dialogs, not print dialogs. That’s a separate issue.


    2. It’s curious, it works for me, I’m using Firefox beta (65.0b5) and it appears the KDE print dialog on Firefox to me.
      Also thanks for the tip on getting KDE file open/save dialogs on Firefox!


    1. I didn’t know any C++ when I started submitting patches a year and a half ago. You can do it! Besides, learning something new and fixing problems is much more empowering than complaining that other people haven’t done it for you. 🙂 The world improves when we take the initiative to make things happen!


  3. > When a dialog window is open and its parent window is minimized, the dialog window now gets minimized too

    Very nice! That was a white noise annoyance…


  4. hi Nate ! The FF opensuse patch leads to some files being randomly not saved (known issue), I guess this is a different implementation ?

    Also, FF and TB have issues with the kde files associations : sometimes I have to make changes in the kde prefs to make them properly detected in ff. otherwise the default app for a given filetype is frequently wrong. install the gimp for instance, you’ll see what I mean 🙂 (pdfs get opened with it)

    cheers !!


    1. Yeah, firefox-kde-opensuse do have issues with protocols. I was able to add proper magnet support but didn’t know how to add for example ocs-url.
      So far that’s the only issue with this version of FF, but it has nothing to do with the options discussed here.


    1. Sorry, wrong on all counts: The patch was submitted by someone not associated with Mozilla; the effect is to use whatever file dialog is native to the platform (GNOME, KDE, ElementaryOS, whatever) and does not force anything on anyone; and finally, most people seem to prefer the KDE file dialog over the GTK one–especially people using KDE software.


    1. That’s the GNOME file dialog, not the KDE file dialog. Looks like it didn’t work for you. Are you sure you have the right packages installed and that you started Firefox with the environment variable?

      Also, are you actually using Plasma, or GNOME (or something else?)


    2. At first it seemed that when both are installed, the GTK version wins. It was already installed because it was a dependency of something else, and I installed the KDE version on top of it. I logged out of Plasma and back in, and I was getting the Gnome file dialog.

      However, it turns out you need to reboot. So I’ve now installed both versions, rebooted, and I get the KDE dialog.


  5. Great progress!
    I was just wondering, are there still any plans to make plasma hidpi scaling enabled? If im scaling it with integer value (2x) everything works just fine, and i’ve been using it for months. I’ve noticed only two annoyances, one is that when i mouse over to the bottom of the screen trying to press item on the panel, it doesnt highlight it. But if i move my mouse pointer just by 1px up, then i can select them just fine.
    Another problem, is that when i minimize the window, the window animation doesnt go to taskbar in the bottom, but to the middle of the screen. I suppose the plasma gives wrong coordinates of the panel when i use hidpi scaling?


  6. When GTK_USE_PORTAL=1 is set, Firefox always keeps asking about being set as default browser on startup (without the variable, it remembers the setting and doens’t ask anymore). Is there any way to work around it?


    1. It’s actually already set to Firefox for me in System Settings > Applications > Default Applications > Web Browser.


    2. I had this problem.
      The solution was to make it default inside Firefox Settings. For some reasons was the confirmation was not registering. Just go there and done.

      My problem is another.
      I managed to make it work after updating, finally, to 18.04.1, but when I try to save an image for example the file name and extension is not automatically brought, the field is left blank and I need to give it a name and extension.
      Because of this I had to undo and revert back to the GTK file selector.


    3. This is a bug that’s already been fixed in the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.14.5 release. I don’t think it’s been backported to 5.12.x though, which you’re using if you have Kubuntu 18.04.


  7. > Firefox 64 can now use native KDE open/save dialogs!

    Great news, so we don’t need use plasmazilla forks of Firefox, that are updated very rarely!
    From which versions of KDE this trick must work?


    1. Any version that has the `xdg-desktop-portal-kde` package. In practice, probably 5.12.x and newer, though it may work for older ones too.


  8. When GTK_USE_PORTAL=1 is set, then on my system (Antergos) Thunderbird just crashes.
    When I unset GTK_USE_PORTAL, then Thunderbird starts normally.
    Therefore “Set GTK_USE_PORTAL=1 somewhere in your environment.”, in my opinion is not good idea. The only one safe place is Desktop file.

    Additionally. In output messages (when I start Thunderbird from konsole) I see:

    Gtk-Message: 16:59:34.827: Failed to load module “appmenu-gtk-module”
    [calBackendLoader] Using Thunderbird’s builtin libical backend

    But the same messages are visible when mentioned variable is not set.
    Installing this package made that gtk+ applications crash.

    Of course I followed your instruction. In Firefox I see filedialog (I tested only open action) from Plasma/KDE.
    $ pacman -Q | grep xdg-
    xdg-desktop-portal 1.0.3-1
    xdg-desktop-portal-kde 5.14.4-1
    xdg-user-dirs 0.17-1
    xdg-utils 1.1.3-3


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