KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 84

Get ready for week 84 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative! 84 weeks is a lot of weeks, and in fact the end is in sight for the U&P initiative. I’d say it’s been a huge success, but all good things must come to an end to make room for new growth! In fact, KDE community members have submitted many new goals, which the community will be able to vote on soon, with the three winners being unveiled at Akademy next month.

But fear not, for the spirit of the Usability & Productivity initiative has suffused the KDE community, and I expect a lot of really cool U&P related stuff to happen even after the initiative has formally ended–including the long-awaited projects of PolicyKit support and mounted Samba and NFS shares in KIO and Dolphin! These projects are making steady progress and I hope to have them done in the next few months, plugging some longstanding holes in our software.

And finally, I’ll be continuing these weekly blog posts for the foreseeable future! It’s just too much fun to stop. Anyway, here’s what we’ve got this week:

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

If you’re getting the sense that KDE’s momentum is accelerating, you’re right. More and more new people are appearing all the time, and I am constantly blown away by their passion and technical abilities. We are truly blessed by… you! This couldn’t happen without the KDE community–both our contributors for making this warp factor 9 level of progress possible, and our users for providing feedback, encouragement, and being the very reason for the project to exist. And of course, the overlap between the two allows for good channels of communication to make sure we’re on the right track.

Many of those users will go on to become contributors, just like I did once. In fact, 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 https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, 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!

If you find KDE software useful, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

46 thoughts on “KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 84

  1. Hello Nate, congratulation again on a lot of progress.

    Please take the following not as complaints but as a request for help.
    I have some remarks about fundamentals that are not working for me, would it be good to create bug reports or are these problems already worked on anyway? I will create bug reports if you think it would help, I also would be glad to read here your first reaction. Thinking about how to classify these bug fixes, I would say they fall in the category “fix the fundamentals”, or “create minimum functionality / reliability for the most used use cases”. I am not talking about changing layouts like you are doing in system settings, but just make the fundamentals work really wel / reliably. Perhaps this would be a worthwhile theme for the next effort.

    – Often after pressing the windows symbol and starting to type or move the mouse the launcher freezes / takes ten seconds for it to defreeze (some timeout occurs that frees it again?)
    – recent documents (finding them by pressing the windows symbol and then typing the name) worked once but no more for libreoffice calc spreadsheets. Also calculations, such as 23/4, product no result intermittedly, so I can not really rely on it.
    – I installed neon on my desktop PC specifically to rescale printed PDFs to the page area only to find that the feature is not useful in KDE since it also dithers the text, creating grayish text instead of crisp black text. The only PDF application that prints correct is chromium.
    – also I use Firefox now to view PDF files, since it is much more speedy than Okular.
    – I already created a bug report for the very slow reading of NAS based (using samba) Dejavu files
    Thanks for your advice!

    John

    Like

    1. Hello John, 1) 2) and 3) I cannot reproduce on my Arch systems.
      About 4) With neon, do you mean KDE Neon based on Ubuntu? If you use the FireFox for printing, it’s known that it may produce blurry prints.

      So depending on the system and age of the packages you use, 1) 2) and 3) may have already been fixed. Otherwise I think you better search for bug reports and if none (resolved) exist for your issues, create a detailed one, stating all your settings to make it as easy as possible to reproduce it. 🙂

      See you

      Like

      1. Hello Eric

        I use just the neon image that can be downloaded from the website, so based on ubuntu 18.04.

        @1: Freezing of the app launcher: it has happened occasionally over the last 4 years. It is a long-standing problem. I have a somewhat older computer (4 core 2500K 8GB + 256GB SSD) and I type directly after pressing the windows symbol. I cannot reproduce it at will.

        @2: easy to reproduce: Finding a recent libreoffice calc document never works anymore for me. Note that everything is on my NAS, which I think somehow aggrevates problems.

        3) I was talking about Okular. It is easy to reproduce, I use a PDF with text, not photocopies, I could send you the sample book. Select scale to page and see the print quality degrade. I think the problem is due to the fact that you have to select render. I never use Firefox to print BTW since it is limited to 300DPI. I always use Firefox to watch PDFs and Chrome to print them, unfortunately Okular excels at neither.

        Like

        1. Note that everything is on my NAS, which I think somehow aggrevates problems.

          Ah, this is critically important information. What communication protocol does your NAS use? Samba, NFS, something else? Have you manually mounted it somewhere, or are you accessing it via smb:// or nfs:// paths in Dolphin?

          I think the problem is due to the fact that you have to select [force rasterization]

          This is fixed in the latest Okular release that just came out a few days ago. 🙂 You no longer need to force rasterization to scale printer PDFs.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. @1: I could reproduce this, but:

          Only the first time (Alt+F1 is my shortcut), after the first time no matter how many times I repeat the process, couldn’t find any lag any more.

          Is worth noticing that this is only the first time I use the kbd shortcut because even if I have been clicking on the button or launching the app launcher by hot corner before, the first time I use the shortcut and start typing there is maybe 400ms to 1.5s lag before results start to appear. After this first lag there is no more lag on successive tests.

          So maybe Plasma caches (to RAM or whatever) a launcher instance depending on the method you used to fire it?

          Like

    2. I strongly agree that “fixing the fundamentals” is critical, but not all bugs affect everyone! Like Eric, I cannot reproduce any of your issues. That’s why it’s so important to fils bugs: the problems you experience may be very different from the ones that the developers experience! We don’t know about your issues unless you report them.

      I will agree that Okular’s PDF printing support in general could use some improvement, but what you describe doesn’t happen to me. Part of the problem is often the underlying Poppler PDF library, which Okular uses. Poppler is not a part of KDE, so Okular has to make do with whatever version of poppler the distro provides. Neon currently has version 0.77, while the latest released version is 0.79. It’s not much but maybe that could explain it? Also since Okular simply uses the standard Qt print dialog, different Qt versions can also affect this. Neon Currently has Qt 5.12, while the latest version is 5.13. Finally, the latest version of Okular that was just released two days ago has some improvements in PDF printing, so maybe those might help.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I will certainly check the improvements in PDF printing in Okular. And I will file bugs for the other issues. I use a NAS, using Samba, and I mount every share via fstab, so automounted on boot. I think this counts as what you call manually mounted? I will file bugs…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. About the update spinner. What if discover show while the refresh is running, an slideshow or discover apps that are recommended but not installed. Because look at the spinner is boring.

    Like

    1. That’s not a bad idea, but I think it could be kind of weird for times when the spinner is only displayed for a second or two. When it’s going for like 30 seconds, then yeah, something to look at would be prettier, but we can’t know the duration in advance, and it seems like it would be very frustrating to start reading something that could disappear at any time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Nate ! First : I won’t thank you enough for all that you and the community have achieved.

    The U&P initiative made such a HUGE difference, we really have to figure out a way to keep it running in the long term. There should be a team dedicated to it. What do you all think ? A way to keep the momentum going, show to everyone one what’s going on on a weekly basis, help / incite people to get aboard, focus on the most important areas…

    Looking back, considering all that’s been fixed / added in those past years, I can confidently say that NOW KDE is great for everyone while it was kinda lacking / had many rough edges before that made it great mostly for OSS enthusiasts.

    Cheers !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, all the people who have been working on this stuff are still around and still doing it! And most importantly, we’ve recruited a huger number of new people. At a certain point, something becomes self-sustaining, and I think the U&P initiative may be an example. That means it’s a perfect time to broaden the field for new goals, because then we can repeat the cycle!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know but a native libzypp back-end will not appear out of the blue and with Neon aligning themselves with the proprietary Snap Store, I don’t see any sponsored work going into that.

        Like

        1. libzypp would be used on openSUSE, right? Neon doesn’t have anything to do with that. If there’s anyone who I would expect to sponsor such work, it would be the people for whom it would be useful–that is to say, the openSUSE folks.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. > libzypp would be used on openSUSE, right?

            openSUSE, Fedora, and pretty much anything RPM-based. I’ve used zypper for a while under Fedora. Worked fine.

            > Neon doesn’t have anything to do with that.

            Of course not. Past KDE was interested in supporting as many distributions as possible which would mean that upstream KDE would pursue libzypp and libapt back-ends. With KDE, Blue Systems and Canonical in business partnership with each other, sadly only proprietary Snap Store is now pursued. Not really a well-kept secret that the pivot to Snap happened around the same time as Canonical became a patron of KDE.

            > If there’s anyone who I would expect to sponsor such work, it would be the people for whom it would be useful–that is to say, the openSUSE folks.

            Except that openSUSE’s KDE efforts are completely non-commercial. SUSE dropped Plasma in favor of Gnome and fired or reassigned the members of the former KDE team.

            Like

          2. KDE and Blue Systems have no business partnership with Canonical. Canonical is a KDE patron, but there is no partnership, and Blue Systems has no relationship with Canonical.

            The Neon team prefers Snaps, but others within KDE prefer Flatpak, which is why we have Flatpak nightly builds of all our apps: https://community.kde.org/Guidelines_and_HOWTOs/Flatpak. Others within KDE even prefer AppImages, such as the Krita team. There isn’t some kind of organized push for Snap; what you’re seeing is just the Neon team being particularly vocal.

            I wrote a longer response to someone bringing up the same subject here, if you’re interested: https://www.reddit.com/r/kde/comments/crlt6t/is_kde_neon_horrible_and_fearsome_novel_style/ex96ve0/

            Liked by 1 person

  4. “Active and inactive tabs in Google Chrome and Chromium”
    Will we get the same sorta of feature with Firefox? Currently they do look alike (active and inactive tabs).

    Like

    1. Yes, that’s in progress too: https://phabricator.kde.org/D23079

      However it’s more challenging due to a bug in Firefox itself: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1562507

      At the moment we’re trying to work around the bug but it’s quite possible that this can’t be fixed on our side without them fixing that bug first (or more realistically, one of us submitting a patch to fix it; you might notice some familiar KDE names in the comments section of that bug report!).

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Nate,

    “On Discover’s Updates page, the version numbers are now displayed in lighter text to keep visual focus on the app names”

    Great improvement, thanks!

    In connection with version numbers…
    What are you thoughts on preventing the briefly shown error message ‘%2(I18N_ARGUMENT_MISSING)’ which appears for many updates, possibly keeping the sting (after the right facing arrow) blank until latest version information is retrieved?

    Have a screen capture showing the error if required.

    Like

  6. “Notifications’ Do Not Disturb mode can now be optionally enabled automatically when screens are mirrored, such as when giving a presentation”

    What! so no more awkward moments to lighten the mood?

    Kai Uwe Broulik what have you done. . .

    Like

    1. Cleaning up that patch and helping the author get it submitted is on my to-do list. However I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have not been able to figure out how to actually get the mouse or touchpad KCM built from source to test the patch. I can get the rest of plasma-desktop built, but the mouse and touchpad KCMs always skipped due to missing dependencies that I can’t figure out, or else they build but there are no changes. I need to bug for people much smarter than me for some help. Thanks for the reminder!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It has been great following these blog entries. I hope the new projects to come will be of the same quality. I don’t know what is on the list, but what I would really like to see is something to automatically adapt the KDE by context and time. E.g. automatically change the main printer or the the places toolbar by network environment or time of the day. It would be also cool if before the end of the initiative network priorities could be easily set and used. I commented it in the early beginnings of your initiative and you had a look into it. Unfortunately at that time the devs of the network management said that it was to complicated and needed a rewrite of something. May be those things have changed? I find the frequent login in low priority ntworks over the real ones one of the most anoying things in KDE at the moment.

    Like

  8. Two things:

    1. Where is Breeze aurorae theme located? It’s not where all other aurorare themes are… Messy folder structure.
    I need this in hope to create Breezmite Dynamic (or something along those lines) which would basically be a Breezmite with Breeze dynamic color features and all others, or at least that is the idea. If I’m up to it, no idea, but to start I need to understand how Breeze aurorae theme is constructed and compare it to now not developed but still popular Breezmite.

    I asked this last week but got no response and couldn’t find the answer anywhere, at least nothing recent… Lack of documentation.

    2. I’m constantly amazed how this weekly read can be fun. Most such series would become normal and maybe even boring but not this one. I expect to read it every day and I expect it anticipation. It’s always a pleasure to read and it excites me again and again!
    Now I can’t wait to use Plasma 5.17 :D.
    One time thank you is not enough so thank you again :).

    Like

      1. Uh, ok… This is completely not readable for me. I have no idea what am I looking at and where to look. I just hoped to see the location on my computer for the Breeze aurorae theme.

        Like

        1. Well, on your computer it’s just a compiled binary file, so it wouldn’t do you much good. I thought you wanted to fork it and modify the code to make your own.

          Like

          1. Ah, I thought it works like other aurorae themes: rc and svg files, maybe some qml files, etc. In such case, it’s above my head big time. I’m not a coder and have no time to dig into it on that level.

            There is a nice color script from latte developer but this works only with breeze aurorae. It would be great if all modern aurorae themes had those and other features.

            I really dislike the default breeze aurorae theme. I prefer having light titlebar with light theme, but breeze does it opposite and I don’t see the point of complete color change when inactive. A bit pale, dimmed out the color, sure, but the opposite color? Confusing.

            Maybe I could use the script color to modify all titlebars? Hmmm…

            Like

          2. Great! However I’m sure some will not like the light version either (because they are used to current default) so it would be good to have the old colors, light and dark ones.
            It would be nice to get the possibility to tweak the height of the titlebar further because currently, the small one is… too big. Almost all other aurorae themes use lower/thinner titlebars so when I try to return to breeze one, it feels odd and clunky.

            Like

          3. OK, the experiment went well. I could force light colors on breeze titlebar on all apps and then add some other colors to chosen ones. So the only part of the fun that is missing is the buttons or maybe I need to make the titlebar bit slimmer, the default small one is huge whole very small one is too small.

            Breeze buttons are quite nice but I like those “mackish” breezmite ones so much better so I hoped to change those will be relatively simple. But if Breeze itself is compiled, this is a bit too much.

            Maybe if it was on GitHub I could make head or tails out magdaof the site but let’s try it. Cloning…Whoa, pretty big project. Still waiting. Done, over 500 MB. Looking into the folder. Uh, c++ 😦

            Bye bye Dynamic Breezmite project… Anyway, thanks for help.

            Like

          4. Luckily changing color schemes or editing existing color schemes is trivial, so people who don’t like it have a ton of options to satisfy themselves. 🙂

            Like

  9. Thanks for your effords but the desktop enviroment consume a lot of ram and cpu..

    All your changes are superficial and touch GUI on apps rather than window manager or session manager.

    I hope someday Plasma could consume less than 700 mb on iddle rather than 1500 mb.. or 300 mb like LXQT.

    Like

    1. Well, that’s because I’m at best a front-end dev. I’m not qualified to be working on that other stuff. But a bunch of my colleagues are, and do. If you’re seeing plasma itself (not everything, but Plasma) take 700 MB of RAM on a cold boot, please file a bug, as that’s quite unusual. On my system, plasmashell itself uses less than 150, and the whole stack uses around 450.

      Like

  10. I have one question, when I plug in a USB headset, that sound output shows up in my sound settings and I can switch to/from it at will. It even shows up in the first page of “Audio Volume” settings. So far so good.

    However, when I plug an HDMI cable I don’t see anything happening. I have to go all the way to the advanced page and select HDMI as an output option for “Built In Analog Stereo”. However, when I unplug it, I have to go all the way to the advanced menu and switch it back. When I used Linux Mint, it treated HDMI as an alternative sound sink, just like the USB headset. Is there any reason why HDMI is handled differently than a USB headset in this case? I don’t want to file a bug for an intended behavior, but if it is intended, why is plugging/unplugging an HDMI cable so much more complicated than a USB headset?

    Like

    1. Whoops, I meant I have to switch HDMI as the “Built-in Audio” option (analog stereo is the setting I have to switch to/from, you probably know this, I just wanted to be clear my system isn’t being really weird).

      Like

  11. As always, terrific new stuff as every week. Great improvements.

    As i said on your latest post, very thankful by my side for all your work you’ve made, you’re doing and of course, that you’re going to do for the KDE Software. I really feel like there’s been a huge improvement at usability & productivity at the KDE Software in general and of course, i really love that.

    Thank you as always for your huge work & efforts KDE Community and especially Nate :).

    Receive a huge hug all the ones mentioned above ^^.

    Like

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