This week in KDE: Plasma 5.18 is the release you’ve been waiting for

A ton of features, bugfixes, and and user interfaces have landed for Plasma 5.18, and a beta release is now available for adventurous types to test out ahead of the release next month.

I think this is the Plasma release that a lot of people have been waiting for. It’s faster, more stable, more beautiful, and more feature-filled than any previous release, and it comes with a Long Term Support guarantee. Nothing is perfect, and we can always do better (and always strive to), but I think Plasma 5.18 is going to hit a sweet spot for a lot of people. Look for it in the next LTS releases of Kubuntu and openSUSE Leap, as well as all the rolling release distros of course.

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

How You Can Help

Please test the Plasma 5.18 beta release! You can find out how here. If you find bugs, file them–especially if they are regressions from Plasma 5.17. We want to get as much testing, bug filing, and bugfixing as possible during the one-month beta period so that the official release is as smooth as possible.

More generally, have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved and find out more ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

46 thoughts on “This week in KDE: Plasma 5.18 is the release you’ve been waiting for

  1. Drag and drop to set wallpaper? That sounds like a terrible idea. If you drag any file to the desktop, it should be saved to the desktop as it is in any other operating system or environment.

    Like

    1. This feature has been present in Plasma since basically forever (not sure when exactly but early 4.x versions). The fact that you’ve never been bothered by it, shows that it’s not a problem.

      Plasma does not behave like “any other operating system or environment”. It’s standard behaviour since KDE1 or so to display a context menu when a file is dropped with a left click. This Plasma feature does the same: Open a context menu asking to copy the file, move it, or set is as wallpaper

      This recent fix is about dragging an image from a web browser, not a behavioural change of a core Plasma feature itself.

      Liked by 5 people

        1. Today and yesterday you dragged an image and you had 2 options: 1) Copy, 2) Link or 3) Move.

          Tomorrow you will have 1) Copy, 2) Link, 3) Move and 4) Set as WP.

          I still fail to see the problem.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I should have been more clear. This feature has already been implemented forever for local images. What happens when you drag a local image to the desktop is that the drag-and-drop menu shows a “set as wallpaper” option. What got fixed is that now it works for remote images too. If you don’t want to set the image as your wallpaper, just choose “move” or “copy” in the menu that appears instead of “set as wallpaper”.

      I’ll edit the post to make the more clear.

      Like

    3. I am a long time Linux user — some 18-20 years now, and I have used KDE for all that time. My current OS is CentOS 7.7, and I am currently using KDE 4.14. It is some 95% of all the bugs have been worked out, and it is very stable. I also know how to use it efficiently. I run a light duty workstation. It has a AMD hexacore processor, and 32 GB of RAM, and dual monitors. At any given time I am running several different projects that I jump back and forth from. I am a retired Ph.D. level scientist who still does consulting. My workstation *is* my window on the world as I am disabled with both Parkinson’s Disease and Epilepsy.

      The entire KDE 5 idea has been a disaster from the start. By KDE 4.5 or 4.6, in the midst of a user revolt, some person came up the idea that allowed the user to configure their desktop the way THEY want. In my case I use at any given time 10 Virtual Desktops, each Virtual Desktop has its own Wallpaper, and its own set application icons. This was a KILLER design!! KDE did this by adding a simple but ingenious check box: Under System Settings => find Workspace Appearance and Behavior => Workspace Behavior => GoTo Virtual Desktop and Click on it. Not only can you specify how many Virtual Desktops, the Number of Rows, but there is an all important check box that says: Different widgets for each desktop! What a Brilliant Idea!! Many users love this feature and wish that other desktop environments would follow KDE’s lead. Then came KDE 5. The last time I checked in on KDE 5 — about KDE 5.10 — this simple Brilliant Idea pioneered by KDE was still absent. WHY?!?

      Now it is all about “Activities”, what ever they are. Anyone who has used KDE — indeed most any Linux desktop environment — is quite familiar with the concept of the Virtual Desktop. Even Miocro$oft has started to add this concept to Windows 10! I contacted KDE and someone wrote back, ”

      “While KDE Plasma 5 does not support different widgets on virtual desktops, it does support different widgets on different “Activities”, which can be used much like virtual desktops, but with some extra abilities including this one. You should be able to find YouTube resources on the Activities concept if you pair it with the brand name for version 5 of KDE’s desktop offering (Plasma).”

      I have some very valid questions that have remained unanswered for a LONG time:

      1) KDE fought a long time to quell the user revolts in the Early days of KDE 4 by including a allowing the user to have different Virtual Desktops with different backgrounds and a different Widget set. KDE 5 comes along and suddenly does away with the very feature that many Linux users have grown to like: You Click a box “Different widgets for each desktop”. No matter how many times I have asked, no one, I mean NO ONE, at KDE can seem to answer WHY did you get rid of something that was so popular? I’ll ask again WHY DID YOU GET RID OF THIS POPULAR FEATURE?!?

      2) The statement,” It does support different widgets on different “Activities”, which can be used much like virtual desktops”. Activities is not the same thing as a Virtual Desktop. 95% of people who have been using Linux for any length of time knows what a Virtual Desktop is. Either it *is* a Virtual Desktop; or it is NOT a Virtual Desktop. Ask someone what is meant by “Activity” and you’ll get probably as many different answers as the number of people you ask that question to.

      3) Contrary to assertions I have gone on line to find out all about “Activities” and how to set them up, etc. I still can NOT find a SINGLE CLEAR CUT VIDEO HOW TO SET THE THING UP, SHOWING HOW TO DO IT STEP-BY-STEP. What I have found is a bunch of RUSHED reviews that reference it, show a “do this, do that PRESTO!” And have spent less than a minute of explanation. By the way I came across a review of KDE 5.15 they imply you can change the Wallpaper in each Virtual Desktop and each Activity can have its own set of Widgets”. These reviews are nice, but they are RUSHED and don’t really show HOW TO DO IT. By the time of KDE 4 4.5-4.6 in the midst of a user revolt there were several Step-By-Step You Tube Videos out there how to change backgrounds and add a different sets of widgets for each Virtual Desktop. We are now at KDE 5 5.18 and I still can not find a slow Step-By-Step video on setting up “Activities”; What is meant by an “Activity”; How do you change the Wall Paper in each Virtual Desktop (The last time I tried it if I changed the Wallpaper for 1 Virtual Desktop, it changed the Wallpaper for all 10 Virtual Desktops to the same Wallpaper.). Have you fixed this problem or is the same old problem?!?

      4) You talk about “User Experience”. After the User Revolt experienced in KDE 4 you would think KDE would have been smart enough that they would want to avoid a repeat of those early days of KDE 4.

      Rule 1: If you want people adopt to your Desktop Environment: BUILD UPON WHAT THEY KNOW
      Rule 2: Don’t tear up everything they know and start over from scratch, just because you want to.
      Rule 3: If it ain’t broken, don’t “fix it”. If you do your asking for trouble.

      Linux users KNOW what a Virtual Desktop *IS*, Thanks to KDE. KDE users know how to use a Virtual Desktop, how to change the Wallpaper in Each Virtual Desktop, and how to add Widgets to Each Virtual Desktop so that each Virtual Desktop is UNIQUE.

      KDE has shot themselves in their feet with the POOR SUPPORT and ROLLOUT of KDE 5. KDE is loosing mind-share because of the DISASTROUS mess you have all made without any OFFICIAL GUIDES, or VIDEOS on how to use KDE 5, and make it do what they want to do.

      What do *I* want to see in KDE 5.19 (or 5.20 at the latest)? A return to the rather simple idea that allows me 1) To change the Wallpaper of EACH Virtual Desktop so each is UNIQUE LOOKING
      2) Add back the feature that allows me to Click a box that says “Different widgets for each desktop”.
      3) Someone at KDE should 1: Start making MANUALS and VIDEOS of all this fancy stuff such as “Activities” Etc. They should be OFFICIAL KDE manuals and videos, with Step-By-Step directions. If such manuals and videos exist and are available with clear cut instructions, I have yet to find them. You would be doing me — and probably a large number of people like me — if you would please post a link to them. I have been searching ever since KDE 5.0 was released. I still have not found an OFFICIAL KDE MANUAL OR VIDEO. These should have been one of KDE’s top priorities during KDE 5 EARLY days and I’m still looking for them at KDE 5.18

      Distros such as RHEL 8, CentOS 8, and Fedora (whatever version they are up to) will no longer support KDE. Two days ago I designed a Linux system for my sister — a Windows 7 user [SIGH] — and figured I’d put a beginners version of Linux on it: Linux Mint, 19.3 KDE. I got a Surprise when I read: “Linux Mint used to have a KDE desktop environment edition. But starting from Linux Mint 19 Tara, Linux Mint won’t have any more KDE desktop environment edition.” What are they going to have? Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon! When a BEGINNER’s distro such as Linux Mint is ditching KDE for Cinnamon, then you are really in trouble. Cinnamon is KDE without the Bells and whistles of KDE 4.0, And what is it missing that everybody wants? Different widgets for each virtual desktop. something KDE Pioneered!! ! Will I stay with CentOS or migrate to a different distro?!? If I stay, I will move to Cinnamon, because it is, at least, KDE-like.

      The lack of Official Support for KDE in CentOS has me looking at other distros, the two most interesting ones are Arch Linux and Manjaro Linux, with the hopes I can simply stay with KDE 4.

      Don’t tell me how “GREAT” KDE 5.18 is. Without documentation and videos show how to use all these “Cool new features” while taking away the things that I know how to use then this desktop environment is pretty much of no use. A lot of what I am complaining about should have been addressed ages ago, and they still have not been addressed.

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      1. Here is a video explaining how Activities works and how to use the feature to accomplish what you want: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCMfweOXDWo&feature=youtu.be

        I wasn’t around for the KDE4 days, but I do agree that certain changes seem to have been less than popular and that we as the developers need the humility to reverse course when our decisions upset our users. Happily, I believe that over the past two years, we have demonstrated ample willingness to do this, and I expect us to continue doing so when appropriate.

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        1. Thank you for your reply. That was indeed more or less helpful — it is far more helpful than I have found since the launch of KDE 5.0. I plan to start experimenting with Manjaro Linux KDE within days. As one user put it there are an awful lot of bugs, and you are already at KDE 5.18!! This should not be. At some point someone at KDE needs to call for a what in the Old Days was called “Feature Freeze” otherwise you simply overwhelm the User, and you are constantly trying to stamp out bugs — You will need Industrial Strength RAID just to quash all the bugs that are showing up in KDE 5.18. Ridiculous!! This should be Rock Solid by this time.

          When a BEGINNER distro like Linux Mint pulls KDE and substitutes it with Cinnamon, you have a problem. KDE is far more complex than it aught to be and it is showing up in all the bug reports. In my day there was something called the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Removing something that EVERYBODY understands — the concept of the Virtual Desktop — how you can customize EACH ONE, and add Specific Widgets to EACH ONE, and then introduce the concept of “Activities”, which at best is POORLY UNDERSTOOD. was STUPID. While Developers might have a lot of GREAT Ideas which THEY understand, it is the END USER which is going to have to live with the consequences of their Development. While the concept of “Activities” *may* make sense to Developers, it over complicates what was a rather SIMPLE Process that KDE itself DEVELOPED!! That makes ZERO SENSE. Removing or Substituting “Activities” for something well known like the Virtual Desktop — so well known that Micro$oft is copying the idea (and making a mess of it) is just one of the reasons that Linux is a far superior OS.

          It is time for KDE to drop back 10 and Punt: There is no reason — ZERO — that Virtual Desktops, and how to customize them by Adding Wallpaper to each, and customizing each with its own set of Icons, can not CO-EXIST with “Activities” and allowing the USER to choose what is best for them, rather than trying to force feed them solely on the Poorly Understood idea of “Activities”. Trying to intermingle the two ideas and Virtual Desktops with “Activities” over complicates what was once a fairly EASY Process –Fairly EASY for most Linux users to Understand, but it took a Users Revolt in KDE 4,0 when this concept of “Activities” was first introduced, that caused someone at KDE to re-consider and SEPARATE the two which actually made the Virtual Desktop BETTER.

          By now, KDE 5.18 should be Rock Solid with a handful of MINOR bug fixes. It should have kept and built upon popular features in KDE 4, not jetsam them because Developers want to try new ideas re-inventing the wheel the wheel in the process which only they truly understand. KDE is loosing mind share when distros such mainline distros such as Red Hat ( including RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora) and many Red Hat based distros, and even popular BEGINNER distros such as Linux Mint deep sixing KDE.

          I ENJOY using KDE 4.14 I UNDERSTAND it, and know my way around it; I absolutely HATE KDE 5. It is way overly complex to use and customize and it is POORLY documented. There should be a ton of Videos made by KDE — not some “Reviewer” — that show how to customize it. This should have been done way back when KDE 5.0 was launched. There should be links to “How to Customize Activities, Add Wallpaper to Virtual Desktops, and Add Widgets” That there no such videos out there, and all I find are “Reviewers Commentary” which are slap dash and rushed because they can’t cover all the new “Features” in one video, resulting in a rushed review that is totally unhelpful.

          Again THANK YOU FOR THE LINK, that is the first one I have seen. It could have explained more — I still do not know what an “Activity” is for certain, but at least I now have some idea what is meant, and I a reference point to start from. I sincerely hope my comments will cause someone in KDE to re-think things.

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  2. The KDE Development train just keeps gaining momentum and speeding up, it seems. Amazing and fun to follow all this cool stuff come to life. I also follow closely what GNOME are up to, as well as a few popular distros, but none of them can keep up with this pace. It’s not just the pace, it’s the quality. Things don’t get changed around or flipped upside down just for the sake of flipping things around when you have nothing better to do.. Don’t want to badmouth others because it all boils down to the resources at their disposal of course. It’s a shame linux still is this fragmented that there are designers making their own distros and developers clueless about design making other distros. Oh well, that’s not a problem with KDE =) I can already seeeeeee the glorious reviews coming in when 5.18 hits the streets! Damn shame Kubuntu 20.04 isn’t out just a little bit sooner, now that there’s a global panic in Windows 7-land..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. About bluetooth device’s battery level. I remember Commit Digest described this feature as KDE4 feature, but I never saw this feature in real usage. Was this feature introduced in KDE4 or whatever?

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  4. > There are now keyboard shortcuts set by default for switching from one virtual desktop to another: Ctrl+Meta+Arrow keys (Björn Feber, Plasma 5.18.0)

    If I am not mistaken you could switch between virtual desktop number 1 to number N with Ctrl+F[1-N] by default. For all who don’t want to release their mouse while dragging and switching VDs. 🙂

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    1. I find that user’s videos to be super annoying and uncomfortable to watch, I seriously can’t handle that much sarcasm, sour humour and passive aggressiveness (this one wasn’t that bad tho). Although their points are often interesting and are also shared among many other users, some times myself included. Not this particular time though.

      Baby Wogue talks about two actions that at first sight may appear to serve the same function (organizing windows) but in reality their granularity and intended purpose sets them apart from each other.

      Desktop Grid is an organization tool for windows while Present Windows is a glorified task switcher with fancy visuals. Gnome, Deepin, and some others decided to fuse both (+Dashboard +App Launcher FOSS counterparts) into a single action and ride the hype train started by Apple’s Mission Control, spawning some apparently multifeatured aberration with degraded usability in each of those initially different tasks.

      For those people who doesn’t multitask that much or are used to have all windows in full screen mode always, this a is great feature because they have everything at hand always. But once you start multitasking for real and have a dozen windows open at a time, thumbnails in a sidebars become as useful as a fork in a sugar bowl; you can’t really manage them and they offer you no useful information whatsoever…

      Now, about the Close Window (X) button. Plasma has it available for the Window Presentation view, but is missing in the Desktop Grid view, I agree with Baby Wogue that Plasma needs this button in both views.

      About the modal window and kickoff/app launcher thing; pure eye candy IMO, it can stay as is or be changed, I don’t care.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. “except for the theme itself, which can still be set separately because there isn’t a 1:1 mapping between KDE and GTK themes”

    Where is this setting? Not that I am going to install any theme, I am not into that anymore, I am more of change a color of my theme and just use what came with the system out of the box kinda old computer user. Yes “get off my lawn type.” Last time I change any theme was back on Windows XP and GNOME 2.x days. 🙂 Just curios as to where the setting is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > Where is this setting?

      Currently on Plasma 5.17.X it’s burried at Systemsettings -> Appearance -> Application Style -> Gnome/GTK application style -> GTK designs

      Like

      1. Thank you, but I was referring to 5.18. I found it, Gnome/GTK application style has been moved into a button now. But I did notice GTK 2 application do not take custom colors, they are stuck with default Breeze, at least in my test so far (Kubuntu 20.04).

        Like

  6. So many good things here to appreciate! Improved scrollbars, better Get New Stuff, cleaner everywhere… yes, this is definitely the release I’ve been waiting for! 🙂

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  7. > Scrollbars in the Breeze style for desktop apps are now wider and separated from the content view by a subtle separator line.
    > Note that on mobile we now use real overlay style scrollbars with no content layout hacks, but instead of becoming invisible, the scrollbar becomes tiny and hugs the edge so you can still see your place in the scrollable view.

    In the phabricator thread, there was a talk about making both of these an option, but it seems it was not retained? Will it materialize later (particularly if both options exist in the same codebase, why not just expose them)? I don’t think I’ve used a scrollbar with a mouse in the last 10 years, so I would really enjoy the mobile mode you described on my laptop because all I really need is an indicator that the view is scrollable and I would prefer if it didn’t permanently use up space.

    Like

    1. Yeah it turned out that we couldn’t really make both styles globally optional at the moment. The problem was always that true overlay style isn’t easily doable with a theme for QWidgets-based apps. So we could do overlay style for Plasma, and Kirigami apps, and non-Kirigami QML-using apps, but not all the classic KDE software suite, including Dolphin, Konsole, KDevelop, Krita, etc. So the only way to make the scrollbars consistent on the desktop was to use separated scrollbars everywhere.

      In the future maybe it will be possible though.

      Also worth mentioning that the previous style for QWidgets apps was not actually a true overlay style; it just mimicked the look. So you didn’t gain any space in the end.

      Like

  8. Finish Dolphin, please. The file manager is the first thing a user sees. In the case of KDE, he’s pretty damn handsome, but incredibly dumb.

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      1. The ONLY thing I can think of that they may be talking about, is that some of the extra add-on “services” are dead, or don’t work. That may be it. Not sure though.
        Also not sure if those have been fixed or removed or not, so I could be lost haha

        Like

      2. 1. The problem of working with network resources. It occurs more often than we would like. A huge number of errors when opening files. I think this can be solved by introducing automatic reconnection in case of an error. And if the error counter is more than N – stop trying. Messages with an error should be displayed in any case.
        When using other file managers (Nautilus, Krusader, Double Commander) – I do not observe problems at all. Or they use a similar mechanism that I described. Or they work more stable with network resources.

        2. I copy a set of files and folders and see two messages in a row. The first is the suggestion to replace or rename the folder. The second is to replace or rename the halyards.
        It can be combined into one modal window for files and folders. Please, remove checkbox “apply to all”, by changing it to the “replace all” button.

        3. Slow work with the network. A small project with a size of 500 kb of code is copied to the server for 30-60 seconds. Server connection speed is high 10-30 Mb / s. That is, the problem is precisely in the mechanism of work through ssh, ftp, fish.

        4. Waterfall messages when working with network resources. System notifications from kio cannot be configured. And you have two options: either you turn off system notifications completely, or you are washed away by the stream of these messages.

        5. Does not search for files, as baloo is used. If the directory is excluded from the index or the file is hidden, you will never find it. No search on file contents, only from baloo index.
        Dolphin search is not to be trusted. I have no choice and have to use KFind or use the Dolphin filter, since it at least works.

        6. Over the current 3 days, Dolphin (KDE Neon, recent updates) more than a dozen times crashed the OS. Without the ability to switch from DE to the terminal. And always this happened in different ways:
        – I restored the session, tried to continue working with a network resource connected via VPN. After 30 seconds, the system stopped responding.
        – I started transferring a group of files from Dolphin to VSCode. I didn’t get into the editor’s icon and the system immediately crashed.

        7. There is no restore tabs. I worked with 10 folders, closed Dolphin and when I open it I have to restore everything again. All file managers can do this, except: Nautilus, Dolphin, Windows File Manager =)

        8. You cannot add the root directory of the mounted drive to the “entry points”. We have to do this by creating a “garbage” entry point. And then edit it by changing the name and path.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for the detailed information. I’ve submitted a patch to implement #7: https://phabricator.kde.org/D11382. Hopefully it will make it into Dolphin 20.04.

          For the other issues, please file individual bug reports. Many of them are not universally reproducible, so without bug reports they’re unlikely to get fixed.

          Like

  9. Looks great again, looking forward to the 5.18 LTS version next month! 🙂 I really prefer the proposed scrollbar method, especially UX-wise, overlay-style scrollbars on top of content just seem wrong on desktops from a design perspective.

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  10. Yeeees, System Tray Settings major overhaul, Blueetooth notifications improvements, GTK applications visual settings are inherited from the Plasma (Qt) settings, fantastic.

    Simplifying what we had, improving and including new features.

    This close release of Plasma 5.18 LTS is really going to be terrific, i have no doubts about it.

    Plasma 5.19 starts with a overhaul of the System Settings Background Services, good start :).

    As always, thank you very much to everyone who make all this amazing project, software possible, (and the amazing KDE Community too), you really rock a lot.

    A huge hug to everyone :).

    Like

    1. It”s a bit complicated. The GHNS system can’t be used to install any software that needs to be compiled (except for AppImages, since those are universal by design). This limits it to software written in interpreted languages like Python. But a most KRunner plugins are C++, so all of those would have to be missing when you use the GHNS dialog to search for KRunner plugins. It wouldn’t be an amazing user experience.

      Possible solutions:

      – Rewrite all KRunner plugins in Python and require that all future KRunner plugins be written in Python. Drawbacks: huge amount of work and possible performance regressions

      – Add a feature to the GHNS system to support compiled binaries, and require that such binaries be submitted with pre-compiled versions for popular distros like Ubuntu, openSUSE, Arch, etc. Drawbacks: huge amount of work, not feasible for content submitted to compile their software for multiple platforms

      – As above, but have the store.kde.org backend compile the source code into binaries for all the different platforms automatically. Drawbacks: enormous amount of work. An interesting idea though.

      Like

        1. No worries, mistakes are normal. 🙂 I agree with you on that bug. In fact, it’s planned and the supporting infrastructure work is already in progress!

          Like

          1. That’s wonderful news!!! You really spoil KDE users with goodies like this ahahahaha

            I guess that means that when it’s ready we’ll hear about it here…

            Looking (impatiently) forward for this feature 🙂

            thanks

            Like

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