2020 KDE roadmap: mid-year update

Here’s a mid-year update on the 2020 roadmap I proposed six months ago:

FUSE mounts to better support accessing remote locations in non-KDE apps: DONE

kio-fuse was released in beta form early this year and is already packaged in many distros. It’s working great! The final release will happen later this year.

Privilege escalation in KIO and Dolphin: AT RISK

It turned out that there was more work remaining here than I had anticipated. Unfortunately nobody seems to have the critical combination of domain knowledge, interest in working on it, and time to do so. Assistance on https://phabricator.kde.org/D7563 would be appreciated to help make it happen this year.

Improved Samba share discovery in Dolphin: DONE

This was implemented for Dolphin 20.04. By all accounts, it’s working quite well!

Auto-rotation for tablets, convertibles, and other hardware with rotation sensors: DONE

This was implemented for Plasma 5.18 and works on Wayland (getting it working on X11 is a lost cause, apparently). If it isn’t working for you on Wayland, it’s likely that you don’t have the iio-sensor-proxy package installed, or your hardware isn’t supported by the kernel yet.

Implement more of the proposed visual design changes to the Breeze style and KDE apps: ON TRACK

Work is proceeding at a good pace. The new System Tray design was shipped with Plasma 5.19. We’re targeting 5.20 for the new application appearance and patches are landing. Things are on track.

Better wallpapers in the extra wallpapers repo: AT RISK

This is blocked on implementing a wallpaper cache. I took a stab at it for Plasma 5.18 but it turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated and I kind of got demoralized and dropped it. Need to resume the work.

Per-screen scale factors on X11: UNLIKELY

Focus has shifted toward Wayland in a big way, and for the past few months, veteran KDE developers have been smashing Wayland problems left and right. They’ve gotten clipboard support working with Klipper and going between Wayland and XWayland windows; made Spectacle work properly; fixed a number of drag-and-drop issues, and are very close to finishing task manager thumbnails, screencasting, and more! Given the progress and momentum, there’s a strong desire to make Wayland finally usable rather than hack things into X11 that it was never designed to support and are unlikely to ever work properly.

Inertial scrolling throughout Plasma and QML apps: UNLIKELY

No work has happened here. A lot of the issue are in Qt itself and are very challenging to resolve, especially on X11. There may be more hope for getting it done on Wayland.

Power/session controls on the lock screen: AT RISK

I started implementing this and got it kinda-sorta working but then lost motivation and forgot about it. Sorry about that. I need to get back into it.

Well there you have it! Of course this is just a tiny fraction of the stuff actually going on, it’s just what’s relevant to the proposed roadmap I outlined earlier.

As always, if you want to see these things happen faster, please feel free to help out! The code is public and the people are friendly. πŸ™‚ What do you have to lose!? Nothing, that’s what!

39 thoughts on “2020 KDE roadmap: mid-year update

    1. That is unfortunate to hear, been checking the fabricator post every couple of weeks to see if there is progress.

      This is highly anticipated change for a lot of people if we consider the internet buzz it evoked when it was first announce so hope it gets some transaction soon and that it doesn’t fall away as a mere design discussion.


    2. Need to add though the amount of work the KDE team has put in over the past couple months does not go unnoticed and is very much appreciated

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey, nice work and summary as always.

    What I am going to say is just an outsider perspective, it seems to me that KDE is missing some sort of grandiose plan, something that would excite everybody including all of you. I’d go as far as to say that KDE is in a boring phase, just like any big company out there.

    For as long as I can remember (I’d say KDE4 days) Plasma has been in “bug fixing mode”. KDE4 brought a lot of revolutionary, a vision a challenge for us all… But now things seems to be stale, kinda boring. So boring indeed that a rather (historically) dull desktop such as GNOME has more exciting news than Plasma, every month.

    Am I right or is it just an outsider thingy? If so, could you write up some of the changes that you foresee?

    Some questions:

    – Hybrid SSD seem to be too complicated. Would you give client side decorations another chance? The current state of things is quite bad (iirc you said so as well), we are stuck with something using vertical space that does little to nothing. Perhaps, it might be time to embrace them, try to improve them (like you have been working on making GNOME CSD integrate with plasma).
    – Electron apps integration, they are here to stay and they do not integrate well with Plasma.
    – Unclutter apps, again iirc you mentioned something around these lines but little has been seen.

    Please, do not misunderstand me, as a KDE fan I do appreciate a huge deal all the papercuts you all are working on, I am just wondering if we can expect something else, perhaps once wayland is done.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. > So boring indeed that a rather (historically) dull desktop such as GNOME has more exciting news than Plasma, every month.

      Can you please give some examples what would be “exciting” for you?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Plasma 5 has reached a maturity level where the developers can finally start focusing on the minor details, like focusing on the amount of pixels between icons in the system tray. This is great and brings about a more stable and coherent DE which like @ongun mentioned results in a DE that gets out of your way and let you focus on your daily tasks.

      But still people need something to talk about, something to be excited about. As @Nate mentioned kio-fuse is a major feature but for the non-technically minded this is not exciting, personally I was just excited to find out dolphin can finally mount ISOs.

      With 5.20 coming up there is an expectation in the air that it should be an important release if for no other reason than it being the big “20”. A large visual change or improvement, something that enhances the workflow or changes how people perceive the way they are doing things will definitely get the tongues wagging. I take as an example the new kickoff menu, it would definitely be a great addition.

      Just my 2c’s and perception.


    3. – Major restyling to catchup with the times (apps, icons, plasma, SDDM)
      – A more streamlined user workflow. Not even Windows is “document based” anymore, plasma still is.
      – Fingerprint support
      – Better integration with electron apps (same way as GTK integration has been worked on)
      – Better integration with flatpak (task switcher doesn’t show icon, most apps disable KDE portals somehow)
      – HiDPI support (yes, we are still not there yet)
      – Maps application
      – Smooth Nextcloud/dropbox/gdrive integrations

      The latest exciting thing I remember from the community has been KDE-Connect and perhaps KItinerary (but to use the later you have to use KMail and co).


    4. Interesting point of view. I agree that KDE seems to be perpetually in bugfixing mode–however that doesn’t mean that we don’t implement major features. kio-fuse is one such major feature. You may consider the lack of it to be a bug, but the lack of any useful feature could be seen that way! πŸ™‚

      In a lot of ways being in bugfixing mode is a good place to be. It means your software is mature and stable overall. It means that people can trust it. It means that hardware vendors can consider shipping it on their products.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. I kinda disagree that kio-fuse is a feature, it is something that everybody expected to work but it wasn’t. In the eternal debate of Bug vs Feature I lay on the side of “If the user perceives it as a bug, then it is a bug” (I work on QA, this is kind of a mantra for us).

      So, when a user browsed Samba and tried to open the file with Libreoffice and it did not work, that was perceived (is) as a bug, not a feature.

      It is ok to be in bug fixing mode, KDE/Plasma should be wherever the people making it wants to. I was just giving my two cents.


    6. I am quite happy with my desktop being “boring”. For me the best OS is the most boring one. It should stay out my way. KDE is extensible enough so I can bend it to work with my customizations and it is designed well enough for plugins so it doesn’t look like a freak.

      I don’t like SSDs. A sizeable number of KDE users also don’t. CSDs are inefficient for desktops and hard to design/maintain. I like traditional desktop environments they do their job well enough and don’t get in the way. GNOME and its CSD / tablet oriented framework is the opposite. It tries to bend *me* to work with their desktop but I am not going to bend to “understand” their inefficient ways of “desktop-computing”. I go to the length of patching GTK myself to remove CSDs. If an app refuses to work without them so be it. I will uninstall it. If none of the apps work on Linux I will use the Windows equivalent. I am quite pragmatic and I don’t care about the tools as long as they do what I want and how I want. I think GUIs are more efficient than CLIs and try to use GUIs if I have option to do so. KDE works, it doesn’t drive me insane and I can easily forget that it was there. Not so much with other OSes and DEs. I don’t think I am alone in this matter. KDE gets many users just because it is “boring” but featureful.

      Electron uses GTK on Linux. It is a fight against the current to integrate it while KDE uses its competitor Qt. Electron or GTK should put some effort to work with KDE. It is one of the oldest desktops in Linux universe and has a large user base. KDE puts unnecessarily large effort for GTK compatibility maybe guys at GNOME should also do something, eh? XDG desktop portal relieves some pain points but some of them are still there.

      Liked by 2 people

    7. I think the CSD – SSD situation could be solved by an even more hybrid solution: Windows reserve 2 spaces in the layout of their topmost horizontal row of elements (be it the menu bar, toolbar or a tabbar) at each end for window controls, which are provided by the WM, a.k.a KWin. The window frame and shadows would also be provided by KWin. This way the option to customize which buttons to show and where remains, as well as the ability to customize the look of the decorations, but the titlebar doesn’t take up needed vertical space. To top it all off, this could be a toggle in Settings or even in the app’s window menu. The control area would also behave like the titlebar behaves now, in terms of dragging, double clicks and right/middle click, etc.

      The reserved space could be added by the app when constructing the layout. If it needs to show a menubar, that should have the control areas. Otherwise the top toolbar should have those. Then, the app would ask KWin to fill in those spaces with the controls. If there is no toolbar/menubar at the top, or it isn’t implemented in the app, the traditional titlebar could be shown. GTK apps would obviously have their own CSD instead of this.


  2. Is there any work on improving virtual keyboard support in Wayland? Since screen rotation was finally fixed (thank you very much!), the only major thing keeping me from fully switching to Wayland (besides a few bugs) on my Surface Pro 4 is the virtual keyboard. It works flawlessly with the login and lock screen, not so much during the desktop session. If you could please add a way to easily launch the virtual keyboard when an app doesn’t call it up, like a floating or tray icon (Onboard style), that would be great. Also, could you add extra layouts to the keyboard, like a full keyboard layout which includes CTRL, ALT, and functions keys?
    Thanks for all of your hard work! KDE Plasma (in Xorg mode) is the only DE I like to use on my Surface Pro 4 tablet!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. > Per-screen scale factors on X11: UNLIKELY

    This is kinda sad. I like this thing on wayland (since I have monitors with different DPI) but there is no global/titlebar menu support.

    Probably due to some restrictions in libwayland it is necessary to implement everything on server side or something like that. But I use global menu since, I dunno, maybe 2011 and titlebar menu from when it came out. And didn’t use KDE until it was implemented there.
    So it is kind of big deal and sadly it isn’t in priority list.

    But on the other side it may be possible to implement inline menu (like embedded in titlebar) in wayland.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s all right Nate, we are grateful and proud of you and all the KDE developers.

    I at least try to recommend Kubuntu to everywhere I can when I see people talking about privacy, security or problems with Windows.

    Hopefully a few will try it and like it so much that they will also recommend it to their friends and in time there should be more users, probably a few more KDE developers also or at least some donations to pay a few more people to help.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The inertial scrolling update was a hard one to read, as that is one of the interface features I miss most on Linux since coming over many years ago from Chromebooks. Is this easier to do focusing just trying on Wayland or is it equally difficult across the entire OS? Could/should the libinput folks have a bigger role here than just KDE?


    1. It’s tough because doing it in the way that Libinput expects (and the only way it can possibly work with with touch and on Wayland). Support needs to be implemented in each individual UI toolkit, which in practice means Qt and GTK. GTK already did this, which means that it already works fine for GTK apps and Electron apps, which use a GTK frontend on Linux. However Qt is the laggard and has not implemented this properly in two ways:

      1. Support in QWidgets scrollviews is not standardized and needs to be implemented on a per-scrollview basis, which is sort of horrible and unworkable

      2. Support in QML scrollviews sort of half works (it’s fine for touchscreens, but not for touchpads), but is afflicted by a variety of apparently very difficult to fix bugs that I’ve been told are fundamental implementation issues. I’ve heard that the Qt folks are hoping to improve things substantially in Qt 6.

      I know, I’m chomping at the bit for this, too.


  6. Thank you for all of your work and the KDE devs. Are there any plans to implement something similar to nautilus-sushi in Dolphin?


    1. When I first switched from macOS, I really wanted this (where the feature is called Quick Look). However nowadays what I do is keep Dolphin’s Information Panel open, which displays a small preview of the selected file which I find fulfils the same need.

      It’s possible to turn on Dolphin’s Tooltip to sort of approximate this. I’ve been meaning to make it into something more like Quick Look/GNOME Sushi.

      So many ideas, so little time…


  7. One thing that I have been thinking about for a while is an easy way to change between all the layouts KDE has.

    For example:
    * Global Menu at top of screen
    * Traditional application bar at the bottom (aka current default)
    * Latte Dock style

    While you can configure KDE to your hearts content and get it the way you want it, some shortcuts for exploring would help new and long time users alike.

    With that you could also greet users on first login with a “Welcome to KDE, Please choose a style” wizard with “Choose Layout” and “Choose Global Theme”.

    This onboarding wizard could also introduce users to additional features (virtual desktops/activities etc)

    Do you know if anything like this has been proposed? worked on?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see that you are still working towards it though – and as such – I definitely support this effort.

      One of the comments mentions that they do not want to support bad imitations of other DE’s – this is quite understandable. If I can suggest not naming the themes after other DEs and just showcase different KDE desktop configurations with their own names.

      Show case the Global Menu layout, maybe a Side Panel layout. (leave the mimics in the KDE store, but make them a possible recommendation to avoid hard dependencies).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, the explicit idea was to mimic other platforms which was perhaps the wrong approach. If you have ideas for alternative layouts that are more unique, I’m all ears. I don’t really change much about the default layout though, so I’m not super familiar with the other layouts that people like.

      We should probably continue this conversation in https://phabricator.kde.org/D24223. πŸ™‚


    3. That’s the thing, I haven’t changed much from the default layout either, but I keep seeing other features – but it’s too much work to figure out how to make it work (and potentially just to change back)


  8. Hello! Are there any plans to make the lockscreen fully customizable? I can’t find any reliable way of even changing the text position 😦


    1. Thanks! Good to see it’s known and being worked on. Happy that 5.19.2 seems very good so far after a somewhat unstable beta.


  9. Per-screen scale factors on X11: UNLIKELY – this seems not too much of a worry in my mind if the focus has switched to Wayland in a big way but when will we see the ability to set a primary monitor in Wayland? I use Wayland to be able to set resolution on my two screens but my laptop is always primary whereas the attached monitor should be. Any thoughts?


    1. I don’t know much about that right now but AFAIK Wayland doesn’t have a concept of a primary screen.


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