This week in KDE: window thumbnails on Wayland

This week we got tons and tons of stuff done, including window thumbnails on Wayland! This much-awaited feature brings our Wayland session ever closer to parity with the X11 session. But wait, there’s more:

New Features

Konsole now lets you configure how dark inactive terminals become when using the “darken inactive terminals” feature (Tomaz Canabrava, Konsole 20.12.0)

Task Manager window thumbnails now work on Wayland! (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20)

Discover can now be used to perform updates of content downloaded through the Get New Stuff dialogs (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Plasma 5.20)

Plasma applets now feature an “About” page in their settings windows (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

Kate and other KTextEditor-based apps now show a zoom indicator in the status bar when the current zoom level is not 100% (Jan Paul Batrina, Frameworks 5.74)

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Opening an audio file from the filesystem in Elisa from Dolphin or KRunner or another app now works (Matthieu Gallien, Elisa 20.08.0)

Switching screens while in Okular’s Presentation Mode now works (David Hurka, Okular 20.08.0)

Fixed a case where KWin could crash when logging out of a Wayland session (Andrey Butirsky, Plasma 5.20)

In a Plasma Wayland session, XWayland no longer brings down the whole session when it crashes; it just restarts normally (Vlad Zahorodniy, Plasma 5.20)

Changing the list of active KRunner plugins now takes effect immediately rather than requiring KRunner to be restarted (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

The Search widget now respects the current list of active KRunner plugins (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

The mouse cursor no longer sometimes gets stuck when using screen rotation on Wayland (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20)

Edge swipe gestures and showing a hidden panel by tapping the screen edge now work on Wayland (Xaver Hugl, Plasma 5.20)

Adding a new network interface no longer messes up the display in the Networks system monitor (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.20)

Changing the systemwide scale factor now invalidates the Plasma SVG cache, causing SVG-based user interface elements throughout Plasma to be re-drawn with the correct scale, which should fix a wide variety of minor graphical glitches seen after changing the scale factor (David Edmundson, Frameworks 5.74)

The Baloo file indexer now skips files that repeatedly fail to index rather than repeatedly trying to re-index them anyway and failing in a loop that trashes your CPU (Stefan Brรผns, Frameworks 5.74),

User Interface Improvements

When applying a tag to a file in Dolphin, if the tags menu only had one item in it, it now automatically closes after applying the tag (Ismael Asensio, Dolphin 20.08.0)

The current date is now shown in the Digital Clock applet by default (Claudius Ellsel, Plasma 5.20)

Animation speeds throughout the Breeze Widgets and Decoration themes now respect the global animation speed (Martin Sandsmark and Marco Martin, Plasma 5.20)

It’s now possible to do multiplication in KRunner using “x” as the multiplication operator, not just “*” (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

KRunner now shows tooltips for entries that don’t entirely fit, so you now have a way to read the dictionary text (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

And yes, multi-line output is coming soon as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Minimizing a window no longer puts it at the very end of the Task Switcher; it now moves to the next position and there is no special handling (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

Made various fixes and improvements to the Breeze GTK theme: Sidebars in GTK Assistant are now readable, floating status bars are no longer transparent, the window shadow now matches that of KDE apps, and pop-up shadows now look nicer (Carson Black, Plasma 5.20)

The Get New [Thing] Windows now display more appropriate icons for their Update and Uninstall actions (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.74)

How You Can Help

Have a look at to discover ways to 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, youโ€™ll like it! We donโ€™t bite!

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

31 thoughts on “This week in KDE: window thumbnails on Wayland

  1. Wow! Big stuff! I can’t wait till the partial rendering patch for lima is merged, and the keyboard-method-unstable patch too. Plasma 5.20 should make for a great plasma mobile experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I can. However if you run those apps in native Wayland mode, the problem disappears, so that’s clearly the solution. The number of apps that have high DPI support on X but not native Wayland support is probably not that bg, and getting smaller all the time.


  2. That’s an welcome bug fix for Baloo. Whenever I set up a new machine with Plasma the first thing I do is disable Baloo to stop it bogging everything down. Thank you.


    1. There are always corner cars and problems, but Baloo hasn’t bogged down my laptop since 2018, you should give it another try. Run `balooctl start` and `balooctl monitor` in a terminal when you’re doing other stuff. If you need full-text search of PDFs and ODF files ripgrep isn’t enough.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Nate, thanks for the change in the behavior for the task switcher and the minimized windows.
    After 10+ years with KDE, I never succeed to work with the actual behavior and always want to alt-tab to get the last minimized window ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Will the Wayland version have the ability to turn off that sodding transparency that has plagued us all so much in Plasma5?


    1. That’s not related to Wayland. You’re welcome to use a Plasma theme with no transparency right now, on X11. I know there is at least one which is a clone of the default Plasma theme but 100% opaque. Sounds like that might meet your needs.


  5. I beg you, please don’t delete this. I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused.

    It’s just… I’m desperate to the point where nothing brings me joy anymore, and every now and then I stumble upon a news article that makes me feel even worse…

    I’ve recently read about Elon Musk making yet another step towards making cyborg implants a reality… And seeing how smartphones have turned out… They’ll surely be proprietary nightmares advertised as “secure and private”, people will swallow them right up, and they’ll become as important for living a normal life as smartphones are today… Except a smartphone you can put in a soundproof box, but a cyborg implant, you know…

    And worse yet… People actually care about privacy (see, all that’s left is to educate them how to actually protect themselves, yet those with the necessary influence (such as yourself) seem to just not understand how important spreading awareness is…

    I genuinely thought that anti-feature reporting is only absent in KDE because the idea simply hasn’t occurred to any of the KDE developers, so implementation and an official search for a neutral party who can maintain an anti-feature database would begin soon after I propose it…

    There’s one more thing I don’t understand. How can you be so joyful and positive these days? There’s clearly something you know that I’m missing. Please tell me. I could really use some hope right now, even if it’s just a tiny little bit…


    1. 2020 has turned out to be pretty crappy year, yeah. But there’s always hope. If you can’t see it, that means that you’re depressed. Like, formally, diagnosably depressed. You can’t see it because of your depression; you think that it’s actually the whole world that’s all bad and your reaction is perfectly logical, because that’s what happens when you’re depressed. I’ve been there before so I know what it looks like. My advice to you would be to see a therapist. Professionals really can help you with this kind of thing.

      Barring that, spend less time on the internet. Or at least, the corners of the internet where you’ve been spending your time. The internet can be a terribly depressing place if you spend lots of time reading doom porn news or in communities full of trolls or angsty teenagers and young adults who think they have everything figured out and it’s all bad.

      So basically: less internet, and more professional help.


    2. “But thereโ€™s always hope [citation needed].” So no, I’m not depressed. There’s a word for “depression” that’s actually grounded in reality: despair. Can’t you see it? Governments and corporations see us as nothing but livestock, all while most people carry proprietary spy cameras with them all the time without realizing the dangers…

      Look, I used to be an optimist myself. When Snowden’s revelation came to light, I expected it to be a watershed moment for the Stallman’s movement, with a huge fraction of the population migrating to FOSS, but not much actually happened… Then came Windows 10 spying, China’s social credit score, and more, yet noting changed…

      I do still see some potential for hope: governments and corporations clearly can’t monitor and control everything yet, and more and more people are waking up and recognizing the importance of privacy.

      Bad news: whether or not that potential is realized depends entirely on those with the necessary influence such as *youself* choosing to spread awareness and educate people how to actually protect themselves, and I this just doesn’t seem to be happening. Far too many are fooled by snake oil dealers such as VPN providers and are unaware of the deeper and scarier truths such as the existence of the Intel Management Engine…

      I hope that influential FOSS developers will realize the need for spreading awareness by all means possible sooner rather than later… Unless all of them have been blackmailed into staying silent about privacy… What a scary thought…


    3. Nobody has been blackmailed or bribed into not caring about privacy. That kind of paranoid speculation is indicative of needing professional help. This isn’t meant disrespectfully; therapy isn’t a punishment or an admission of craziness. It helps. Now, sometimes they really are trying to get you, but most of the time they aren’t. People like us are small potatoes. Those with the power to do something like that don’t even know we exist; we’re not on their radar screen.

      None of what you’re saying is wrong per se, but the way you sometimes express it with this panicky paranoid rhetoric makes people not want to take you seriously. If you want to have more effectiveness about something that you’re clearly very passionate about, being a better messenger is priority #1.


    4. > None of what youโ€™re saying is wrong per se

      So you admit I’m right, claim to not have been blackmailed, are a way better messenger than I am, and yet you haven’t immediately started scouting out people who can help implementing my proposals and/or implementing them yourself…

      Please explain why. Is there something wrong with my proposals? Are they not as urgent as I think they are? Why? Otherwise I’ll be forced to conclude that either:

      – You’ve indeed been blackmailed.
      – You’re in denial, and are, deep down, even more convinced than I am that we’re doomed. Your optimism is just a facade…


    5. That kind of binary thinking is bound to generate misery. You seem like a classic example of a smart person who’s outsmarted yourself. I recognize it from the period of my own life when I was miserable because the most important issue I cared about seemed to be ignored by others, and the only alternative seemed like the apocalypse. That was a pretty sucky time in my life. Luckily, I mostly outgrew it and gained wisdom and perspective as I aged. The way the world looks when you’re in your twenties turns out not to be the most accurate. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The reason why I haven’t dropped everything and become a privacy crusader is because priorities and focus are subjective, and in my opinion, the issue is not as urgent as you assess it to be. Your judgment that it’s the the most important issue in the world and everyone must drop everything to address it is just that–a judgment. An opinion. A viewpoint. Not a fact. Your opinion of this issue’s urgency is colored by your unique personality, assessment of risks present in the world, and the menu of options available to you for how best to spend your time. But others have different feelings about it.

      Again, if you want to be more effective regarding a topic that’s clearly very important to you, I would strongly recommend improving your communication skills. Try to avoid coming off as paranoid and hysterical. Don’t get locked into binary thinking wherein we’re doomed if we don’t drop everything and follow you. Pursue a path of more action, and less talking. Do, don’t say. People follow those who are already taking action themselves. They don’t tend to follow people who are all hat and no cattle. ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Pretty good news, as always, I can only repeat my happiness about the future Plasma 5.20, for real, I’m pretty sure that’s gonna be a huge release, each time I see new Wayland feature, getting us a little bit closer to the feature parity with X11/Xorg, bugfixes, etc.

    I can’t wait to keep reading about them, week after week.

    As always, I cannot express my thanks to you enough. Special mention, as it must be, to you Nate, for all this amazing work you do and for keep us informed about what happens under the hood, week after week, you really rock a lot :).

    I really hope you’re everyone fine and healthy, you and all your beloved ones.

    Receive a huge, sincere, fresh & virtual hug ^^.


    1. Oh yes, Plasma 5.20 is going to be a huge and awesome release!

      Thanks for the kind and comforting words, as always. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you and yours are doing well too in these trying times.


  7. How far off is Wayland SDDM? Beside the title bar’s application menu button, I think we’re more or less ready for full Wayland experience (sans the XWayland windows, of course).

    Though I’m very sad 5.19.4 release on KDE neon User Edition broke Wayland session and forcing me to use X.


  8. Wait a minute, how do you make Krunner define words for you?

    I’ve turned on the checkbox for Dictionary in Krunner’s config (and used the keyword), but it doesn’t seem to be defining anything for me.


    1. Yeah there were some bugs that made it not work before. They were fixed quite recently, so if you’re not using a rolling release distro, it’s likely that they’re still broken for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Whoa! Great stuff as always!
    Now I am pretty sure I’ll be using Wayland by default by the end on this year. There must be something great in this year of 2020, eventually, right before the asteroid impact, right? ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Haha, hopefully we all survive…

      Yeah I’m painfully close to using Wayland by default myself. I’m just missing better HiDPI support in Spectacle, a fix for non-default task switchers having UI glitches, and improved reliability for Klipper and Firefox interaction.


  10. Yes! Thank you, this is really great news! I have Wayland on both my personal machine running Kubuntu and my work laptop running Debian testing (my work Desktop is stuck on X11 thanks to Nvidia and Qt incompatibilities). Thumbnails is probably the biggest UX piece missing in my daily flow.

    The Icons-only task manager and date in the digital clock are literally the first UI tweaks I do when setting up a fresh system. I’ve asked my employer to increase its donation efforts for KDE and I’ve managed to persuade more than a couple of colleagues to ditch their Mac refreshes for Linux next time around. Awesome work!


    1. Nice, that’s great news! I love hearing about multi-user deployments of our software. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Is there anything else you/your employer needs? Any pain points? Anything we can do better at?


    2. We’re ditching cinnamon as the default and testing various environments – mainly because of Wayland support (or lack thereof). We’re a very large Linux user (have 10s of thousands of desktop users) and a thriving internal KDE community.

      Biggest reasons include improved long-term security and a lot of 1080p laptop screens in the fleet and 4k monitors needing per-screen scaling. Not sure what’s needed, this kind of work goes a long way though!


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