This week in KDE: Getting ready for Plasma 5.21

We spent the week largely working on polishing up Plasma 5.21 and fixing all the bugs you folks found in the beta! Or internal QA seems to be improving because there don’t seem to be as many this time around, and we’ve already got most of them fixed. Hallelujah! So hopefully 5.21 should be a fairly smooth release. Famous last words, eh?

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Fixed a case where Elisa could crash when moving to the next song (Matthieu Gallien, Elisa 20.12.2)

Spectacle no longer secretly stays running in the background if you cancel taking a rectangular region screenshot using the global shortcut (Meta+Shift+PrintScreen by default) (Antonio Prcela, Spectacle 20.12.2)

Pressing the Escape key in Konsole while the search field is visible now only closes it if it’s currently focused (Anton Maminov, Konsole 21.04)

The new Breeze Light color scheme is now applied to new user accounts as expected (David Redondo, Plasma 5.21)

The new System Settings Login page now lets you change the wallpaper as expected and remembers the session you selected when using auto-login (David Redondo, Plasma 5.21)

Wallpapers added to the list of available wallpapers can once again be removed (Cyril Rossi, Plasma 5.21)

Searching on Discover’s “Installed” page once again works (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.21)

Your old system monitor applets on panels now get correctly migrated to the new ones rather than disappearing (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.21)

Top- and right-positioned panels can now be resized by dragging in the direction you want to resize towards (David Redondo, Plasma 5.21)

Changing your Global Theme to one with a different color scheme now immediately updates the colors of GTK apps too, not just Qt or KDE apps (David Redondo, Plasma 5.21)

System Settings’ home page now lets you use the keyboard to open any of the pages in the “Frequently used” list (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21)

Authentication dialogs now work properly when using the optional Systemd Startup feature (Rex Dieter, Plasma 5.21)

The Plasma Wayland session now opens the correct number of kwin_wayland processes (one, lol) when using the optional Systemd startup feature (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.21)

GTK4 apps no longer still display window shadows when maximized (Jan Blackquill, Plasma 5.21)

There is no longer an odd one-pixel horizontal line at the top of the screen while viewing full-screen content in SMPlayer and LibreOffice and probably various other apps too, when using the new Breeze widget theme (Jan Blackquill, Plasma 5.21)

Task Manager window thumbnails for Firefox are no longer sometimes blank in the Plasma Wayland session (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.21)

Context menus for panel applets no longer bizarrely appear as a tiny standalone window in the Plasma Wayland session (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.21)

Middle-clicking the desktop to add a sticky mote with the clipboard contents now works again (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.21)

Really long monitor names can no longer blow up the layout of System Settings’ Display Configuration page (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21)

Plasma no longer freezes if you edit the .desktop file of a running program (David Redondo, Frameworks 5.79)

The Baloo file indexing service now properly indexes files in hidden folders if you’ve told it to do so (Stefan Brüns, Frameworks 5.79)

Okular’s search bar once again closes when you hit the Escape key (Albert Astals Cid, Frameworks 5.79)

The icon for Kickoff in Plasma’s “Alternatives” panel now reflects its new appearance (Frameworks 5.79)

User Interface Improvements

Gwenview’s inline video player now displays the current and remaining time next to the timeline (Madhav Kanbur, Gwenview 21.04):

When Kate’s embedded terminal panel is open, it now switches directories properly when a new document is opened (Jan Paul Batrina, Kate 21.04)

Restored the “scroll to switch displayed time zone” feature of the Digital Clock (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21):

The new Kickoff no longer switches between the “Applications” and “Places” tabs on hover by default; you need to click (Noah Davis, Plasma 5.21)

The new Kickoff now has a “Configure” button visible in the main UI (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21):

The Info Center app can now tell you whether you’re using X11 or Wayland (Méven Car, Plasma 5.22)

Desktop widget handles are now much more legible, especially when using a dark color scheme and a dark or visually busy wallpaper (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.22):

Plasma’s Audio Volume applet now remembers the last tab you were looking at even after Plasma or the computer are restarted (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.22)

Comboboxes in QML-based apps now change the displayed item at an appropriate speed when scrolling over them using a touchpad (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.79)

System Settings pages with grid views now adhere to the standard appearance style for hovered grid items (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.79)

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, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

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

37 thoughts on “This week in KDE: Getting ready for Plasma 5.21

  1. Really looking forward to this release!
    I’m wondering if the Breeze Dark style is getting any love. I’ve seen very little mention of it, which concerns me, since eystrain is a pretty bad issue for me with light themes.


    1. It is a problem that is not being taken into account because most computer users are still young, but eye strain maintained daily for decades can lead to serious vision problems when our eyes are not so young and no longer recover so well from the aggressions.

      It’s far from perfect, but you can use this addon. I think it’s abandoned project, but as far as I know there’s nothing beter at this moment.


    1. I think I mentioned that last week. I know it improved even more, and given how much amazing work Waqar has been putting into Kate, I suspect it will improve again later! Listing the same improvement again and again makes people suspicious, like “why wasn’t it properly done in the first place?” even if that’s not really applicable. That’s why I decided not to mention it again.


  2. > when using the optional Systemd Startup feature

    Do you know what’s left to be implemented for the new SystemD startup for Plasma (before it will become enabled by default on 5.22)? or is it save to enable it once 5.21 comes out? will definitely test it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just QA, basically. I think everything’s implemented; we just didn’t want to turn it on by default towards the end of a development cycle.


  3. That’s a lot of great work! However… “Plasma’s Audio Volume applet now remembers the last tab you were looking at even after Plasma or the computer are restarted”. I don’t know if that’s a good thing… So now if I occasionally use the applications tab I’ll then have to remember to switch back to the main volume tab everytime? What if there’s an inexperienced user that accidentally clicks on the wrong tab and then the other day they start their computer and think it’s broken because they can’t find the main volume control? :/
    But otherwise thanks for all the hard work put into Plasma. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It already remembers the last-used tab when you close it and re-open the popup; the change that was made here is to additionally remember the last-used tab when the computer (or plasmashell) is restarted.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nate, if I recall from a while back, there were a few specific blockers keeping you from choosing Wayland over X on your personal, everyday machine. Has this changed?

    I’m patiently waiting for that day on my computers, but I’ve always felt like Wayland was making huge waves of progress each cycle in the last year or two.


    1. Not really. It’s getting better but I still experience a lot of breakage and papercuts sufficient to annoy me back to X11. And since I started re-mapping my ThinkPad-s ridiculous PrintScreen key to a right-side Meta key, not being able to do that on Wayland is now an additional soft blocker for me. 😦


    2. That means there should be a Wayland protocol issue opened on and thus the lack be tracked! 🙂


    3. Hi Nate,

      The Wayland protocol devs may leave the key mapping issue may be one that they are leaving up to the compositors, since the compositor now handles the input first I presume. This means the compositor can do whatever it pleases with the keys.

      That said, apparently this has helped some people:

      Good luck with that, this is a protocol where the sizes of windows are beyond the control of the application.


    4. Yes, in the Wayland world, everything is left up to compositors.

      However this doesn’t mean that the best approach is for every compositor to implement everything itself with no regards for how anyone else does it. That approach leads to mutual incompatibility when switching apps or compositors. For example your key re-mapping would break if you replace KWin with Mutter, or Plasma with XFCE. We already have this problem for screenshots: Spectacle doesn’t work on GNOME Wayland because Mutter uses a different screenshot implementation from the one KWin uses. It’s a mess without cross-desktop protocols for things.

      The ideal solution is to come up with a cross-desktop protocol first. When representatives from the major compositors agree on the protocol’s specs and implementation, it gets committed and then each compositors implements that protocol. That way everything works in a cross-compositor manner.


    5. “However this doesn’t mean that the best approach is for every compositor to implement everything itself with no regards for how anyone else does it. That approach leads to mutual incompatibility when switching apps or compositors.”

      Agreed, though I don’t think Wayland is the right place for this, since it isn’t relevant to an application communicating with a compositor per se.
      Perhaps another cross-desktop suite of protocols that deals with keyboard and input mapping, screencasts and screenshots, network transparency, audio, etc. would be better, though I am not aware of anyone working on such a thing.


    6. In the Wayland world, all input goes through the compositor, so KWin would have to handle the re-mapping. So it would be most appropriate to do it with a new Wayland protocol.


    7. About papercuts, there are three screen recorders probably worth mentioning:

      1) DeepIn: Has been defaced on Manjaro KDE since mid 2020, no single word about Wayland at all:

      2) SimpleScreenRecorder: Dev focuses on X11 only for the mid-term future:
      “So supporting the latest new APIs isn’t a super high priority for me, I prefer to focus on stability. Even with PipeWire support I will likely continue to recommend X11 for stability reasons for a long time.

      (…) So it will get there eventually, but for now X11 is the way to go.”

      3) Obsstudio: Looks like we get Wayland support for the next version!
      And loook, who helped achieving this: David Edmundson! We should praise him (and the rest of the obs team of course) once it is relased!! 🙂


  5. Hey Nate, great work as always. I was wondering – how do you find new changes across so many KDE projects? Do you read every project’s commit log or something?


    1. Great question, It takes a lot of time, believe me. 🙂 Here’s how I do it:

      – I triage all new bug reports, which results in me getting CCd on most of them. That way when a bug is fixed, I get emailed about it.

      – I subscribe to all notifications for all Plasma and Frameworks projects, and many apps. That way I see in-progress work and get emailed when something gets completed. This also gives me an opportunity to review open merge requests.


  6. Hi Nate, a question: the “hibernate” button feature that is shown in the new kickoff screenshot is enabled by default or you just added it.


  7. About the “How You Can Help” thing, could the requirements to help with translations be simplified?
    Most of us don’t have the time and certainly not the language skills or, let’s be honest, the desire, to translate long or highly technical texts, but we can correct short texts from programs and web pages on if it were as easy as editing texts in Wikipedia.
    If your fear vandalismus may be some kind of registration were neded, but something light, like registering on, or so, and that’s that; not inscribing to those tedious and overwelming mail lists that one finally abandons because only wanted to do small, punctual, corrections/translations.

    I believe that if the process were easier, much more people would collaborate, and it’s better to have 20 light collaborators than 2 heavy ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just noticed that the new System Monitor app hogs up at least 130MB of RAM and KSysGuard hogs 110MB. That’s a bit heavy for what should be resource monitors, surely!


  9. Oooh! Another upgrade to my crack pipe is coming! That, and there’s finally a firewall app integrated in the system settings. And the new launcher? Looking hot!

    Now we just need a application launcher that looks alike to Windows 7’s start menu developed by someone else to draw some more Windows 7 users in. For the sake of familiarity. You know 20% of Windows users are still holding on to 7?

    Again, great work, KDE Team!

    Liked by 1 person

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