This week in KDE: Plasma 5.21 is finally here!

This week we released Plasma 5.21 and have been hard at work fixing the bugs you fine folks have found with it. 🙂 Frankly I’m pretty exhausted after a long week so let’s just get right into it:

New Features

Kate now lets you perform basic git operations from within the app, such as viewing diffs, staging, committing, and stashing! (Waqar Ahmed, Kate 21.04)

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Ark no longer asks for confirmation twice when you update a file in an archive (Jan Paul Batrina, Ark 21.04)

Keyboard repeat is no longer disabled (Jan Blackquill, Plasma 5.21.1, and most distros have already rolled it out early)

The Task Manager once again allows you to run non-distro-provided executable programs you’ve pinned to it (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.21.1)

The Plasma Wayland session no longer crashes on login when using an Nvidia Optimus laptop (Xaver Hugl, Plasma 5.21.1)

Trying to log out no longer sometimes just fails (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.21.1)

The fancy new Plasma System Monitor app introduced with Plasma 5.21 no longer crashes on launch when not using the optional Systemd startup feature (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.21.1)

Hard Disk Activity widgets now display the correct information again (David Redondo, Plasma 5.21.1)

Clicking on a screenshot in Discover now displays the correct one (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.21.1)

The Kickoff Application Launcher now works with a stylus (Mikel Johnson, Plasma 5.21.1)

Plasma no longer takes a long time to load when the splash screen is disabled when using the optional Systemd startup feature (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.21.1)

The KWin window manager regains an option to disable screen tearing protection and maximize the refresh rate irrespective of what the GPU says (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.21.1)

The back arrow in System Settings’ sidebar header no longer looks wrong when using a non-Breeze icon theme (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21.1)

Syncing your user settings to the SDDM login screen now actually causes non-default font settings to take effect there, at least when using SDDM 0.19 or later (Filip Fila and David Redondo, Plasma 5.21.1)

Section headers in the new Kickoff menu’s “All Applications” category are no longer lowercase when the first item in that section begins with a lowercase letter (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21.1)

Your wobbly windows once again wobble correctly (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.21.1)

Vertical and horizontal maximization now works in the Plasma Wayland session (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.22)

System Settings’ Window Rules page now enabled its “Apply” button as soon as you change anything, not when you move to something else (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 5.22)

KTextEditor-based apps no longer crash when you clear all of their bookmarks (Christoph Cullmann, Frameworks 5.80)

Plasma no longer crashes when you install a Windows app using WINE (Kai Uwe Broulik, Frameworks 5.80)

The buttons on either side of KRunner’s text field no longer display glitchy tooltips when no search results are visible (Noah Davis, Frameworks 5.80)

System Settings now arranges the columns in the correct order when using a right-to-left language and a large window size (Marco Martin, Frameworks 5.80)

Grid views in System Settings and elsewhere no longer display irritating misalignment for adjacent items where one has a subtitle and the other does not (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.80):

The Baloo file indexer no longer tries to index .swp swap files (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.80)

User Interface Improvements

Discover no longer truncates reviews shown on app pages (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21.1)

The System Settings Boot Splash page now uses the nicer new-style Get New [Thing] dialog (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.22)

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.

48 thoughts on “This week in KDE: Plasma 5.21 is finally here!

  1. > Kate now lets you perform basic git operations from within the app, such as viewing diffs, staging, committing, and stashing!
    WOW! I was dreaming about that! Huge thanks to Waqar Ahmed. I was hopping between native kde apps (Kate/Kdevelop) and JetBrains apps (PyCharm/PhpStorm) because their apps do have git integration thing and have some other cool features that are missing in kde apps. It is not very productive (for example, shortcuts are different; java application feel is a bit alien compared to native).
    I ended up with direct commands in terminal for git operations. But now it is finally here in kate! I have built kate-git from AUR (with minor PKGBUILD changes).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is still under active development and we are trying to stabilize it for the upcoming release so be sure to report any bugs / issues / annoyances you find (on bugzilla or as a comment on the “Kate repo – Git integration issue”)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you 🙂 Thanks @Nate, just trying to do what I can 🙂

      Yes, Pull and Push are the two major missing features. The main reason they are not added is because
      – I haven’t been able to come up with a good UI for it. If anyone has any ideas, please share 🙂 The current git UI was the brain-child of Dominik and we modified and built things around it.
      – Pull / Push are powerful operations and with power comes responsibility. We need to make them powerful, yet very obvious (in the way that user knows “exactly” what command is going to run behind the scenes.

      So if you have ideas, feel free to comment / share etc


    3. Feels like Kate is developing more and more into a full featured IDE. Next we can set break points and start debugging. 😛


    4. Well, the language server plugin is already a thing, so debugging is not too far fetched. Though as waqar144 mentions, designing decent GUIs ain’t no trivial thing 🙂


  2. Nate, could you please write a blog post how to use the virtual keyboard in Plasma 5.21 under X and Wayland for GTK and Qt apps? I believe I installed all necessary packages on Arch but it still does not show up and I do not find a KCM in the System settings to configure it. Reading along the social networks it seems I’m not the only one having trouble.

    Thanks so much in advance!! I would ❤ to make more out of my convertible running Plasma.


    1. That’s a good idea. I would have to figure it out myself first though lol. Once I do, I’d be happy to write a blog post about it!


  3. After upgrading to 5.21, I’ve noticed something off about the cover switch animation, which I’m using as the Alt-Tab switcher. When I keep pressing Alt-Tab in quick succession, I always get the rotation animation. But when doing it at a normal pace, I get the animation more or less half the time and an instant switch otherwise, which feels visually jarring. Is this by design?

    On a related note, the animation speed settings in the KCM doesn’t seem to do anything.

    Just wanted to make sure if all of this is an actual regression before filling a proper bug report. I see there were some deeper changes having to do with effect timing, but I couldn’t revert them easily enough to test.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me there is no movement as before, the next window preview shows up immediately, which looks badly. It seems the switcher is broken. It’s worth to check if the bug is submitted. Although… finding bugs is often impossible, and it’s easier to submit a bug, even duplicate to find a proper bug report.


    2. Have you tried spamming the Tab key while holding down Alt? This makes the animation appear every time for me. Not that it’s a fix, since I rarely ever press it this way.


    3. Yes, that is exactly what I did. Hold alt and then tap tab. First animation is correct, the rest just show up without animation, so the whole effect is broken.


    4. I also experience this issue, if you found a bug report I’ll happily chime in there.

      Also, it still happens in Plasma 5.21.1


    5. After the updates, the effect seems to kinda work. Meaning, sometimes the new windows shows up immediately without animation, sometimes with very quick animation, sometimes with super quick animation that you more perceive with your gut. So the effect is chaotic and not too good.


  4. Wow, that was quick! In overall, Plasma 5.21 is stable, no bigger issues and regressions (although there are some minor ones).

    I have a quick question: when global menus will be fixed in wayland? As far I remember, there was some entry that they were finally added to wayland, but they don’t work for me, so I assume they got broken again. Or maybe I’m missing something?


  5. I checked the Wayland session. I understand you are proud of the improvements but… I could see multiple issues after a few minutes of playing with windows in Wayland session. This still feels like an alpha, not a beta release and is nowhere near ready to be a production session, at least on a laptop with hybrid GPUs (standard hybird intel-nvidia mode):

    – global menu doesn’t work
    – minimizing and maximizing windows through double-click on titlebar is unreliable, depending on window size and sometimes produce random buggy effects on window: lack of buttons, some elements are missing, badly placed
    – windows are not resized as on X, meaning, when you unmaximze them, they are still huge and taking the whole screen, it’s almost impossible to find edges to adjust the windows side
    – one we get through horror of adjusting window size, surprisingly maximizing and un-maximizing through double-click on titlebar start to work finally reliable… what?
    – sometimes buttons get highlighted and it sticks instead being gone, sometimes they won’t get highlighted at all, not even sure what effect is correct, all within dolphin window
    – multiple monitors don’t work in hybrid session on Wayland! (no such issue on X)
    – when right-clicked on the CSD or SSD (titlebar), the menu has humongous shadow, which looks weird
    – on first Wyland run after the update, right-click on the titlebar created some colorful halo around the menu area (graphical cache issue), but on the next run the issue seems to be gone.

    The randomness and chaos of various bugs related with windows themselves, prevent even thinking about the work with any app, because we can’t get pass through windows management without problems. There are many show stoppers: lack of global menus is one for me, but the lack of multimonitor support on optimus laptops is a dead end for me.

    The amount of issues not only prevent us from testing wayland any further, it also discourages submitting bugs, because they pile up on every corner and we just want to escape to reliable X session and not think about it any longer.

    So far, no matter what amount of work you throw at wayland, what big goals and focus on it you have, it’s still far, far away from being the functional. Maybe on non-hybrid laptops, without nvidia it looks different but at the moment, we are flowed with hybrid laptops and a huge amount of users will be put off from Wayland, like I am.

    With every release I hope we are getting near, then within 5 minutes I get disillusioned that we’re still nowhere near to be ready :(.


    1. Ugh how horrible. 😦 That basically describes my Wayland experience three years ago.

      I hope you filed bug reports! That way there’s some hope of these issues eventually being fixed.


    2. I guess the next release resolution should be to improve Wayland on hybrid laptops 😛 as it seems we are 3 years behind in the development, because 3 years ago my Waland session was…. all black (plasmashell was crashing or non-functioning most of the time), so there is huge improvement from there, but still not enough to even stick with it for little longer. Few minutes is the max I could stand it, it’s simply still not usable.

      As to bug reports, there would be too many of them and the issues are too random. I believe that any wayland developer should simply use hybrid GPU laptop, personalize X session (theming and all) and then jump in to Wayland and pick a problem to work on right from the start.

      Ah, that reminded me about another issue I forgot to add:

      – gtk apps (like pamac on Manjaro) don’t respect the gtk theming buttons (different button icon, on the wrong side, no minimizue or un-maximize button)
      – gtk apps like pamac have a weird, ugly font rendering, reminding me many of wine apps that looked horribly

      However, I can submit the bug with humongous shadows or with gtk font rendering. The problem is, I work 10-12 hours a day, plus at weekends so if I’m not using wayland, I have a low incentive to file bug reports for it. However, I did screenshots of mentioned bugs so maybe I’ll file bug report, but I can’t promise anything.

      Does the lack of global menu also deserve a bug report? I thought that this is apparent as it lasts actually forever. Global menus from the icon in titlebar were showing up, but they were heavily bugged. I do remember you mentioning that global menus are finally there in Wayland. So either it never worked on hybrid laptops or it was broken, and I didn’t even notice a time when it worked.


    3. Chances are that if a bug is not reported, it might get neither reproduced nor fixed. So if you do find the time to report tome of the things that you found, you’re actually doing everybody a big service. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, also one thing. Multiple monitor support on Plasma.

    I can only say: it works. But how it works is a different matter. It’s usable, but… so full of broken mechanics (or lack of thereof, hence the randomness and lack of any logical behavior) and issues that it’s a very unpleasant experience.

    This is very surprising for me. One could think that developers are usually working on at least 2 monitors so multi monitor support should be a polished experience in Plasma. It is not. It’s far from it. Now that many of us do remote work, multi monitors are even more important.

    I had the idea about writing an article about how confusing and broken is multimonitor support on Plasma, especially using hybrid laptops, where you can switch between various GPU modes. This adds a whole another dimension of problems, but even the usual Intel Modesetting, Xorg session is pain enough. However, I need at least 2 continue hours to write that article, so… it stayed in the realm of unfulfilled ideas.

    So the roadmap for next releases is still full: better Wayland support on hybrid laptops (I believe we are in the process of getting it, since nvidia is adding some patches, some devs are trying to make wine and proton to work with wayland, etc.), multimonitor support on various GPU drivers (they behave very differently).


  7. Not that that I’m not grateful for the continuous development, I have to say that the old Kickoff launcher was better, more ergonomic.

    The new one doesn’t have the “most used” apps category.

    Hopefully, the old one will still work for some time


    1. The new one has that feature. Places tab > History or Frequently Used

      This exposes the fact that the Places tabs is rather mis-named, of course. We can fix that.


  8. The release looks really good.

    It seems that the Fonts DPI seeting has disappeared. Is it really gone? I used that setting on my laptop to get the correct font and UI size. Is this setting still available in a configuration file if not in the settings app.


    1. Thank you for replying.

      With 200% normal scaling, everything is too big, too much space is lost. With fractional scaling, the desktop is not nearly as sharp. The blur is noticeable.

      So 100% scaling with increased font DPI seemed like the good setting for a sharp, properly sized and readable desktop for me.


    2. Changing the font size does not work as well. Not all applications get their default font size from the same place, and it requires a lot more configuration. And then it is hard to not have applications with mismatch font sizes.

      The font DPI seemed to apply uniformly to all font with one configuration (and a restart of the applications).

      Surprisingly, Gnome still has a font scaling factor that has the same effect.


  9. In that system settings module picture: What’s the reasoning behind the last 3 dots in the “Install from file…” and “Get new Plasma styles…” buttons? Maybe it’s just me, but it looks odd and now I can’t unsee it. Maybe there should be dots for the OK butto too, you know for those early beta releases where things aren’t too smooth or safe: install this and tweak that and then lastly click a nervous “OK…” Let’s hope nothing blows up =)


  10. Thanks for a great release! Compared to a few years back, KDE has _once again_ 🙂 conquered my heart. So many functional and visual corners smoothened and polished, it’s certainly fun using it.

    On how to give back… You often write “once again X works”, I wonder if KDE has considered or is undertaking end to end testing, in e.g. Cypress style. This kind of contribution, employing a birds view instead of a deep dive, sounds more feasible to me (and e2e testing I consider fun!). Now of course, I’m just a anon coward on your blog, so no big promises at this point 😉 Just probing if there’s interest.

    (BTW I realize it would be rather hard to use machines to test animations such as the window wobbling, though for _other_ more functional tests it could be worthwhile.)


    1. If you wanted to contribute more tests, that would be tremendously useful!

      In KDE-land do have some unit tests, but not enough, and very few automated UI tests. The openSUSE people and Neon have some automated UI testing using openQA which can always stand to be improved.

      Most people find writing and maintaining tests to be a pain, so if you like doing it, that would be totally awesome, and much appreciated.


    2. I’ve had a look around for Qt specific tooling. The commercial top dog seems to be Squish from Froglogic. Their talk from 2019 piqued my interest: They make good arguments regarding object based vs image based testing, while preferring the more abstract object based approach. That’s also the route Cypress has taken, although they do not employ the high level Gherkin syntax. All in all, Squish seems to have taken all the good corners.

      But it’s non-free tooling. It’s debatable whether tooling must be free. Sqlite developers seem to take a rather pragmatic approach ( Though it would be nice to have anyone be able to create and run end to end tests for KDE applications. Looking more around, there already was a collaboration between KDE and Froglogic in the past ( I wonder what’s the current state of that and if it would be worthwhile rekindling.

      I wouldn’t mind looking into OpenQA as well. From a cursory view, existing test runners seem to be quite associated with distributions and testing everything from A to Z. My initial focus would be application centric and on developer ergonomics: have the tests in the application repo (like you would do with unit tests) and make it easy to run (even if it means starting a Neon VM). Given KDE is now using Gitlab, an eye an CI wouldn’t be bad either.


    3. In KDE, tooling must be free. Elisa and Okular have some object-based UI tests using Qt’s own testing framework. You could maybe take a look at those.


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