This week in KDE: some cool new stuff!

I have exciting news: this week the long-awaited new QML-based Overview effect has been merged! Currently it shows you all your open windows, just like the existing Present Windows effect–which it will eventually replace. And it does not dim the inactive/un-hovered windows. :)The visuals are not final, but here’s what it looks like so far:

Vlad Zahorodnii has been doing this work and it is still in the latter stages of development, but will eventually replace the existing Present Windows effect and probably the Desktop Grid effect as well, unifying them both into a full-screen overview of windows, Virtual Desktops and perhaps Activities too! The idea is to show you all your relevant window-related functionality in one place, similar to the popular 3rd-party Parachute KWin script, or macOS’s Mission Control overlay. It will ship in Plasma 5.23 and will need plenty of testing! So I would encourage everyone to try it out! To test it, install git master packages from your distro’s unstable repo or build everything from source or use KDE Neon Unstable or openSUSE Krypton. Then enable the Overview effect in the System Settings Desktop Effects page and invoke it with Meta+Ctrl+D.

New Features

You can now choose the status of your Bluetooth adapter on login: powered on, powered off, or remember the state it was in the last time the system was rebooted (the latter option is the new default) (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.23):

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Spectacle once again takes screenshots with the correct resolution in a Plasma Wayland session using a fractional scale factor such as 125% (Méven Car, Spectacle 21.08.1)

Fixed a regression in how Breeze theme window decoration buttons were rendered in GTK CSD headerbar windows (Emilio Cobos Álvarez, Plasma 5.22.5)

System Monitor no longer fails to display IPv4 address information when IPv6 has been disabled (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.22.5)

Fixed one of the ways that the lock screen could get broken on Wayland (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.23)

In the Plasma Wayland session, middle-click-paste now works between native Wayland and XWayland apps! (David Redondo, Plasma 5.23)

In the Plasma Wayland session, copying text from notifications using any means now works (David Redondo, Plasma 5.23)

In the Plasma Wayland session, DPI-based scaling once again works (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.23)

In the Plasma Wayland session, the cursor now shows animated icon feedback when launching apps (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.23)

Combobox popups in QtQuick apps now look correct in RTL languages (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.86)

User Interface Improvements

You can now copy text from Plasma notifications with the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut (David Redondo, Plasma 5.23)

Dragging windows around now only snaps them to the edges of other windows that are on the same virtual desktop (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.23)

You can now change the manual speed setting for wired Ethernet connections to more values (David Hummel, Plasma 5.23)

The Global Menu applet now has a more menu-like appearance (Jan Blackquill, Plasma 5.23)

The Media Player widget now always displays the album art and its blurred background at the same time, even when the album art is read from a slow location (Fushan Wen, Plasma 5.23)

The loading spinner has been unified across Plasma, KDE apps, and the splash screen, and it now looks like a spinning gear! (Björn Feber, Plasma 5.23 and Frameworks 5.86)

Shadows for Plasma popups, dialogs, OSDs, and notifications have been made a little bit more soft, visually pleasing, and more consistent with the shadows for app windows (Niccolò Venerandi, Frameworks 5.86):

…And everything else

Keep in mind that this blog only covers the tip of the iceberg! Tons of KDE apps whose development I don’t have time to follow aren’t represented here, and I also don’t mention backend refactoring, improved test coverage, and other changes that are generally not user-facing. If you’re hungry for more, check out https://planet.kde.org/, where you can find blog posts by other KDE contributors detailing the work they’re doing.

How You Can Help

Have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved 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.

55 thoughts on “This week in KDE: some cool new stuff!

  1. Great news!
    I see some nice features I was waiting for coming through 🙂 (middle click copy-paste, NomNomNom)
    Can’t wait to upgrade!

    5.23 looks great.
    Keep on the great works!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Woah, this is amazing stuff!
    I always thought that the window and activities ways of displaying were super shirt in KDE compared to mostly anything else. And that window dimming was obnoxious. Really really glad that things are about to change ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Is it possible to show windows in new overview in a fixed grid with all windows having the same size?
    Because the overview in your example looks maybe nice, but from a productivity standpoint it is not efficient to use because you have to search the position of desired window.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking the same thing. My mind can’t stand different size windows or overlapping windows in overview mode. It’s annoying. Would love for them to be just like in Parachute; Same size, evenly spaced, and arranged in a grid. Anything else looks messy to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I somewhere saw same-size windows in this overview, was it old Compiz? It looked confusing too me. I rather have dynamic sizes for windows, so I can just spot my large layout Amarok window under 4:3 layout browser windows or small text editors more easily. Feels more natural.

        Like

  4. When will KwinFT get merged? I had a lot of problems with my AMD laptop driving a 4K display. With many windows open it would often freeze at some point. Switching to KwinFT and it’s rock solid stability again.

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      1. His work is great. I get absolutely zero screen tearing on X11, there was always a little using Kwin. Makes my humble laptop feel like a premium Macbook running OSX!

        Like

      2. This is misinformation.

        It’s Roman that got all salty. It’s Roman who’s the one who has a sadly toxic attitude, and has been the one committing personal attacks.

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        1. I try to have a rather chill attitude in general. I wasn’t happy with the technical and organizational direction of KWin and besides trying to demonstrate a radically different approach with KWinFT I formulated my criticism also in my blog. If you call this already a toxic attitude, then so be it.

          But for open source development I would rather have technical arguments and if necessary also fundamental discussions about the nature of a project made in the open than behind closed doors in some company setting.

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          1. Thank you Roman for your amazing and important work on KWinFT!

            Indeed, the points you made about technical arguments and project direction are important and needed for any open source project to continue. The social drama tends to descope technical progress and replace it with a turf war that cannot be won, because there will be always someone who gets offended and call the other side “toxic”. Unfortunately, it’s very often the people using this specific word (“toxic”) that are unable to construct a meaningful counter-argument and just shut down the communication completely.

            I wish you all the best with your fork!

            Like

    1. Merging it back would only create the same issues the fork was created to avoid. There’s no point and KWinFT should even change their name and find their own identity. It’s better for users if we have competition in the compositor space. I want both projects to be well funded and with many developers.

      In a more distant future I expect Plasma components to be able to run under sway, wayfire and even Mir based compositors. That’s possible if they use protocols.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It can’t be “merged”, as if it was that simple. KWinFT is moving more and more away from KDE. It’s going to become a wlroots-based compositor. I think it’ll diverge to the point of incompatibility soon.

      Like

  5. What an awesome week!

    I have a question regarding:

    > In the Plasma Wayland session, middle-click-paste now works between native Wayland and XWayland apps! (David Redondo, Plasma 5.23)

    Will it be possible to disable middle-click-paste for touchpads (explicitly) on KDE Wayland? 🙂
    On X I haven’t found a real working solution to this annoying problem of accidentally pasting.

    Like

    1. Yeah, I’d like optional (and perhaps even disabled-by-default) middle-click paste, too. Inadvertent pasting can be really annoying sometimes.
      I was also unable to deactivate middle-click paste, apart from completely disabling the middle mouse button which can’t be called a solution …

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, so many papercuts preventing the usage of Wayland sessions have been eliminated at last!
    Looking forward to seeing a way to set a primary display under Wayland session, then I’ll be ready to switch for good.
    Or pls explain how can I set my Plasma panel with lots of applets on it on the external monitor and not have it lost when disconnecting and reconnecting such monitor but (instead) have a smooth transition of it to and from the laptop display.
    It is a problem that partially exist even in X11 (widgets located on a secondary display are lost when primary external display is disconnected). Coupled with Nvidia Optimus technology, it forms a disastrous state of affairs, because Nvidia-driven displays have their own set of widgets, and all this gets way too complicated and thus unusable.

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    1. We aren’t planning to re-introduce the concept of the primary display, but we are planning to fix the bug that causes your containments (desktops/activities/panels/sets of widgets/wallpapers) to be swapped or reset in multi-screen setups. And we are also working on a way to let you manually move, swap, or clone containments across screens.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. And yeah: finally a great alternative to Present Windows, which was dead on delivery (unusable) with such strong dimming effect by default. Now there’s some parity with Gnome / Pantheon and Plasma is moving towards more touch-friendly experience. Only touch gestures are still left out of focus but not for long I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, touch gestures really need priority and attention! Plasma seems to be the only DE without them (working properly).

      Like

  8. > but will eventually replace the existing Present Windows effect and probably the Desktop Grid effect as well

    Do you mean we will loose the desktop Grid effect ? 😦

    That is really not the same tool and same usage, and it’s something only KDE (as far as I know) offers…
    It would break a lot of workflows :-[
    To me it would almost ruin the point of having several virtual desktops for multi-tasking: not having the ability to visualize (and reorganize) in an instant all (active) windows in all virtual desktops, in an exhaustive, very visual, global overview such as grid view, to me that makes multi-tasking via virtual desktops much more painful¹.


    Personally I use it all day, combined with the Present windows effect (but in this effect I show only active windows, while in grid view I show all of them, including minimized ones).
    On both a desktop big screen and a 17″ screen (with 9 desktops), and used it in the past with even a 13″ screen (with 4 to 9 desktops).

    About that last point : I would understand that a more Parachute/Mission control-like tool handier on a small screen (laptop, …) for most use cases, yet I don’t think grid view is not useful in a tiny screen.

    Grid view *is the killer feature* that made me choose and stick to KDE…
    (and it’s not for lack of adoring other DE, but I always came back to KDE¹)

    > similar to the popular 3rd-party Parachute KWin script, or macOS’s Mission Control overlay.

    For my part, if I wanted a Parachute/Mission control-like feature, I would have gone for Gnome, which already offers it very well.
    (no trolling intended, that a real user story…)
    But for some people that’s far from as useful as a real grid view.

    I have nothing against adding this as another possibility (it’s even better if people can choose the tool that adapt to their workflow), even by default. I would understand there is some usability flaws in the grid view, that makes it harder for non-tech people to use it for instance, and that might be a “quite” niche (~power user) feature. No problem with that, if you find a better solution for such a wide use case.

    But don’t make it a “replacement” for grid view, please 🙏

    ¹ to be precise, I almost no longer use virtual desktops without a grid view, because it becomes harder and slower to use than traditional workflow (ie. minimizing windows), and I tend to forget what is “waiting” in the others virtual desktops…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I had a feeling we would hear from the hardcore users of the Desktop Grid effect. 🙂

      We plan to make it able to do the same thing as the Desktop Grid effect. I think it would make sense to let the user choose how they want desktops represented: with a big giant grid that takes over the whole screen (as with the current effect) or with a strip integrated off to one edge of a big view of windows on the current desktop. This way we should be able to please people who like both styles.

      Like

      1. That’s excellent news, highly appreciated ! 🚀🚀

        A quick note : to me, it’s important to keep a visual relationship with how the windows are distributed between all virtual desktops (a thing the current grid effect does perfectly well).

        Like

  9. I appreciate the direction kde is taking with overview. One thing o would request is that a blur or opacity effect be added to the background. It gets very difficult to differentiate windows and backgrounds otherwise with some wallpapers

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad that the Present Windows effect gets touched again. But I have a few fears about copying macOS’ approach: Firstly, it is incredibly useful to present windows of all workspaces simultaneously (if you want it). I currently have a screen corner (and mouse button via xbindkeysrc + touch gesture via libinput-gestures) to activate Present Windows of all workspaces. And two other corners for current workspace only and current application only. That’s not for everyone, but a mighty tool for a power user. If macOS’ (and Gnome’s) view becomes the new standard, I cannot see all my open windows of all workspaces at once. If this new concept boils down to just a workspace miniature view at the top in addition to the current effect and you still can choose to either show only current workspace windows or all workspace windows, it could be an okay way. I understand that Apple’s approach is the way to go for notebooks with smaller screens than a PC monitor and probably more intuitive, but it’s not the best for everyone. Also eliminating the grid effect doesn’t sound wise from a desktop power user perspective. It’s super convenient to see all your open windows _on_ their workspaces in an e.g. 1:4 scale factor. Way better to work with than tiny workspace previews like in macOS and Gnome. I hate to be the conservative voice here but I just want to point out to this rather delicate workflow intervention and would advice to do this with much caution and community feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m also worried about this.

        I use these three effects separately:

        1. Present Windows (all desktops)
        2. Present Windows (current desktop)
        3. Grid

        If I understood your previous response correctly, you would make it possible for the user to choose which variation of the effect they prefer. But I don’t prefer any of them. I use all three of them in different situations.

        It’s nice that you’re adding new things, but do you really have to remove existing functionality?

        Like

  11. In Overview effect there should be icons on those windows because if there a lot of them they become so small that it is hard to recognize witch represents what application, and on tope of that user can have two or more windows of the same app.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “new QML-based Overview effect” Nice!

    “but will eventually replace the existing Present Windows effect and probably the Desktop Grid” Nooooooooooooooooooooo…

    Seriously, think this trough, guys. Replacing a workflow for a less productive one isn’t something that will be widely well received if it didn’t have proper consideration backing it up, like factual UX stuff aside from “everyone asks for it ‘cuz Apple did it”.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have a question. With this new Overview effect, will it remain possible to present only the windows belonging to a single application?

    One of the things I really like is to set the grouped window list applet to do a Present Window effect to select the window when I click on the icon of an app that has multiple windows open (Unity on past versions of Ubuntu worked the same). I’d like this behaviour to be preserved in future versions of Plasma.

    Like

  14. Well, well … I have waited a long time for the animation when starting applications on wayland and now it finally seems to be real! It may seem trivial, but it is not.
    Great job, thanks everyone, I am waiting for Plasma 5.23 on my Tumbleweed as soon as it is released. A greeting.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. @Nate I wanted to ask you about Falkon, is it still supported? I see it hasn’t gotten any updates in some time and being a browser that I use as an alternative, I wanted to know if it’s still maintained software. Thanks bye

    Like

    1. It depends on your definition. Its maintainer has kind of disappeared, which leaves it community-maintained. However this is the state that a lot of KDE apps find themselves in, including big and actively developed ones like Gwenview and Spectacle.

      Like

  16. Wow, I was just thinking about Bluetooth. I thought that the fact that it turns off after reboot is a bug or a wrong setting, and wondered where/how can I fix it, and it turns out, the settings will come out in the next Plasma version. Awesome! The new default is what I expected now, hence my confusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. As long as the new overview will have the same options and ability to preview also icons and titles, I like the change. Darkening windows caused only confusion and made it harder to look at the windows.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Nate, i’m very interested in this part of your post:

    “…will eventually replace the existing Present Windows effect and probably the Desktop Grid effect as well, unifying them both into a full-screen overview of windows, Virtual Desktops and perhaps Activities too!

    Having “a full-screen overview of windows, Virtual Desktops and […] Activities” seems absolutely wonderful!

    Can you point somewhere where we can, more closely, follow the evolution of this???

    Having an All-in-one-place overview of Windows, Virtual Desktops and Activities is really really really exciting!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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