A ton of features, bugfixes, and and user interfaces have landed for Plasma 18, and a beta release is now available for adventurous types to test out ahead of the release next month.
I think this is the Plasma release that a lot of people have been waiting for. It’s faster, more stable, more beautiful, and more feature-filled than any previous release, and it comes with a Long Term Support guarantee. Nothing is perfect, and we can always do better (and always strive to), but I think Plasma 5.18 is going to hit a sweet spot for a lot of people. Look for it in the next LTS releases of Kubuntu and openSUSE Leap, as well as all the rolling release distros of course.
- Screen auto-rotation now works on Wayland for computers with accelerometers (Roman Gilg, Plasma 5.18.0):
- The visual settings for GTK apps are no longer required to be configured manually and separately; instead, they are automatically synced from your settings for KDE apps – except for the theme itself, which can still be set separately because there isn’t a 1:1 mapping between KDE and GTK themes (Mikhail Zolotukhin, Plasma 5.18.0)
- The popular Thumbnail Grid Task Switcher is now shipped as a part of the kdeplasma-addons package (Chris Holland, Plasma 5.18.0)
- The System Settings Background Services page has been rewritten to for better looks and usability (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.19.0):
Bugfixes & Performance Improvements
- JPEG thumbnails are now subtly sharper and better-looking (William Tradewell, Dolphin 20.04.0)
- System Settings no longer crashes when you click on the “Global Themes” item on the main page (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.18.0)
- KInfoCenter no longer crashes when you navigate between the Energy Info page and other pages (Harald Sitter, Plasma 5.18.0)
- The calculator applet no longer displays bizarre results for certain multiplication operations (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.18.0)
- Checkboxes drawn on top of images and selectable list items are now always visible (Noah Davis, Plasma 5.18.0):
- The feature that allows you to optionally set an image as the wallpaper when dragging it to the desktop now works with remote images in web browsers too (Tranter Madi, Plasma 5.18.0)
- Discover should now be more reliable at locating apps no matter what their AppStream ID is; for example Blender will be accessible from both blender.desktop and also org.kde.blender (Aleix Pol Gonzales, Plasma 5.18.0)
- Fixed a few visual glitches in the animations for the Widget Explorer (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.0)
- It’s once again possible to set your default email client to be a terminal program and have everything work properly when you click on mailto: links (Méven Car, Frameworks 5.67)
User Interface Improvements
- The System Tray’s settings window has received a major visual overhaul that makes it much more comprehensible and useful (Konrad Materka, Plasma 5.18.0):
- When you click on a notification, it now brings that app forward if the app doesn’t define a custom click behavior (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.18.0)
- Throughout Plasma and System Settings, the “Get new [thing]” dialog has a fancy new look and is much more usable (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Plasma 5.18.0):
- There are now keyboard shortcuts set by default for switching from one virtual desktop to another: Ctrl+Meta+Arrow keys (Björn Feber, Plasma 5.18.0)
- Scrollbars in the Breeze style for desktop apps are now wider and separated from the content view by a subtle separator line. You can see it in the other screenshots throughout this blog post! Basically after trying the fake overlay scrollbar style for a few years, we decided that it just didn’t work so we went back to the older style. Note that on mobile we now use real overlay style scrollbars with no content layout hacks, but instead of becoming invisible, the scrollbar becomes tiny and hugs the edge so you can still see your place in the scrollable view. (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.18.0)
- It’s now much simpler and more obvious how to create a WiFi hotspot (Jan Grulich, Plasma 5.18.0)
- Discover’s reviews sheet now has the proper width and is wide enough to display the reviews comfortably (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.18.0):
- A notification is now shown when Bluetooth device pairing is successful (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.18.0):
- Bluetooth devices that communicate their battery level now show that level in the Bluetooth applet’s popup as well as in the Battery and Brightness applet popup (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.18.0)
- The Plasma wallpaper slideshow feature now includes the default wallpaper path automatically so you don’t need to go hunting around and add it yourself (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.18.0)
How You Can Help
Please test the Plasma 5.18 beta release! You can find out how here. If you find bugs, file them–especially if they are regressions from Plasma 5.17. We want to get as much testing, bug filing, and bugfixing as possible during the one-month beta period so that the official release is as smooth as possible.
More generally, have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved and find out more ways to help 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!