Monday, 15 May 2017. Today KDE has made a testing release of our desktop Plasma 5.10 with new features across the suite to give users an experience which lives up to our tagline: simple by default, powerful when needed.
Panel Task Manager
Task Manager, the list of applications in the panel, has gained options for middle mouse click such as grouping and ungrouping applications.
Several other improvements here include:
Places jump list actions in File manager launchers (e.g. pinned Dolphin in Task Manager now lists user places)
The icon size in vertical Task Managers is now configurable to support more common vertical panel usage patterns
Improved app identification and pinning in Task Manager for apps that rely on StartupWMClass, perl-SDL-based apps and more
Folder View Is the New Default Desktop
After some years shunning icons on the desktop we have accepted the inevitable and changed to Folder View as the default desktop which brings some icons by default and allows users to put whatever files or folders they want easy access to. Many other improvements have been made to the Folder View include:
Spring Loading in Folder View making drag and drop of files powerful and quick
More space-saving/tighter icon grid in Folder View based on much user feedback
Improved mouse behavior / ergonomics in Folder View for icon dnd (less surprising drop/insert location), rectangle selection (easier, less fiddly) and hover (same)
Revamped rename user interface in Folder View (better keyboard and mouse behavior e.g. closing the editor by clicking outside, RTL fixed, etc.)
Massively improved performance in Folder View for initial listing and scrolling large folders, reduced memory usage
Many other bug fixes and UI improvements in Folder View, e.g. better back button history, Undo shortcut support, clickable location in the headings, etc.
Unified drop menu in Folder View, showing both file (Copy/Move/Link) and widget (creating a Picture widget from an image drop, etc.) drop actions
It is now possible to resize widgets in the desktop by dragging on their edges and moving them with Alt+left-click, just like regular windows
New Features Everywhere
There are so many other improvements throughout the desktop, here's a sample:
Media controls on lock screen
Pause music on suspend
Software Centre Plasma Search (KRunner) suggests to install non-installed apps
File copying notifications have a context menu on previews giving access to actions such as open containing folder, copy, open with etc
'desktop edit mode', when opening toolbox reveals applet handles
Performance optimizations in Pager and Task Manager
'Often used' docs and apps in app launchers in addition to 'Recently used'
Panel icons (buttons for popup applets, launcher applets) now follow the Icons -> Advanced -> Panel size setting in System Settings again, so they won't take up too much space, particularly useful for wide vertical panels
Revamped password dialogs for network authentication
The security of the lock screen architecture got reworked and simplified to ensure that your system is secured when the screen is locked. On Linux systems the lock screen is put into a sandbox through the seccomp technology.
Plasma's window manager support for hung processes got improved. When a window is not responding any more it gets darkened to indicate that one cannot interact with it any more.
Support for locking and unlocking the shell from the startup script, useful especially for distributions and enterprise setups
Audio Volume applet has a handy menu on each device which you can use to set is as default or switch output to headphones.
Improved touch screen support
Touch Screen Support has improved in several ways:
Virtual Keyboard in lock screen
Virtual Keyboard in the login screen
Touch screen edge swipe gestures
Left screen edge defaults to window switching
Show auto-hiding panels through edge swipe gesture
Working for the Future with Wayland
We have put a lot of work into porting to new graphics layer Wayland, the switch is coming but we won't recommend it until it is completely transparent to the user. There will be improved features too such as KWin now supports scaling displays by different levels if you have a HiDPI monitor and a normal DPI screen.
Keyboard layout support in Wayland now has all the features of X11:
Layout switcher in the system tray
Per layout global shortcut
Switch layout based on a policy, either global, virtual desktop, application or per window
IPC interface added, so that other applications can change layout.
Plymouth Boot Splash Selection
A new System Settings module lets you download and select boot time splashes.
Experimentla support for forthcoming new bundle package formats has been implemented. Discover software centre has gained provisional backends for Flatpak and Snappy. New plugin xdg-desktop-portal-kde has added KDE integration into Flatpak packaged applications.
Support for GNOME’s Open Desktop Ratings, replacing old Ubuntu popularity contest with tons of already existing reviews and comments.
The KDE e.V. community report for 2016 is now available. After the introductory statement from the Board, you can read a featured article about the 20th anniversary of KDE, and an overview of all developer sprints and conferences supported by KDE e.V. The report includes statements from our Working Groups, development highlights for 2016, and some information about the current structure of KDE e.V.
Featured Article – 20 years of KDE
In 2016, all of us celebrated 20 years of the KDE Community with a number of parties around the world. We participated in the awesome QtCon in Berlin, announced the book 20 Years of KDE: Past, Present and Future and the KDE timeline. In this featured article, Lydia Pintscher brings back the early KDE impetus for digital freedom that still remains alive in every contributor's soul.
Supported Activities and Specific Reports
The report provides summaries of eight KDE e.V. supported developer sprints and six trade shows and community events where the KDE Community had its presence. Specific reports from the KDE e.V. Working Groups and KDE España are also presented. Finally, the report contains development highlights for 2016, and a short overview of mentoring programs in which KDE has been involved.
The report concludes with a list of contributors who joined KDE e.V. during 2016, and presents the current members of the KDE e.V. Board of Directors. We invite you to read the entire report!
The last two weeks have been busy for the KDE Community. On April 20 we announced the release of KDE Applications 17.04, and five days later we released a new set of bugfixes and translations for Plasma, officially versioned Plasma 5.9.5.
Both new versions of our products have introduced several features and stability improvements to the overall KDE user experience. Here are some of the highlights from the latest KDE Applications and Plasma releases. As always, you can find a lot more information in their respective changelogs.
What's New in File Management?
If Dolphin is your file manager of choice, you will be happy to hear that it now allows you to interact with the metadata widgets in the tooltips. The Places panel now has better context menus, and opening a new instance of Dolphin using the "New Window" option will launch it in the same target folder as your current Dolphin window.
A significant change that affects not only Dolphin, but also Kate and KWrite, is that launching these applications as root on Linux systems has been disabled by default. The reason for this is that it is a safety risk to run GUI apps with root privileges in the X Window System (X11).
When it comes to viewing your files, Okular will be even better at it thanks to numerous improvements. You can now create bookmarks from the Table of Contents, resize annotations, and disable automatic search while typing.
Finally, Ark - the application that lets you manage compressed files and folders - now has a handy plugin configuration dialog and a Search function to help you look inside your archives.
What About Multimedia Applications?
The biggest improvements in the multimedia department will be visible in Kdenlive, KDE's video editor. The profile selection dialog has been fully redesigned, and it is now much easier to tweak the framerate, screen size, and other details of your project. Perhaps the coolest new feature in Kdenlive is the ability to play your video directly from the notification you receive when rendering is completed.
Other multimedia applications received some minor improvements, for example Gwenview now lets you hide the status bar in the application window.
Don't Forget About KDE Edu!
Our educational applications have seen some interesting changes. KAlgebra - the powerful graphing calculator and math-learning tool - has a new 3D back-end on the desktop, and its mobile version has been ported to Kirigami 2.0.
If you love music more than math, the new version of Minuet will delight you. The music education tool now comes with more scale exercises and ear-training tasks, plus an entire Test Mode for practicing and monitoring your progress.
KStars, our desktop planetarium, will now work much better on OS X, and KGeography now includes a map of Ghana.
New Members of the KDE Applications Family
We are happy to announce that K3b, the disk burning software, is now part of KDE Applications. In other great news, several applications have been ported from their old kdelibs4 base to KDE Frameworks 5. The list includes KCachegrind, Kajongg, kde-dev-utils and kdesdk-kioslaves.
No longer included in KDE Applications is the unmaintained development tool Kommander.
What About the New Plasma?
The most obvious changes introduced in Plasma 5.9.5 are related to window decorations and other visual tweaks. Themes in the System Settings module are now sorted, Plastik window decoration supports the global menu, and Aurorae window decorations support the global menu button. KWin will respect theme colors in buttons, and you will be able to edit the default color scheme of your Plasma Desktop.
Moreover, your Plasma session will correctly handle the event of disconnecting a primary screen and replacing it with a new one. The Media Controller Plasmoid has been fixed, and can now properly seek tracks longer than 30 minutes.
Where Can You Get All These New Things?
Both KDE Applications 17.04 and Plasma 5.9.5 are available in KDE neon. Linux distributions are expected to provide packages or update their existing ones in the coming weeks. Users of Arch Linux, Manjaro Linux, and Gentoo should already see our latest software in their repositories.
If you can't wait for your distribution's packages, you can always download our source code and compile it yourself. We provide build instructions for both KDE Applications and Plasma.
A lot more is in the works, and we will reveal some of the novelties as the release date approaches. Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to keep up with all the news. If you're planning to celebrate the release of Plasma 5.10 by hosting a release party, start preparing now! Our Community Wiki has some tips on how to organize a local KDE event.
In the meantime, let us know about your experience with KDE Applications 17.04 and Plasma 5.9.5 in the comments!
Kirigami UI lets you easily design and create convergent apps that work on desktop and mobile environments. Platforms supported by Kirigami UI include Windows, Android, and Linux. Kirigami is especially indicated for KDE's Plasma Desktop and the upcoming Plasma Mobile platform, KDE's graphical environment for mobile devices. Apps developed with Kirigami will probably also work on MacOS X and iOS with minimal tweaking, although these platforms are not officially supported yet.
Q:With some free software phone projects ending, what does Plasma Mobile's future look like?
A: The future is rosy. While it is true that Plasma Mobile used to be built on the Ubuntu Phone codebase, that was superseded some time ago. The recent events at Ubuntu and other mobile communities have not modified the pace of the development (which is pretty fast) or the end goal, which is to build frameworks that will allow convergence for all kinds of front-ends and apps on all kinds of devices.
That framework for apps already exists. It is called Kirigami. Usually an operating system gains traction because of its apps. Think back when Android was the underdog to iOS, what did Google do? Lower the bar and put in place incentives for developers to create apps for Android.
The plan is that Kirigami will make the underlying platform irrelevant. If developers can port their apps with minimal hassle, and users can run their apps the same on all platforms, including the desktop, the possibility of having a shot at grabbing a slice of the mobile market becomes much more realistic. Even for new players, the main hurdle at the point of entry, i.e. having a well-stocked app store, disappears.
In the last couple of weeks Plasma Mobile developers have been working with some other mobile communities and has now announced the Halium project. This project aims to develop a common free, open and community-backed base-layer for all GNU/Linux-based mobile operating systems, including Ubuntu Phone which lives on through the UBports project. This interface will allow all operating systems to interact with the Android subsystems that control hardware and other low level components.
As you can see, the Plasma Mobile developers are working on bringing a common framework both to the UI side front and to the base layer. Interestingly, they are doing this, not only for the benefit of Plasma Mobile, but, in true Free Software fashion, for every community with a mobile project. This was already the goal before what happened at Ubuntu, by the way.
So, as I said at the beginning, the future for Plasma Mobile is bright.
Akademy, KDE's annual conference, requires a place and team for the year 2018. That's why we are looking for a vibrant, enthusiastic spot in Europe that can host us!
A Bit About Akademy
Akademy is KDE's annual get-together where our creativity, productivity and love are at their peak. Developers, users, translators, students, artists, writers - pretty much anyone who has been involved with KDE will join Akademy to participate and learn. Contents will range from keynote speeches and a two-day dual track session of talks by the FOSS community, to workshops and Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions where we plot the future of the project. Friday is scheduled for the KDE e.V. General Assembly and a pre-Akademy party/welcoming event. Saturday and Sunday covers the keynotes, talks and lightning talks. The remaining four days are used for BoFs, intensive coding sessions and workshops for smaller groups of 10 to 30 people out of which one day is reserved for a Day Trip of the attendees around the local touristic sights. Hosting Akademy is a great way to contribute to a movement of global collaboration. You get a chance to host one of the largest FOSS community in the world with contributors from over the world and be a witness to a wonderful inter-cultural fusion of attendees in your home town. You'll also get great exposure to Free Software. It is a great opportunity for the local university students, professors, technology enthusiasts and professionals to try their hand at something new.
What You Need to Do
Akademy requires a location in Europe, with a nice conference venue, that is easy to reach, preferably close to an international airport. Organizing Akademy is a demanding and a resource intensive task but you’ll be guided along the entire process by people who’ve been doing this for years. Nevertheless, the local team should be prepared to spare a considerable amount of time for this. For detailed information, please see the Call for Hosts. Questions and applications should be addressed to the Board of KDE e.V. or the Akademy Team. Please indicate your interest in hosting Akademy to the Board of KDE e.V. by June 1st. Full applications will be accepted until 15th June. We look forward to your enthusiasm in being the next host for Akademy 2018!
In February, KDE's Plasma team came together in for their yearly in-person meeting. The meeting was kindly hosted by von Affenfels GmbH, a webdesign agency in Stuttgart, Germany. The team discussed a wide variety of topics, such as design, features new and old, bugs and sore points in the current implementation, app distribution, also project management, internal and outward-facing communication and Wayland.
KDE is experimenting with new ways to deploy applications. Under consideration are technologies such as Flatpak, Snap and AppImage, which all have their distinct advantages. Support for bundled applications is being built into Discover, Plasma's software management center, and the KDE Store. An idea is to allow software developers more control over their applications' lifecycle, and to get updates shipped much quicker into the hands of users. Similar as with packages automatically created from our Git code repositories. This can dramatically cut down on the complexity of the deployment chain.
Browser integration in Plasma will be improved by integrating notifications and download progress and multimedia natively into Plasma by providing a browser extension that relays this information to the Plasma shell.
The Plasma team also discussed using touchpad gestures to control the window manager, so users can use specific multitouch gestures to trigger effects like the "desktop grid", "present windows" or swiping between virtual desktops.
Plasma Mobile Ported to Nexus 5X
Plasma Mobile, KDE's ongoing product to provide a Plasma implementation suitable for mobile phones was made to run on the Nexus 5X. The previous reference device, the Nexus 5 (sans "X") was getting a bit dated, and since it's not easily available on the market anymore, a new reference device that people can get their hands on was needed. Bhushan Shah solved the last problems keeping us from using this newer and faster device as a development platform. Images will be appearing shortly, and the team is looking forward to receiving (and addressing) feedback about Plasma on the 5X.
While not strictly Plasma, the team made a final push to getting KDE's websites at www.kde.org updated. A tireless effort by Ken Vermette with the help of Harald Sitter and a few more helping hands lead to the shiny new design being revealed during the course of the sprint.
On the less technical side, a sprint such as this is always a good opportunity to talk about how we work together, and how we present ourselves to the outside world. While we have made great strides to improve our software by applying more thorough review processes, continuous testing and integration and paying more attention to the wishes and problems of our users, we want to put more focus on stability. One way to achieve this is to move bigger feature merges more towards the beginning of a development cycle, thereby increasing the amount of time we have for testing and ironing out problems.
Sprints like this are only possible with the support of our community. We would like to thank the KDE e.V. for making this sprint (as many others before) possible. A special note of appreciation goes out to all those who donated to KDE e.V., without your support, we cannot get together in person to discuss and work. Personal interaction, while not necessary on a daily basis helps us to improve our collaboration, communication, team-work, and not at least the software we create for our users.
Linux Action Show
The Linux Action Show did an interview with the team at the sprint, watch this episode from 5 minutes in to meet the crew.
Akademy is the KDE Community conference. If you are working on topics relevant to KDE or Qt, this is your chance to present your work and ideas at the Conference from 22nd-27th July in Almería, Spain. The days for talks are Saturday and Sunday, 22nd and 23rd July. The rest of the week will be BoFs, unconference sessions and workshops.
The conference is expected to draw hundreds of attendees from the global KDE Community to discuss and plan the future of the Community and its technology. Many participants from the broad free and open source software community, local organizations and software companies will also attend.