It's that time of the year again. Everyone is in a festive mood and excited about all the new things they're going to get. It's only natural, since it's the season of the last KDE Applications release for this year!
With more than 140 issues resolved and dozens of feature improvements, KDE Applications 18.12 are now on its way to your operating system of choice. We've highlighted some changes you can look forward to.
Practical File Management with Dolphin
File management encompasses a lot of activities. There's renaming, copying, and moving files around. Perhaps you want to quickly preview a file to make sure it's the right one. You're in luck, because the thumbnail preview experience has been greatly improved in the new version of Dolphin. LibreOffice documents and AppImage applications can now be previewed as thumbnails, and icon thumbnails look much cleaner. If folder thumbnails are enabled, video files larger than 5 MB will be visible in them.
Of course, there is more to Dolphin than just thumbnails. The "Control" menu makes it easier to show hidden places and create new files and folders. After unmounting a storage volume in the Places panel, it can now be remounted. Those who still own audio CDs and use Dolphin to open them will be glad to hear it can now change the CBR bitrate for MP3 files and fix timestamps for FLAC files.
Some security measures have been implemented in Dolphin to prevent users from accidentally losing their data. It no longer allows attempts to unmount the active home directory and the disk where the active OS is installed. When renaming files, Dolphin will warn you if there's an extra dot in front of the filename, which would make the file hidden. Pretty neat, right?
Okular: Annotate ALL the Things
Okular has steadily grown from a document viewer into an indispensable assistant in activities such as studying, doing research, or collaborating on text in read-only file formats like PDF and EPUB. Its annotation capabilities were already powerful, but the new version introduces a new tool called Typewriter. With this annotation tool, you'll be able to write text literally anywhere in your files. Whether it's commenting on an image or highlighting a spelling mistake, your hands are now untied, and you can freely express yourself in Okular.
Other improvements in this release include better options to expand and collapse entries in the Table of Contents sidebar. If a file contains links, hovering over them will always display the full URL in a tooltip, regardless of the currently selected Okular mode.
Konsole, Now with More Emotion
Spending hours or even days working in the terminal can get monotonous. Cheer up - the new version of Konsole has full support for emoji! Add a cheeky smiling cat to your commit messages, or insert a facepalm emoji into your shell scripts.
If you're into more serious things, Konsole now makes it easier to reset the font size back to the default. When a bell is triggered in an inactive tab, the tab icon will be highlighted to visually alert you of the activity. Last but not least, if your mouse has back and forward buttons, Konsole is now able to recognize them, and you can use them to switch between tabs.
Usability Improvements for Everyone
If you have been keeping up with KDE-related news, you're probably aware of our community-wide Usability Improvement goal. After all, it's hard to miss the weekly updates from our awesome developers who are dedicated to making the KDE software more accessible and friendlier to everyone.
The KDE Applications 18.12 release integrates all those fruits of labor, and the result is a much more pleasant user experience across the board. KMail now supports a unified inbox display, and emails should now be readable regardless of your color scheme. A small improvement with a big impact is the ability to repeat the last calculation in KCalc multiple times.
Kate comes with new defaults that are meant to help you work more productively right from the start. Specifically, line numbers and the Text Filter plugin will be enabled by default. You can now change the focus of the embedded terminal in Kate by pressing the F4 key, and it will automatically synchronize the location in the terminal with the location of the currently active document.
If you are using Gwenview to fix the wretched red-eye effect in your photos, it will now be even easier thanks to the improved Reduce Red Eye tool. When taking screenshots with Spectacle, their filenames will be sequentially numbered by default. You will also notice that saving options in Spectacle are now easier to access from the Save page.
Ark has received support for tar.zst archives, and it's now much smarter when it comes to file previews. Instead of previewing document files as archives, Ark will now launch the appropriate application for the selected file format.
Apart from improving the standard set of applications, we have also made some of our specialized tools more usable. Lokalize, the translation and localization tool, now has a better search functionality that can recognize plural forms of words. If you keep a lot of tabs open in Lokalize, you will be able to navigate between them much faster.
Cantor, the advanced mathematical tool, now offers better visualizations and highlighting of command entries. You can also open multiple files in one Cantor shell. For users who need to draw mathematical functions, we have made Kmplot more stable and improved the SVG export functionality.
This is a great opportunity for developers of all levels to participate in the project. The team has triaged hundreds of reports, closing more than a hundred of them in the past month. Kdenlive developers have also made a list of entry-level bugs you can get started with.
For the more seasoned developers, there are plenty of options - be it a shiny feature request or a challenge to polish some non-trivial edges. To hack Kdenlive, you need to know C++, Qt, QML or KDE Frameworks. Those with knowledge of C can join the fun by improving MLT, the multimedia framework Kdenlive runs on.
Even if you have no programming experience, you can still help by testing fixes and features, as well as by triaging more bug reports.
Necuno Solutions and KDE are collaborating to offer Plasma Mobile on the Necuno Mobile, a device Necuno describes as "a truly open source hardware platform".
With a focus on openness, security and privacy, the Necuno Mobile is built around an ARM® Cortex®-A9 NXP i.MX6 Quad and a Vivante GPU. According to Necuno, none of the closed firmware has access to the memory.
Necuno Solutions is working with open source mobile communities and intends to make their hardware a welcoming platform for Free and open source operating systems in the mobile ecosystem. Plasma Mobile and Necuno Solutions are a perfect match for a community collaboration because of their shared values. The aim is to grow the KDE and Necuno Solutions communities together and attract interested early adopters and developers so that everyone has a chance to join the effort.
Tanja Drca, Chief Communications Officer at Necuno Solutions says:
KDE has reached very far in the mobile ecosystem by leveraging the power of the community. We feel that KDE is in a good position to challenge the duopoly in the future. This will be a new innovative approach to combine truly open source hardware with a truly open source operating system"
Bhushan Shah, one of the main developers working on Plasma mobile says:
It is important that developers within the mobile ecosystem are able to work with open devices which are easy to modify and tweak, and not locked by vendors to a particular operating system. Necuno Solutions is working on one such device and will ultimately help improve Plasma Mobile due to its open nature."
The fund, set up in collaboration with KDE e.V., wants to encourage diversity in open source. It aims to help underrepresented groups participate in the global Nextcloud community and foster an inclusive and diverse space where the community can continue to collaborate and develop world-class software. Mentoring, travel support, and internships are provided as part of the program. The program is ran in collaboration with the KDE community under the umbrella of the KDE e.V.
Margit Stumpp, Member of the German Parliament (Bundestag) said:
Equal opportunities and diversity are very important issues for the future, especially in technical professions. I am pleased that Nextcloud Include is a new important initiative that is focusing on these issues".
Frank is of course very happy with the prize:
I'm extremely honored to be awarded this prize as a recognition of the incredible impact privacy issues have on our society and the importance of Nextcloud in providing a solution. By donating the prize money to a diversity goal, I hope it will help catalyze another transformation that society needs".
Lydia Pintscher, president of KDE e.V.'s Board was equally thrilled:
We'd like to congratulate Frank on winning this prize and his decision to put the money to a great cause in open source. For us, collaborating with Nextcloud in this way is a bit of a homecoming as it is one of the most successful projects to emerge from our community over the past decade".
It is worth remembering that Nextcloud started life as a KDE project.
Nextcloud, Frank and KDE would like to invite community members who want to get involved in Nextcloud but face significant social hurdles to get in touch with our Include team. You can find more information on Nextcloud Include page.
The Reinhard von Koenig award promotes excellence in progress and technology. Previous winners include notable staff members from Daimler AG and Atlatec GmbH for work on self-driving cars.
LaKademy, or Latin American Akademy, is the annual meeting of the Latin American KDE community - one of the biggest Free software communities in the world. The event takes place since 2012, and is open to all developers, artists, users, and everyone who wants to contribute in any way to the software created or maintained by the community.
As is tradition since 2012, the Latin American Akademy happened from 11th to 14th of October 2018 at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) in the city of Florianopolis, Brazil. Members of the local Free and open source software community - mostly Brazilians - gathered at the event. (On a side note, if you are reading this and you are from South America, please join us next year).
It was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to work on KDE projects, but also on other unrelated projects that each person contributes to. The participants strengthened their friendship bonds and shared experiences about creating, using, and maintaining software. Finally, on Sunday (October 14th) everyone celebrated the 22 years of KDE with a cake. Konqui was there, too!
But let us start from the beginning. LaKademy 2018 officially opened on October 11th. More than 20 participants, including Karina Mochetti and six students of Computer Science from the Federal University Fluminense (UFF, Niteroi) started resolving the issues in translation scripts used by the localization team.
They also worked on the KDE Edu software - the educational suite for everyone from age 5 to 95. It was the first time that we had this kind of help - from a formal partnership between a university and its students - and also the first LaKademy with so many attendees from all corners of the continent.
Artists, enthusiasts, teachers... everyone focused on working hard on the projects during the event. The 3D artists created 3D models, translators translated, and developers developed. Many bugs where squashed, too. We would especially like to thank Nicolas Alvarez for breathing in a new life into the official LaKademy website that will be live in its final form soon.
On Saturday, October 13th, the traditional promo meeting took place, where the future of the Latin American KDE community was discussed. We covered a wide range of topics: from communication tools, our presence at Brazilian events, and the promotional materials to the proposal of migrating the KDE Brasil site to Wordpress.
We also considered potential host cities for LaKademy 2019, and shared some thoughts on making it happen outside of Brazil as a way of reinforcing the "Latin-American-ness" of the event.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in this year's LaKademy, and helped make it such a welcoming and productive event. Let's do our best to make it even bigger and better next year!
List of LaKademy 2018 participants
UFF students who attended LaKademy with the mentoring of Karina Mochetti:
Carlos Henrique Domingos Correia Santos
Fernando Costa Rodrigues
Hugo Caetano Borges Carneiro
Luan Simões Cardoso
Lucas Henrique Tavares Monteiro
Maria Edoarda Vallim Fonseca
Other KDE Community members:
Caio Jordão Carvalho
Frederico Gonçalves Guimarães
Pedro Arthur Duarte
Summary of LaKademy 2018 activities
Fixed bugs on many different levels of different applications
After a break in 2017, the KDE community is participating in the Google Code-in contest as a mentoring organization. This means that pre-university students aged 13 to 17 from all over the world will be able to contribute to the Free Software movement by helping KDE develop software products that give users control, freedom, and privacy.
Google Code-in is a global online contest with the goal of helping teenagers get involved in the world of open source development. Mentors from the participating organizations lend a helping hand as participants complete various bite-sized tasks in coding, graphics design, documentation, and more.
At the end of the contest, each organization will select 6 finalists and 2 grand prize winners. Students can earn prizes (digital certificates, T-shirts, hoodies) and grand prize winners will receive a trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California for themselves and a parent or legal guardian for 4 nights in June 2019.
In 2016, the two lucky grand prize winners from the KDE community were Sergey Popov and Ilya Bizyaev. They seized the amazing opportunity to travel all the way from Russia to Google HQ in the US, where they met many students and professional software developers passionate about Free Software, and made new friends!
Both of them are still involved in KDE. As Ilya says, "contributing to KDE is an incredible opportunity to improve my programming, design and social skills while working on something that really matters".
This year, you could be the lucky one. To learn more about Google Code-in and register as a participant, visit the official contest website. We are waiting for your contributions! :)
We are excited to announce that the KDE e.V. received a donation of 300,000 USD from the Handshake Foundation. Quite appropriate for a birthday present, as the KDE project just turned 22 this last weekend!
Of the total donation amount, 100,000 USD will be specifically allocated to pursue the development of the Calligra office suite.
"Handshake is pleased to be able to support KDE's international community of dedicated volunteers and their continued commitment to a free desktop environment with the current release of KDE Plasma 5 and the Calligra office suite", says Rob Myers from the Handshake Foundation.
The fruits of this contribution will soon become visible and available to everyone. Meanwhile, don't hesitate to join the KDE Community and be part of our mission to help everyone protect their privacy and control their digital lives with Free Software.
Stay tuned for more updates, and tell us how you celebrated KDE's 22nd birthday!
KDE members in the impressive foyer at Escola del Treball
Last week developers from the KDE neon and Plasma teams visited Barcelona. We were there to meet with some KDE software projects we had heard about in the Catalan government and schools. Aleix Pol lives locally and works on Plasma and Discover. He invited Plasma release manager and KDE neon developer Jonathan Riddell, KDE neon continuous integration master Harald Sitter, and hardware enablement guru Rohan Garg to meet the teams evaluating our software and supporting our users.
We first met Pablo who runs the Linkat project for the Catalan government. Linkat is a Linux distribution they offer to schools, and it currently runs lightweight, simple desktop environments. As Plasma 5 now tends to use as little or less memory and resources than many lightweight Linux desktops, the Linkat team is interested in trying it. We met with the officials from the education department and discussed accessibility needs, looking at Mycroft for voice control and integrating with phones using KDE Connect.
The next day we visited the largest technical school in Catalunya, the Escola del Treball (school of the workers). Within their impressive Gaudí-inspired building, they run a few thousand computers on which they are trying to reduce the costs. They showed us the setup they had developed using thin clients with a simple Atom computer or Raspberry Pi. The thin clients use a remote desktop protocol to talk to virtual machines on a central server. The technically-minded teachers can customize what's running on the virtual machine with a range of distributions and operating systems available. Their server has hosted over 3000 virtual machine images just on the trial computers, all for the individual use cases of the teaching staff. Unlike with proprietary setups, this means they do not have to ask for a budget to install software.
They discussed some problems their virtual machine software was having with Plasma and tested some fixes made by Aleix. Rohan was also interested in finding the best machines they could use for their thin clients.
In the evening, we met with developer Angel Docampo and talked about the deployment he worked on for the Ajuntament (city council) of Barcelona. The Ajuntament is also interested in moving towards Free Software on their computers. This deployment is based on Kubuntu, and it is currently in trial by about 30 employees. Angel reported that they are happy with the setup; however, taking it further will likely depend on the politicians‘ will to drive the change forward.
As we were about to leave, we learned about a project called openUAB at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. They are making a KDE neon-based system for their own uses. We expect to find out more about this project after Aleix meets with them in the upcoming weeks.
This was an exciting trip that opened our eyes to the increasing number and variety of users and use cases of KDE software. The insights we collected will help us deliver better software, and strengthen the bonds between our community and the rest of the world.
Tuesday, 9 October 2018. Today KDE launches the first release of Plasma 5.14.
Plasma is KDE's lightweight and full featured Linux desktop. For the last three months we have been adding features and fixing bugs and now invite you to install Plasma 5.14.
A lot of work has gone into improving Discover, Plasma's software manager, and, among other things, we have added a Firmware Update feature and many subtle user interface improvements to give it a smoother feel. We have also rewritten many effects in our window manager KWin and improved it for slicker animations in your work day. Other improvements we have made include a new Display Configuration widget which is useful when giving presentations.
Browse the full Plasma 5.14 changelog to find out about more tweaks and bug fixes featured in this release: Full Plasma 5.14 changelog
New in Plasma 5.14
There's a new Display Configuration widget for screen management which is useful for presentations.
The Audio Volume widget now has a built in speaker test feature moved from Phonon settings.
The Network widget now works for SSH VPN tunnels again.
Switching primary monitor when plugging in or unplugging monitors is now smoother.
The lock screen now handles user-switching for better usability and security.
You can now import existing encrypted files from a Plasma Vault.
The Task Manager implements better compatibility with LibreOffice.
The System Monitor now has a 'Tools' menu full of launchers to handy utilities.
The Kickoff application menu now switches tabs instantly on hover.
Widget and panels get consistent icons and other user interface improvements.
Plasma now warns on logout when other users are logged in.
Discover, our software and add-on installer, has more features and improves its look and feel.
Discover gained fwupd support, allowing it to upgrade your computer's firmware.
It gained support for Snap channels.
Discover can now display and sort apps by release date.
You can now see an app's package dependencies.
When Discover is asked to install a standalone Flatpak file but the Flatpak backend is not installed, it now offers to first install the backend for you.
Discover now tells you when a package update will replace some packages with other ones.
We have added numerous minor user interface improvements: update button are disabled while checking for updates, there is visual consistency between settings and the update pages, updates are sorted by completion percentage, we have improved the layout of updates page and updates notifier plasmoid, etc..
We have improved reliability and stability through a bunch of bug fixes.
KWin and Wayland:
We fixed copy-paste between GTK and non-GTK apps on Wayland.
We fixed non-centered task switchers on Wayland.
We have improved pointer constraints.
There are two new interfaces, XdgShell and XdgOutput, for integrating more apps with the desktop.
We have considerably improved and polished KWin effects throughout, including completely rewriting the Dim Inactive effect, adding a new scale effect, rewriting the Glide effect, and more.
We fixed many bugs, including:
Blurred backgrounds behind desktop context menus are no longer visually corrupted.
It's no longer possible to accidentally drag-and-drop task manager buttons into app windows.
The easiest way to try out Plasma 5.14 is with a live image booted off a USB disk. Docker images also provide a quick and easy way to test Plasma.
KDE neon is a project to deliver KDE's wonderful suite of software quickly. We use modern DevOps techniques to automatically build, QA and deploy our packages. We work directly with the KDE community rather than staying far away in a separate project.
Our packages are built on the latest Ubuntu LTS edition and today we have moved to their new 18.04 release. This means our users can get newer drivers and third party packages. There is an upgrade process from the previous 16.04 LTS base which we have spent the last few months writing and running QA on to ensure it runs smoothly.
We have three editions for different use cases. A user edition for those wanting to use the latest released KDE software updated daily but only released when it passes QA tests. And two developer editions built from unstable and beta Git branches without QA checks for those wanting to test or develop our forthcoming software.
You can use our output via the .deb package archive, installable ISOs and Docker images. We also have work-in-progress Snap packages which we can put more development effort into now that we have rebased on 18.04.
Many people have been keen for the rebase onto 18.04, thank you for your patience. We implement many QA tests in neon and are keen that they should all pass. A number of bugs have been found in the initial upgrade process which we have fixed. These major upgrades can still break, especially if you have a lot of third party software, so do take backups before you start. Please let us know on the bug tracker or forum how you get on. Enjoy your updated neon!