From the 22nd to 26th of March, members of the KDE Privacy team met up in Leipzig, Germany, for our Spring 2019 sprint.
During the sprint, we floated a lot of different ideas that sparked plenty of discussions. The notion of privacy encompasses a wide range of topics, technologies and methods, so it is often difficult to decide what to focus on. However, all the aspects we worked on are important. We ended up tackling a variety of issues, and we are confident that our contributions will improve data protection for all users of KDE software.
Both Sandro Knauß and Volker Krause regularly work on KDE's Kontact suite (email, calendar, contacts, etc.), but this time they took on network-related issues. One of the problems is that there are still too many http links (instead of secure https links) within our codebase. This is a threat to users' communication, as http connections - and hence all the messages that travel over them - are unencrypted.
To make it easier for all KDE developers, Sandro and Volker wrote an ECM-injected global unit test. The test gets added to every application and prints out warnings about http links used in your code. Another script tries to update all the links in your codebase to use https, but checks beforehand if the https links would work. For example, sourceforge.org subdomains don't provide a certificate, so the script would ignore those.
Things are further complicated by http links that are used as identifiers in XML documents, and those links cannot be changed. All of the above exceptions and niche cases are the reason a simple search-and-replace would not work.
When the script ran, many of the links it found were updates of user-facing links that a normal capable browser would "fix" on the fly. However, it also found privacy leaks, as some links were routed through URL shorteners and pastebin services, as well as to default download locations.
Another thing we identified is that, unfortunately, the KDE mirror network is still using http and the underlying software is not ready to work with https. This means there is still some work we need to carry out to make mirrorbrain capable of using https. The website needs a valid certificate, too.
Meanwhile, Ivan Čukić and David Edmundson worked on improving Plasma Vault, KDE's solution for encrypting folders. The aim was to fix the issues that arise when other KDE software components interact with vaults. They made several major improvements:
vaults can now be opened and closed directly from Dolphin;
offline vaults force the network to be disconnected as soon as the password entry dialogue is shown;
and thumbnails are not generated for files in FUSE-encrypted directories unless the thumbnail cache is located in the same encrypted mount.
David and Ivan also spent some time on KWallet, KDE's password manager. In a breakout session, David investigated how to handle KWallet sandboxing, and Ivan explored the possibility of doing elliptic-curve encrypted inter-process communication, which could be useful for handling passwords with KWallet.
Florian Müller looked into using the Tor Browser as the default browser in Plasma. He found that it is mostly blocked, as Tor Browser is started with --no-remote, which makes it impossible to trigger new tabs from the outside. To solve the problem, Florian filed a patch against torbrowser-launcher.
The integration of Tor goes way beyond of just using the browser, though. In fact, the team wants all applications to be able to use Tor. To see if this was possible, we picked some applications and worked on configuring their proxy settings. During the testing, we used a .onion address to make sure that data was correctly sent via the Tor network.
On Monday morning, Jos van den Oever presented a proof-of-concept privacy proxy. The proxy is run by the user, and it intercepts all web traffic, storing it in a local archive. This proxy makes it possible to revisit parts of the Web even without an Internet connection. Additionally, the proxy can block unwanted content by defining filters.
The presentation was followed by a discussion on how to use such a proxy in KDE software in a user-friendly manner. Jos himself has been using his own proxy privately for a few years, but the code needs to be cleaned up and updated to the current version of Rust libraries before it can be released.
Then again, working for the future is what the Privacy team does most of the time. Gradually, most or all these features (and quite a few more) will make their way into Plasma Desktop and Plasma Mobile, making your desktop and mobile devices a safe environment against data leaks and snooping without sacrificing functionality.
In this release, many aspects of Plasma have been polished and
rewritten to provide high consistency and bring new features. There is a completely rewritten notification system supporting Do Not Disturb mode, more intelligent history with grouping, critical notifications in fullscreen apps, improved notifications for file transfer jobs, a much more usable System Settings page to configure everything, and many other things. The System and
Widget Settings have been refined and worked on by porting code to
newer Kirigami and Qt technologies and polishing the user interface.
And of course the VDG and Plasma team effort towards Usability & Productivity
goal continues, getting feedback on all the papercuts in our software that make your life less
smooth and fixing them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your
For the first time, the default wallpaper of Plasma 5.16 will
be decided by a contest where everyone can participate and submit art. The
winner will receive a Slimbook One v2 computer, an eco-friendly, compact
machine, measuring only 12.4 x 12.8 x 3.7 cm. It comes with an i5 processor, 8
GB of RAM, and is capable of outputting video in glorious 4K. Naturally, your
One will come decked out with the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.16 desktop, your
spectacular wallpaper, and a bunch of other great software made by KDE. You can find
more information and submitted work on the competition wiki
page, and you can submit your own wallpaper in the
Completely rewritten notification system supporting Do Not Disturb mode, more intelligent history with grouping, critical notifications in fullscreen apps, improved notifications for file transfer jobs, a much more usable System Settings page to configure everything, and more!
Plasma themes are now correctly applied to panels when selecting a new theme.
More options for Plasma themes: offset of analog clock hands and toggling blur behind.
All widget configuration settings have been modernized and now feature an improved UI. The Color Picker widget also improved, now allowing dragging colors from the plasmoid to text editors, palette of photo editors, etc.
The look and feel of lock, login and logout screen have been improved with new icons, labels, hover behavior, login button layout and more.
When an app is recording audio, a microphone icon will now appear in the System Tray which allows for changing and muting the volume using mouse middle click and wheel. The Show Desktop icon is now also present in the panel by default.
The Wallpaper Slideshow settings window now displays the images in the selected folders, and allows selecting and deselecting them.
The Task Manager features better organized context menus and can now be configured to move a window from a different virtual desktop to the current one on middle click.
The default Breeze window and menu shadow color are back to being pure black, which improves visibility of many things especially when using a dark color scheme.
The "Show Alternatives..." button is now visible in panel edit mode, use it to quickly change widgets to similar alternatives.
Plasma Vaults can now be locked and unlocked directly from Dolphin.
There has been a general polish in all pages; the entire Appearance section has been refined, the Look and Feel page has moved to the top level, and improved icons have been added in many pages.
The Color Scheme and Window Decorations pages have been redesigned with a more consistent grid view. The Color Scheme page now supports filtering by light and dark themes, drag and drop to install themes, undo deletion and double click to apply.
The theme preview of the Login Screen page has been overhauled.
The Desktop Session page now features a "Reboot to UEFI Setup" option.
There is now full support for configuring touchpads using the Libinput driver on X11.
Initial support for using Wayland with proprietary Nvidia drivers has been added. When using Qt 5.13 with this driver, graphics are also no longer distorted after waking the computer from sleep.
Wayland now features drag and drop between XWayland and Wayland native windows.
Also on Wayland, the System Settings Libinput touchpad page now allows you to configure the click method, switching between "areas" or "clickfinger".
KWin's blur effect now looks more natural and correct to the human eye by not unnecessary darkening the area between blurred colors.
Two new default shortcuts have been added: Meta+L can now be used by default to lock the screen and Meta+D can be used to show and hide the desktop.
GTK windows now apply correct active and inactive colour scheme.
Plasma Network Manager
The Networks widget is now faster to refresh Wi-Fi networks and more reliable at doing so. It also has a button to display a search field to help you find a particular network from among the available choices. Right-clicking on any network will expose a "Configure…" action.
WireGuard is now compatible with NetworkManager 1.16.
One Time Password (OTP) support in Openconnect VPN plugin has been added.
In Discover's Update page, apps and packages now have distinct "downloading" and "installing" sections. When an item has finished installing, it disappears from the view.
Tasks completion indicator now looks better by using a real progress bar. Discover now also displays a busy indicator when checking for updates.
Improved support and reliability for AppImages and other apps that come from store.kde.org.
Discover now allows you to force quit when installation or update operations are proceeding.
The sources menu now shows the version number for each different source for that app.
The GNOME and KDE communities are looking for locations for the Linux App Summit (LAS) 2019, an event that will be held sometime between September and December 2019.
The Linux App Summit is an evolution of the Libre Application Summit and has a specific focus on the creation of applications that target Linux devices. By co-hosting the conference, KDE and GNOME want to create a space for a more widespread collaboration and work towards a common goal: make the Linux application ecosystem flourish.
If you are interested in hosting LAS 2019 in your town, send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15th with your proposed location. This will allow the organizing committee to establish contact with you and give you assistance as you put together a bid later on.
For more information on relevant deadlines, please check out the LAS website.
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.
KDE e.V. is organizing Akademy 2019 with unixMiB — the Linux User Group of the University of Milano-Bicocca. unixMiB aims to spread Open Source philosophy among students.
Akademy 2019 Program
Akademy 2019 will start with 2 days of talks on Saturday and Sunday (7th and 8th of September), followed by 5 days of workshops, Birds of a Feather (BoF), training and coding sessions.
Call for Papers
The goal of the conference section of Akademy is to learn and teach new skills, and share our passion around what we're doing together at KDE.
For the sharing of ideas, experiences and state of things, we will have short Fast Track sessions in a single-track section of Akademy. Teaching and sharing technical details is done through longer sessions in the multi-track section of Akademy.
If you have an idea or a story that you would like to present, please tell us about it. If you know of someone else who should present, please encourage them to get in touch. For more details, see the proposal guidelines and the Call for Papers.
The submission deadline is 31st May, 23:59:59 CEST.
With a population of over 1.5 million inhabitants, Milan has a rich history that stretches back to 600 BC. The city boasts interesting museums, fascinating archaeological sites and breathtaking architecture and monuments. It is also renowned for its excellent food and wine.
Milan is considered a global city, with strengths in the field of the arts, commerce, design, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, services, research, and tourism. It is the third-largest economy among European cities after Paris and London, but the fastest in growth among the three. It is also the wealthiest among European non-capital cities.
Apart from being recognized as the world's fashion and design capital, Milan has a strong IT-based sector and is home to powerhouses such as Disney and SUSE. The adjacent towns are home to IBM Italia, Samsung and the CILEA supercomputing center, one of the most advanced HPC centers in Europe.
About the University of Milano-Bicocca
Akademy will be held in the halls of the University of Milano-Bicocca. Milano-Bicocca is a public university that provides undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate education in a wide range of disciplinary fields including Economics, Informatics, Statistics, Law, Education, Sociology, Medicine and Surgery, Maths, Natural Sciences, Physics and Astrophysics, Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Biotechnology, and Psychology.
The university is located to the north and east of the center of Milan and can easily be reached by bus and metro/underground.
For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.
KDE's file manager, Dolphin, can now show previews of more types of files, including Microsoft Office files, Blender 3D scenes, and EPUB eBooks. Continuing in the same department, previews of text files containing code or markup will now show syntax highlighting. All of the above will help users identify the contents of a file even before opening it. Other usability improvements include the option to choose which split to close when clicking the Close Split button, smarter tab placement, and a more practical way of tagging files.
Okular, KDE's document viewer, now lets users verify PDFs that have been digitally signed. Digital signatures are used in official documents to confirm that the document comes from the right source, and that it has not been tampered with. Okular also lets you edit LaTeX documents directly in the viewer and has improved touchscreen compatibility, making it much easier to use it in presentation mode.
Kontact has also improved, with KMail receiving most of the changes. Starting with this release, KMail can correct your grammar in the texts of your messages. A new thing you will find in this version of Kontact is KItinerary, a travel assistant developed by Volker Krausse that advises you on how to best get to your destination using meta-data from your e-mails.
Many other apps have been improved: Konsole has made using tabs easier, Spectacle gives you more options when taking and saving screenshots, and Kdenlive has overhauled the timeline, making editing video easier and more fun, just to mention a few changes.
The event is held in Madrid, Spain, and the organisers have kindly given us a space on the exhibition floor. We will be showcasing the best of what KDE has to offer in the business world. This will include devices that will show off the versatility and potential of Plasma and Plasma Mobile on everything - from mobiles, embedded devices, SBCs and low-powered devices (like the Pinebook), to its capability for adapting to vehicle infotainment systems and high-end ultrabooks, like the KDE Slimbook.
We will also be running videos and slide shows demonstrating the flexibility of Plasma, Plasma Mobile and all our applications on all platforms, and informing attendees how KDE Frameworks, such as Kirigami, can be useful for fast and flexible multiplatform development.
This is an event aimed mainly at businesses that want to work with other businesses, so if you or your company would like to get in touch with other IT companies, especially Spanish ones (which is what we want to do), this may be a good chance to broaden your market.
The KDE Community is happy to announce that we have been selected to participate in Google Summer of Code. This will be our our 14th year of mentoring students.
Attention students: If you are a student who would like to work with KDE this summer you can apply to SoC, find more info on the KDE GSoC wiki page. Please note that your project proposal will need to link to some commits to the KDE codebase, so get started now fixing some bugs! If you are wondering what you can work on, also check out our ideas page.
KDE has been looking for a better way of chatting and live-sharing information for several years now. IRC has been a good solution for a long time, but our channels are currently on servers KDE cannot control. It also lacks features users have come to expect from more modern IM services. Other alternatives, such as Telegram, Slack and Discord, although feature-rich, are centralized and built around closed-source technologies and offer even less control than IRC. This flies in the face of KDE's principles that require we use and support technologies based on Free software.
However, our search for a better solution has finally come to an end: as of today we are officially using Matrix for collaboration within KDE! Matrix is an open protocol and network for decentralised communication, backed by an open standard and open source reference implementations for servers, clients, client SDKs, bridges, bots and more. It provides all the features you’d expect from a modern chat system: infinite scrollback, file transfer, typing notifications, read receipts, presence, search, push notifications, stickers, VoIP calling and conferencing, etc. It even provides end-to-end encryption (based on Signal’s double ratchet algorithm) for when you want some privacy.
All the existing rooms on Matrix (and their counterparts on IRC, Telegram and elsewhere) continue to exist. The new service provides a dedicated server for KDE users to access them using names like #kde:kde.org.
This February release of KDE Plasma comes with a wide range of new features and improvements. The main focus of developers has been stamping out all minor problems and papercuts of the desktop, aiming to make Plasma smoother and easier to use.
Plasma's configuration interfaces have been redesigned, expanded and clarified to cover more user cases and make it simpler to adapt Plasma to everybody's needs. Plasma has also improved the integration of non-native applications, so Firefox, for example, can now optionally use native KDE open/save dialogs. Likewise, GTK and GNOME apps now respect the global scale factor used by high-DPI screens.
Developers have also been hard at work on Discover, Plasma's built-in software manager. Options for upgrading your distribution are now included in Discover's Update Notifier widget, which will also display a "Restart" button if a restart is recommended when updating is done. Talking of updates, it is now possible to uncheck and re-check all available updates to make it easier to pick and choose the ones you want to apply. Another improvement is that repository management in Discover is now more practical and usable, especially for Ubuntu-based distros.
We have also solved problems with text readability and icon clarity. KDE designers have improved a variety of Breeze device and preference icons, including the multimedia icons and all icons that depict a stylized version of a Plasma wallpaper. The Places, Vault and Python bytecode files all have redesigned icons to make them easier to identify.
There are literally hundreds more improvements and tweaks included in this release, all implemented to make your life as a Plasma user much more enjoyable. Read the official announcement and check out the Plasma 5.15 changelog for more details on this new version of the Plasma desktop.
Despite the rain and the cold, there is always a place that is warm and welcoming in Brussels in February - the KDE booth at FOSDEM 2019.
This year we are jam-packing it with interesting stuff. The first thing you'll see as you arrive is Krita's demo. Wolthera van Hövell, a talented artist that regularly contributes to Krita, will be painting live at the booth, demonstrating all the new features on a large screen for everybody to enjoy. Then on Sunday, Camille Moulin will be demonstrating how to edit video using Kdenlive.
We will also have a wide variety of hardware devices you will be able to play with. We will be showing off how Plasma works on everything: from high-end laptops like the KDE Slimbook, to underpowered and very affordable notebooks, such as the Pinebook. A variety of SBCs (single-board computers) will also be on show, ranging from Raspberry Pis to Pine64s. Of course, we will show the progress we are making on Plasma Mobile, so the KDE booth will be well-equipped with phones you can test on-site, and exotic new hardware, like a RISC-V board.
Besides demos and devices, the booth staff will be made up by some of KDE's most notorious members. Aleix Pol of KAlgebra and Discover fame; Jonathan Riddell, creator of the KDE neon system; Bhushan Shah, the main developer of Plasma Mobile; Adriaan de Groot, the main developer of the Calamares operating system installer; and Boudewijn Rempt from Krita will all be on hand to answer your questions, field suggestions or just chat.
In the merch department, you will be able to get your hands on our brand new Katie and Konqi stickers, especially designed to celebrate Plasma Mobile, along with a variety of other kute designs. You will also be able to purchase KDE gear, such as T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies. This is a great opportunity to not only spruce up your wardrobe, but also to contribute to KDE with a donation to our community - truly a win-win situation!