Plasma Bigscreen powers the interface on a Single Board Computer and uses the Mycroft AI voice assistant to provide a Smart TV platform. Plasma Bigscreen will deliver not only media-rich applications, but also traditional desktop applications redesigned to fit the Bigscreen experience.
Advantages of Plasma Bigscreen
Free (as in Freedom) and Open Source: One of the most important goals of this project is to hand control over to the people and the industry so they can build and power smart devices without the limits of other closed TV environments. Plasma Bigscreen is completely Free and Open Source and gives everyone the freedom to use, acquire, change and redistribute the software how they see fit. It also gives people the freedom to create, innovate and improve on top of the Plasma Bigscreen and share their work with the world.
Innovative: Plasma Bigscreen transforms the traditional plasma workspace experience into something that is controlled with a regular TV remote control. This is new territory for KDE interface designers and requires a new thinking of how to layout applications and how to make it easy for people to interact with Plasma from their couches.
Voice Control: Talking of interacting from the couch, voice control provides users with the ultimate comfort when it comes to TV viewing. But most big brands not only do not safeguard the privacy of their customers, but actively harvest their conversations even when they are not sending instructions to their TV sets. We use Mycroft's Open Source voice assistant to solve this problem.
For the current beta img, the team connects to Mycroft's Home server, which by default uses Google's STT (Speech to text) which sends anonymized utterances to Google. This, of course, is not ideal, but being Open Source, you can switch out the back end and use whatever you want, even self-hosted systems like Mozilla Deepspeech. Or you can de-activate voice recognition altogether. Your choice.
With Mycroft AI, the Bigscreen team intend to give users all the comfort of a smart voice controlled assistant with the advantages of the control over you privacy you can only achieve with Open Source software.
Easy to Expand: Mycroft's AI uses what are called "skills". Skills allow the assistant to learn about and perform different tasks. A weather skill, for example, lets Mycroft know about the weather and tell you what the day is going to be like; a cooking skill retrieves recipes and instructions and you can then ask Mycroft to help you make a delicious meal. There are already many skills in Mycroft's library and Mycroft AI's graphical framework for skills is built on top of Qt and Kirigami, two mature development frameworks. This allows third-party developers to use Python and QML to develop rich voice skills for the platform, which means features on KDE Bigscreen will multiply and provide even more functionalities to viewers.
Simple settings make Bigscreen easy to tweak.
Community Supported: Plasma Bigscreen was created and is being maintained by KDE developers. KDE is one of the oldest, largest Free Software communities in existence and builds and maintains literally hundreds of projects, spanning from a full-featured desktop environments and development frameworks, to educational software and creativity apps. With the support of KDE, Plasma Bigscreen will develop quickly and grow to have as many features as users require.
Coming to a Screen Near You
The upcoming beta release for Plasma Bigscreen is already working on the Raspberry Pi 4. It's targeted to run on a TV screen, but will also work fine on a regular monitor.
The interface is largely designed to be easy to use with a remote control. There is experimental support for HDMI-CEC in the beta image, so anyone with a TV that supports HDMI-CEC can choose to use their TV remotes.
The YouTube app.
As one of the key features of Plasma Bigscreen is Mycroft's voice-controlled applications/skills, it's recommended to use a USB/Bluetooth remote with a microphone to try it out. Some recommended generic USB remotes are the WeChip G20 / W2 remote controls. It can also be used with a keyboard / mouse and any USB microphone.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2020/02/25 - 12:17pm
By Niccolo Venerandi
On the 20th of February, our first video contest finished and winners were decided by a panel of judges.
This was the first time we run a video contest and we were really excited to see how much the community got involved, the quality of the videos and the onboarding effect that this contest would have.
All the submitted videos show great effort on behalf of the creators and it was extremely difficult to select the winner -- at one point there was even a tie! But, at last, we were able to select a winner and finalists for each category.
Without further ado, let's dive into the results:
Plasma Video Contest
The winner of the Plasma contest is Skye Fentras with their video "Plasma 2020". Congratulations! Skye will get a fantastic TUXEDO gaming PC, featuring a powerful Intel core i7, 16GB of RAM, 250GB NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD and an Nvidia GTX1050Ti video card.
Check out Skye's video below:
Skye Fentras: "Plasma 2020"
The three finalists for the Plasma category are:
KonqiDragon with his video "Plasma 5.18 Promo"
Nayam Amarshe with "This is Plasma"
Kubee for "This is Plasma"
All finalists will receive a package with a KDE baseball cap, a plush Tux, and more.
See their videos below:
KonqiDragon: "Plasma 5.18 Promo
Nayam Amarshe: "This is Plasma"
Kubee: "This is Plasma"
Apps Video Contest
The second category of this contest was for videos showcasing KDE applications. The winner of this category is KonqiDragon, with their stunning "KDE applications Promo" video. KonqiDragon wins a TUXEDO InfinityBox, featuring an Intel core i3, 16GB of RAM and 250GB of SSD.
See the winning video below:
KonqiDragon: "KDE Applications Promo"
The two finalists for this category are:
Katia with "Dolphin File Manager" and "Meet KDE Applications"
Tauheedelahee with "KDE Plasma Applications Promotional Video"
Again, they will both receive a package with a KDE baseball cap, a plush Tux, and more.
We'd like to thank TUXEDO Computers for helping make all this happen. TUXEDO Computers have been incredibly generous providing prizes to both winners and finalists of the contest. We would also like to thank all participants and invite you all to carry on making videos promoting KDE!
Gpg4KDE is the encryption system that you use each time you encrypt and sign messages in KMail. Gpg4win, used for encrypting and signing emails on Windows, is built upon KDE's certificate manager Kleopatra. The German Government has now ranked both secure enough to be used when transmitting messages with VS-ONLY FOR SERVICE USE (VS-NfD), EU RESTRICTED and NATO RESTRICTED levels of confidentiality.
In view of the recent Rubicon/Crypto AG/CIA scandal, this is further evidence that FLOSS encryption technology is the only reliable encryption technology.
In recent decades, Free and open source software (FOSS) has increasingly been the enabling factor for advances in areas we probably aren’t even aware of. If software is still spreading around the world, FOSS had already spread through the software world. All of that is only possible because of striving communities that push solutions forward with an amazing flow of continuous passion and love for nice technology, open knowledge, and supporting people. KDE is not any different - we have all been involved in such a lovely addiction for 23 years.
Today, February 14th 2020, The Free Software Foundation Europe calls everyone to express their gratitude to all FOSS contributors around the world with the eleventh annual “I Love Free Software” campaign. It’s a day when we focus on drawing everyone’s attention to the amazing work done by thousands of FOSS contributors from many communities, most of them voluntarily dedicating their spare time to create high-quality software technology readily and openly available to everyone.
What about you? Have you or your company/university been using Free software lately? Have you already thought about contributing back to that amazing FOSS community that creates the applications you use daily? It’s certainly a very rewarding and inspiring experience, with a lot of contributions made possible by people from different backgrounds.
For now, how about enjoying this day by telling us why you love Free software, or expressing your gratitude to the people behind those projects? Use #ilovefs and #ilovekde tags on your social media to share that picture of you with your favorite Free software T-shirt, or show off all those amazing stickers on your laptop’s lid. Organize a meet-up, submit a bug fix or documentation improvement, make a donation, or just hang out with some friends to celebrate! Everything counts when letting the world know how grateful and passionate we are about Free software.
As nearly all large and experienced Free software communities, KDE is made out of people who strongly believe that enabling everyone to take control of their digital lives can really make a difference. We love being part of this, and that love unfolds into many different actions. We develop almost 200 applications translated to 76 languages plus a full-fledged modern desktop environment (KDE Plasma). We run many contribution sprints around the world in addition to our main yearly gathering (Akademy), where we renew our energy by meeting old and new friends in person. What a lovely way to enjoy our lives!
Today, we invite you to join us in this vibrant flow of gratitude by sharing your FOSS love stories on social media. Use #ilovefs and #ilovekde tags in your posts, so we can find them more easily. We would love to hear about your favorite KDE things.
Submitted by jriddell on Wed, 2020/02/12 - 12:13pm
FOSDEM is one of the world's largest Free software conferences and was held last weekend in Brussels. There were hundreds of talks and videos are available for most of them. KDE had a stall there and KDE contributors delivered three talks spread between different devrooms.
How QML, a language prominently used for designing UI, could be used to create title video clips containing text and/or images. The videos can then be rendered and composited over other videos in the video-editing process. Kdenlive's Google Summer of Code 2019 project tried to achieve this and is still under active development.
QML is used primarily for UI development in Qt Applications. It provides an easy way of designing and creating interactive, clean and a modern UI. Kdenlive is a popular non-linear open-source video editor and it currently makes use of XML to describe title clips -- clips which contain text or images used to composite over videos. XML requires more processing in the backend as one needs to explicitly write code for, say an animation of the text. Using QML eases this restriction, making the backend more robust and maintainable as rendering in QML makes use of a dedicated Qt Scene Graph. Kdenlive's Google Summer of Code 2019 student Akhil Gangadharan Kurungadathil tried to achieve this by creating a new rendering backend library and a new MLT QML producer which is still under active development. Owing to the dedicated scene graph while rendering, this could also possibly lead to greater overall performance.
In Plasma 5.18 you will find neat new features that make notifications clearer, settings more streamlined and the overall look more attractive. Plasma 5.18 is easier and more fun to use, while at the same time allowing you to be more productive when it is time to work.
Apart from all the cool new stuff, Plasma 5.18 also comes with an LTS status. LTS stands for "Long Term Support". This means 5.18 will be updated and maintained by KDE contributors for the next two years (regular versions are maintained for 4 months). If you are thinking of updating or migrating your school, company or organization to Plasma, this version is your best bet, as you get the most stable version of Plasma *and* all the new features too.
This is the not the first time Handshake has made a substantial donation to the KDE Community. Back in 2018 Handshake donated approximately USD 300,000 to KDE which was used to finance projects and fund activities.
"The Handshake Naming System is a child of the Open Source Community", says Andrew Lee from the Handshake Foundation. "Just like Handshake, KDE has championed privacy and freedom since the beginning and has paved the way forward in creating usable tools made for the masses.
"Personally, I've used KDE software since the early 2000s, and I've seen it grow and flourish. I think, many people today would be surprised to hear that Apple Safari, for example, was based originally on Konqueror, a web browser created by the KDE Community. The Handshake Naming System is proud to be able to make a donation to the KDE team. It is our way of showing appreciation for KDE, as much of the development in the Open Source world would not have been possible without it."
KDE would like to thank the Handshake Foundation for their continued generosity and the support they offer to FLOSS communities across the spectrum. This contribution will help KDE continue with its commitment to create Free Software for everyone, finance events and sponsor community members.
You can help KDE too! All you need to do is join the Community and be part of our mission to help people maintain their privacy and their control over their digital lives with Free Software.
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash.
The prizes are two fantastic TUXEDO computers, one per category, which will undoubtedly boost your film rendering capacity. There are also 12 goodie packages for runner-ups, and who doesn't need more Linux shirts, caps and stickers?
Although we have already received some interesting entries, we feel it may be time to help video artists out there with ideas from the judges themselves.
Below, Julian Schraner, Ivana Isadora Devčić, and Paul Brown from the Promo team and Farid Abdelnour from the Kdenlive team give their views on what a KDE promotional video should look like, where to find resources, and which pitfalls may hurt your film if you fall for them.
I have five simple recommendations for participants:
Avoid videos that contain only screencasts
Break the mold, be creative
Use motion graphics techniques (have a look at animation nodes)
Choose a good catchy song and work on that editing
Make it short, make sure there is something happening in every single frame. Cut out lulls -- they're boring
Here's my list of things I would recommend doing, as well as what to avoid:
No slideshows, please! Don't make the video look like someone animated a PowerPoint presentation with zoomed-in screenshots sliding into view and fading out. That just looks cheap and low-effort.
Don't overdo it with memes and attempts at humor. As amusing as it may be to you and your 3 friends, things like that do not always translate well across cultures and generations. It's OK to add a cheeky moment if it's appropriate with the general theme of your video, but trying to make the entire video "funny" might send the message that you think Plasma is a joke.
It's OK to include real, actual people in the video. Anyone can easily make a screencast, but it takes effort - and shows that you made an effort! - to film people using Plasma. Including clips of people using Plasma can make a much stronger impact than just showing the desktop, even if the clips are short.
This is very, very basic and Captain Obvious-style, but: background music can have this cool thing called volume. Playing with volume can add depth and variety to your video. Make the background music louder in some parts and softer in others, depending on the effect you're trying to achieve. If it's always the same, the entire video can easily seem monotonous, even if it's only a minute long.
If possible, don't use computer-generated voices for voice-overs in the video (that is, if you're going to have any at all). 98% of them sound really fake and distract from the actual content, or just make the video sound boring. Even if you don't have a particularly radio-friendly voice, it will still sound more natural and normal if you record yourself (or try asking someone to help).
Great videos tell a story; they're not just a semi-connected list of clips with background music tacked on. Try to develop a little story that sends a specific message instead of just showing random Plasma features. It's also very easy to fall into the trap of comparing Plasma to something else and disparaging other DEs, so please try to avoid that.
Personally, I do not want to see "wobbly windows" in any of the videos. Plasma is more than just KWin effects; we're looking for videos that will make people think "wow, this could be really useful to me, I wanna try it", not "haha that's a cool gimmick, I bet I can move the mouse fast enough to break it".
Another important thing - if the video does have any narration/voice-over, I would ask that you include subtitles (at least as a separate file, if hard-coding them is a bad practice). Accessibility is a must!
I've split my recommendations into 3 parts: the footage you can use, the music (and other sounds), and the editing; that is, the raw materials and how you put them together.
Like Ivana, I would personally like to see some live action mixed in with the screencasts. You can grab your phone, and go and film something you can then work into the story. Or you can also take some public domain footage from the Internet Archive.
If you look at Real LifeTM advertisements, they don't only show the product, they also show people doing stuff with the product. Most of our videos are already a bunch of screencasts chained together. I want to see something different.
That said, when you do insert screencast footage, make sure you show something interesting happening in the applications. Don't show an empty folder in Dolphin, a blank square in Krita, or a boring, text-only document in Okular. Make sure there's some color in there and that you can see the user doing something.
As for footage of people, try to avoid stock footage, especially those clips that show smartly dressed white people looking at a computer screen, pointing and smiling. It's like the stock photos of women laughing at salads: you see that kind of stuff everywhere and it looks soooo fake. It is nearly as bad as stock music. Nearly...
"My salad is hilarious!"
Another thing to take into account is that you have to be careful with copyrights! Anything that has not been published before 1924 and doesn't have an explicit free license or isn't explicitly in the public domain, is under a regular copyright and may not be used without the authors' or the copyright holders' express written permission. Also, make sure the person distributing the work is the owner of the work. Don't blindly trust a random Youtuber!
TIP: Apart from the Internet Archive, many public institutions publish footage for free on the Internet. One such organization that comes to mind is NASA.
The best way to make me switch off a video after a few seconds is by choosing the "wrong" music. Ironically, "the wrong music" is often that heartless, bland music used in nearly every single corporate video. I swear I would prefer to have hot wax poured into my ears rather than listen to another hokey, fake-quirky ukulele theme in my life.
The best kind of ukelele.
Conversely, sometimes what may seem the wrong music is in fact the right music. Stuff that you can't imagine going together, goes together. Salsa for Spectacle, flamenco for Falkon and power-pop for Plasma? Why not?
Again, be careful with copyrighted stuff. The same thing that applies to footage, applies to music. Besides, just because Johann Sebastian Bach died 300 years ago, doesn't mean that you can use that Von Karajan recording of his Cantatas: the recording itself will be copyrighted.
Most artists on Jamendo release their music under a liberal license as long it is not used for commercial purposes. And making a video for a competition organized by a non-profit that will not generate any money for you or for the non-profit IS NOT a commercial purpose. Also check out Free Music Archive and especially Juanitos: They make great, fun retro pseudo-ethnic music and distribute it under very generous terms.
On the other hand, go easy with Incompetech -- his music can be lovely, but it is EVERYWHERE. If you must use one of his tracks, make sure you poke around and go for his less obvious stuff.
TIP: If you need a voice-over but are not confident that your own voice will sound okay, try Fiverr. For a few dollars, you can have a professional actor read out your script.
Avoid canned transitions that come as standard with your video-editing software (Kdenlive, right?). They may impress your parents, but everybody else thinks they're lazy.
Related to the above, avoid excessively flashy transitions, even if they are original. I am personally guilty of using animations to transition from one scene to another, but if they are not part of the story, they can draw attention to themselves and away from the real content, distracting the viewer. Most of the time, nothing beats a good clean cut.
The same goes for effects: don't overdo them! Effects are great to confer atmosphere, but if they are not doing that, they are just distracting from the story, and more often than not, make the action harder to follow. Here's looking at all those "editors" that place a screencast into the picture of a monitor! Yes, I get it: you do masks. So does everybody.
TIP: If you do need effects for your video, don't limit yourself to the catalogue supplied by your editing software. Check out things like Blender and Natron -- these programs are used a lot for effects and filters for a reason.
Apart from everything mentioned above, I would encourage participants to look into using motion graphic techniques rather than sticking to simple transitions when possible. For that, you can use tools like Blender's Animation Nodes addon.
Something that is often overlooked is the matter of typography. Choose your fonts wisely! If you have text on the screen, avoid the default bland fonts. Go to Font Squirrel or Google Fonts for a great selection of free and open types to choose from.
Same goes for video titles.
If you need footage, check out Pexels it contains a lot of high quality clips for free.
About KDE's Video Contest
KDE is looking for talented videographers and filmmakers that will help promote our free software through the medium of video. There are two categories in this contest: in the Plasma category we want participants to create a video that will promote KDE's Plasma desktop to the world. The Applications category is to help promote one or several KDE applications.
Submissions must be sent in before the 20th of February 2020. To find out more, check out the full rules.
This new version of your favorite desktop environment adds neat new features that make your life easier, including clearer notifications, streamlined settings for your system and the desktop layout, much improved GTK integration, and more. Plasma 5.18 is easier and more fun, while at the same time allowing you to do more tasks faster.
Apart from all the cool new stuff, Plasma 5.18 also comes with LTS status. LTS stands for "Long Term Support" and this means 5.18 will be updated and maintained by KDE contributors for the next couple of years (regular versions are maintained for 4 months). So, if you are thinking of updating or migrating your school, company or organization to Plasma, this version is your best bet. You get the most recent stable version of Plasma for the long term.
Read on to discover everything that is new in Plasma 5.18 LTS…
Customize Layout Global Settings
GTK Applications with CSDs and Theme Integration
Night Color System Tray Widget
Emoji Selector that can be opened through the application launcher or with the Meta + . keyboard shortcut
New global edit mode which replaces the desktop toolbox button and lets you easily customize your desktop layout
Improved touch-friendliness for the Kickoff application launcher and widget editing
Support for GTK applications which use Client Side Decorations, adding proper shadows and resize areas for them
GTK apps now also automatically inherit Plasma's settings for fonts, icons, cursors and more.
There's a new System Tray widget for toggling the Night Color feature and by default it automatically appears when it's on
More compact design to choose the default audio device in the Audio Volume System Tray widget
Clickable volume indicator and tooltip item highlight indicators in the Task Manager
Circular Application Launcher menu user icon
Option to hide the lock screen clock
It's now possible to configure keyboard shortcuts that turn Night Color and Do Not Disturb mode on or off
Windy conditions shown in weather widget
The timeout indicator on notification popups has been made circular and surrounds the close button
A draggable icon in the "file downloaded" notification has been added, so you can quickly drag it to places
Plasma now shows you a notification warning when a connected Bluetooth device is about to run out of power
Plasma gained optional User Feedback settings (disabled by default), allowing you to give us detailed system information and statistics on how often individual features of Plasma you use
Added a slider for the global animation speed
Redesigned Application Style settings with a grid view
Improved the search in the system settings sidebar
An option to scroll to clicked location in the scrollbar track has been added
The System Settings Night Color page has a clearer user interface now
Discover's default keyboard focus has been switched to the search field
It's now possible to search for add-ons from the main page
Added nested comments for addons
Made design improvements to the sidebar header and reviews
Decreased the amount of visual glitches in apps when using fractional scaling on X11
Made it possible to show NVIDIA GPU stats in KSysGuard
New Since 5.12 LTS
For those upgrading from our previous Long Term Support release here are some of the highlights from the last two years of development:
Completely rewritten notification system
Plasma Browser Integration
Many redesigned system settings pages, either using a consistent grid view or just an overhauled interface
Global menu support for GTK applications
Display Management improvements including new OSD and widget
Redmond will no longer provide updates for the 2009 operating system. This puts almost a billion people in the difficult situation of facing increased security risks alongside a slow decline in software availability.
Folks who reject Microsoft’s forced updates are already opting to regain control over their systems by switching to the friendly and full-featured Plasma desktop, built on a design philosophy which centers freedom and respect for its users. Recent buzz about the possibilities of Plasma has brought a lot of fresh faces on board, and now they are trying to navigate a new operating system that has its differences from Windows.
If you’re one of those people, you’re probably wondering where you can find experienced users to help you get settled in.
How to make the jump with ease
Luckily, there is a wealth of resources available for those new to Plasma and the Linux world.
The best place to talk live with Plasma users, ask questions, and get to know the KDE community is the KDE Welcome room on our webchat or on Matrix. If you want to discuss Plasma and comment on the latest KDE news with other users, find r/KDE on Reddit or check out the official KDE forums.
AskUbuntu.com is the largest dedicated tech support site in the Linux world, and an invaluable resource for anyone using KDE Neon or Kubuntu. Much of the info available here even translates well to other Linux flavors. Other places for specific support questions include r/Linux4Noobs and r/LinuxQuestions on Reddit. Talking of which, another great resource is the Linux Questions forums.
Once you have a little bit of experience under your belt, if you run into trouble with a specific system component, you can always resort to the Arch Linux wiki, an in-depth hub of documentation which is often useful to users of any Linux system.
Everyone in the KDE community is familiar with the hurdles new users face when making the jump to Plasma and the Free Software world. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of KDE's welcoming community who will help you feel right at home in Plasma and make sure you get the most out of your newly upgraded system.