The developers of the Plasma desktop environment have released a new version. Although this mainly brings improvements in details, it receives updates as a long-term support version (LTS) for a significantly longer period.
One of the most visible innovations is the improved integration of GTK applications. These now take over the fonts, symbols, cursors and other graphic elements used by Plasma. Plasma 5.18 LTS also turns up loud KDE's announcement of the new version the GTK applications now default to the Breeze GTK theme. However, distributions can turn this behavior off.
Some GTK applications draw their frames themselves using so-called client side decorations. Such windows now appear on the plasma desktop with correct shadows and handles to adjust the window size.
New in the system tray
If you click on the volume icon, you can now more easily select the standard audio device for playback in a more compact view. If an application plays sounds, a clickable volume symbol appears directly in its entry on the window bar. The weather widget (or in the German version weather "mini program") also shows the wind conditions.
The night colors can be switched on and off via a new symbol in the system section of the control bar (system tray). With the function, plasma bathes the screen in warmer colors in the evenings. This should protect the eyes and enable you to fall asleep faster after work. The night colors as well as the do not disturb or do not disturb mode can be activated using freely selectable keyboard shortcuts.
Speaking of notifications: The corresponding messages already showed a small progress bar in the previous version. This visualizes when plasma automatically closes the message. In version 5.18, the progress bar now runs in a circle around the close button. If Plasma reports a completed download, a symbol appears in the corresponding window. This allows users to drag and drop the downloaded file to the desired location.
Plasma 5.18 also "connects" connected Bluetooth devices that are in danger of running out of power.
Furthermore, there were many small improvements in the operation. Among other things, (Windows) + (.) Opens the selection window for emojis, which can alternatively be called up via the Start menu under "Utilities". The kickoff start menu and widget editing are now easier to control using touch gestures, and the clock on the lock screen can also be hidden.
Plasma 5.18 discards the old hamburger menu in the top right corner of the screen – in older plasma versions it still showed a cashew nut symbol. If you want to customize the workspace and add widgets, for example, you must right-click on the desktop and then select the "CustomizeLayout" menu item. Plasma then opens a small menu at the top of the screen (the Global Edit Bar), which offers all the necessary functions for adapting the desktop.
Discover and system settings
The software management Discover activates the search field by default. Users can simply type in the name of the application they are looking for. The add-ons can also be browsed from the homepage. The developers have slightly revised the sidebar and the reviews.
The KSysGuard tool now presents information about Nvidia graphics cards, including the percentage utilization of the graphics processor.
Small adjustments were also made in the system settings. The speed of window animations can be controlled using a slider. The page with the Samba status information, after it had previously not worked correctly, completely rewritten by the developers, The selection of the application style is now clearer thanks to an improved preview, the settings of the night colors are easier to make and the developers have improved the search function built into the system settings.
Plasma is watching you
The developers have given Plasma a feedback system that application developers can integrate into their programs. The function then automatically sends telemetry data to the respective developer in the background. Plasma users control how extensive the transmitted data is in the new "User Feedback" area in the system settings.
There the function is switched off by default, Plasma and its programs remain silent. However, the plasma developers hope that many users will switch on the transmission. The information obtained in this way should then flow into the improvement of plasma.
Finally, the developers corrected numerous errors. For example, if you use X11 mode to enlarge the user interface with crooked factors such as 1.25, you should now see fewer graphic errors.
The developers have been keeping some selected plasma versions particularly long. Most recently, this was true for Plasma 5.12. Version 5.18, which has now been released, also receives this Long Term Support, or LTS for short. All other versions only receive bug fixes for around four months. The KDE developers recommend the LTS version for areas in which particularly stable software is required, such as in schools and companies. However, the developers have not yet announced how long Plasma 5.18 will receive bug fixes, at least you want to maintain LTS versions for 1.5 years.
While the changes for the update from Plasma 5.16 to 5.18 are limited, the innovations when switching from Plasma 5.12 are much more extensive. From the perspective of users who take this step, Plasma offers, among other things, a completely new notification system, browser integration, revised system settings in many areas, support for Thunderbold devices and the night color function.
You can try Plasma 5.18 easily with the live system KDE Neon,
. (tagsToTranslate) desktop environment (t) KDE (t) KDE Plasma (t) Linux and Open Source