KDE plasma is one of the most featured-rich and beautiful Linux desktop environments. It is also the most customizable desktop environment that I have ever used. Recently, it received a new update Plasma 5.17 with a number of new features and improvements.
Plasma is the desktop environment for people who want modern looking, customizable, and want new features every now and then.
Plasma 5.17 came out a few days back and I was quick to hop on and test out the new features in a virtual machine. I installed KDE Neon’s latest version which is shipping with the updated version of plasma. If you want to try out the new version, please go here and download any one of the distros. All of these ships with the latest plasma desktop.
So let’s find out what’s new in the update.
Improved performance & boot up
You can check out the other articles I wrote on Plasma. I have always praised Plasma for its bootup speed and performance despite its modern-looking design, and a great number of customization it offers. In 5.17 also, the first thing I noticed was that the system boots up faster than ever. This happened due to many optimizations and one of which is that the start-up scripts have been converted from bash to C++.
Though I test it out in a virtual machine with just 1.9GB of memory.
As the name suggests, night light is in place to take care of your eyes while users are using system at night. Night light settings can be accessed from System Settings > Display & Monitory > Night Light. It was introduced in KDE 5.11 for Wayland display manager but now it’s also available for X11.
Night Light can detect user location and set hue and brightness based on that. If it gets darker, the user display will decrease the blue light and brightness to make it easy on the eyes. You can also set the automatic mode and let it switch screen brightness automatically or set the sunrise and sunset according to your liking.
Widgets are easier to edit
Widgets are important part of plasma desktop. Widgets can show important information on your desktop easily or let you access certain applications right from/on the desktop.
The widget editing has been improved in Plasma 5.17 specifically for touch screens.
Though I had an issue in moving widgets on my screen. I could not move a clock widget on my screen. It could be a bug or a system-specific problem(I am using Neon in VM). I hope to see it fixed real soon.
Shorthands for task manager & unit conversion
These two features make me continue with Plasma the most. These tiny features make up the user experience a whole lot easier & time-saving. Now middle-clicking an application in the task manager will create a new instance of the application. If you want to close the application, simply middle-click the popup of the application.
Convert units from KRunner and Kickoff. KRunner is the plasma launcher that lets you access system applications quickly. To trigger KRunner, hit ALT + SPACE. And Kickoff is the start menu.
Users can now convert units from KRunner and Kickoff just by typing it. No need for opening any app.
1 dollar to rupee
New Wallpaper of the day source
Plasma wallpaper manager is also very cool. Users can set wallpapers to change randomly. There is also a feature called ‘Wallpaper of the day’ that sets the best wallpaper from the selected source such as Bing, Flicker, Wikimedia and so on. First of all, in Plasma 5.17, instead of wallpapers change randomly, users can set the order.
Secondly, there is a new source for Picture of the day, Unplash. Unsplash is a popular website to get stunning wallpapers for free.
Sync system look & feel with the login screen
Plasma team focuses on making the desktop look & feel the way you want that’s why when you change the system’s fonts, theme & icons, you can also sync it with the login screen so you get the same look right from when system boots up.
In the same category, the team has also improved Breeze theme. If you ever change the system color scheme, the color scheme will work better than ever because now Breeze prefers the user-selected color scheme over its own.
Besides these, there are a few more improvements here and there.
- The notification icon has been changed to bell icon to better reflect its purpose.
- Overall settings interface is also improved
- KSysGuard, the system monitor now shows CGroup details & network usage for each process
- Discover app manager has also been improved and now shows real progress bars & spinners at some places