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What’s New in KDE Plasma 5.25

Jack Wallen checks out what’s new with the latest release of the KDE Plasma open source desktop.

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The latest release of the KDE Plasma Desktop is the latest update to the fantastic 5.24 LTS release and brings with it a few additions that really give the open source desktop even more panache. While these new additions won’t make you more productive, they add just enough shine to the desktop to give current and potential users something to get excited about.

Let’s take a look and see what’s up with this latest release.

How I Use KDE Plasma 5.25 . tested

To test KDE Plasma 5.25 I installed a new virtual machine using the KDE Neon distribution. At first I tried to use the test version, but it failed every time I ran the installer.

Instead, I chose to go the stable route, which offers a nice presentation of what KDE Plasma 5.25 is all about. I’ll warn you that even the stable version of KDE Neon (as shipped with KDE 5.25) isn’t exactly the most stable desktop I’ve ever tried. I even noticed KWin crashing on me regularly. Is this a Neon or KDE 5.25 product? We may never know. It took me a few installs, but I eventually managed to get a reliable desktop up and running.

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KDE 5.25 has yet to arrive in the stock repositories, and testing with every distribution that contains it can be a frustrating exercise.

That said, let’s see what’s new with the latest KDE Plasma desktop.

Plasma overview

The Plasma Overview actually got life in the 5.24 release, but with 5.25 it’s getting a bit of shine to help with workspace switching. What changes is that some effects have been completely rewritten to be more dynamic. Ultimately, though, the Plasma Overview feels just a little more stable and 100% usable. This feature was a long time coming and I was excited to see it added in the previous release.

The Overview is activated by the Super+W key combination and shows not only your open applications but also your virtual desktops (Image A

Image A

The overview of KDE 5.25 helps make your workflow significantly easier.

Touch Enhancements

If you install KDE Plasma 5.25 on a touchscreen device, you’ll be happy to know that it includes 1:1 touchpad gestures, meaning when you use touchpad gestures, windows move as fast as your fingers, so there’s is no more frustrating delay.

Along the same lines, 5.25 is the first version of the Plasma Desktop to offer Touch mode, which greatly improves the experience of KDE Plasma on tablet devices. Even better, touch mode is automatically enabled when a touch device is removed or disconnected from a keyboard.

Floating panels

I’m not going to lie, for my life I can’t understand why the new floating panel feature (Figure B) is there, but it looks pretty cool. And even if this feature doesn’t offer anything to increase productivity, I like it.

Figure B

The floating panel option gives the desktop an even more modern edge.

You can enable the floating panel by right-clicking the panel and selecting Enter Edit Mode. Click More options and then from the pop-up menu (Figure C), click Floating Panel.

Figure C

Enable Floating Panel mode in KDE 5.25.

KDE Discover

The KDE software store, Discover, also got some love through a redesigned application page, which adds an application’s level of access to system resources. You will also find support for removing both settings and user data for Flatpak apps and warnings when installing proprietary software.

Other Additions and Improvements

Here is a shortlist of other additions/improvements for KDE 5.25:

  • Multi-finger gesture support has been dramatically improved.
  • The ability to disable screen edge actions for gaming purposes.
  • Better support for GTK apps with the Breeze GTK theme.
  • A new “shake” effect has been added to the login screen when incorrect credentials are entered.
  • Many applets and widgets have been updated and improved.

Conclusion

This one was a bit of a challenge, especially since even the stable version of KDE Neon was far from stable. It seemed like I was all about blinking and the desktop crashed. Again, I have no idea if this was due to the NEON distribution or to KDE 5.25 itself.

Anyway, testing this new release of KDE Plasma was less than spectacular. However, in between crashes, I was able to get a glimpse of what this next iteration of KDE Plasma will look like, and it’s absolutely stunning. Once it’s a bit more reliable and available in the stock repositories, this could easily become a desktop favorite for many a Linux user.

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