back to article KDE Community releases Plasma 5.24: It's eccentric, just like many old-timers

The new release of KDE's Plasma desktop brings a GNOME Shell-like instant overview and other improvements. KDE is fairly mature now. The FOSS community was founded in 1996, allowing it to call last year's Plasma release, 5.23, the 25th Anniversary Edition. KDE 1.0 came out in 1998, making it the first FOSS desktop for Linux. …

  1. DarkRookie

    Many components, including Dolphin file manager and System Settings control panel, have been modernised and no longer include menu bars, just hamburger menus – but some accessories, such as text editors, still have the traditional layout.

    So, is it just the stupid menu button only, or can you still disable it and use something useful?

    1. gerryg

      Kameleon Desktop Environment.

      You can fairly much make it look and feel like anything you want. Which users think is a feature and detractors think is a bug.

      However to describe the current KDE as venerable is to fail to acknowledge that the code base has been refactored several times over the years to include new techniques and technologies.

      And as for the menu I think there are three choices if it matters to you.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

        I think the endless configurations available in KDE is what put me off the last time I made a serious attempt to use it. It just seemed to keep getting in my way when I wanted to do stuff.

        I can absolutely understand why people like it though. One of the many joys of Linux are the choices we get to make.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

          Yep/ Windows used to be like that. It's been said that people playing around with customising Win95/98 settings cost business a fortune in lost time :-) Nowadays, the biggest gripe with Windows is that there is so little you can customise to suit your own personal tastes and workflow. Full circle.

          1. david 12 Silver badge

            Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

            cost business a fortune in lost time

            Win started out as a niche product for Home/Small business: not a games console, not an enterprise green-screen environment.

            Now that they are a major player in Enterprise, with 'cloud' the new 'mainframe', it's Enterprise which dictates how much you're allowed to change, and how difficult it is to do so.

            1. Trixr

              Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

              I agree about the "cloudification by stealth" focus, but I really disagree it's about their enterprise customers. Well, at least not in terms of providing any flexibility to their customers (or actual cost savings much of the time for large enterprises, but you know those sums won't be done properly). They want to take it away from inhouse support, so an end user will basically fire up Windows, connect it to the cloud, and receive as uncustomisable an experience as MSFT can get away with.

              It'll be easier to slurp those up in due course by telling businesses they can increase their ROI further by getting rid of those expensive desktop devs (or solutions integrators, ditto). Too bad a lot of places will try drinking the kool-aid before they realise that not everything is in the cloud yet. Nor that it should be.

              Since they're giving away the consumer version, they want those peons in "upgrade" lockstep with even fewer customisable features to reduce their own end-user support burden.

              Honestly, as soon as I saw garbage like "xbox scheduled tasks" (yes, the gaming XBox!) and consumer data sync services in the *server* OS distributions from Server 2016+ ("contacts", "wallet" etc- you can't get rid of them, just disable, unless you run the Core version with no desktop - can't be done for some products), I just crossed my fingers I'll be able spin out the remainder of my career somehow without winding up in some horrible call centre or working for a "solutions provider" that just slaps their logo in the 16 x 200 px space provided for it in O365. I suppose we've still got Cobol bods out there. We'll see.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

          "It just seemed to keep getting in my way when I wanted to do stuff."

          That's the converse of my experience. I can customise it to work and look as consistently as possible from one generation to the next. It does what's needed when its needed and mostly keeps out of the way otherwise.

          There's one thing I wish they'd reinstate from version 3; the ability to set the panel unhide trigger to be a corner rather than the entire edge. Rationale: a typical maximised application is likely to have stuff at the bottom of the window that needs access even if it's only the scroll bar down button and taking the mouse down to that bounces the screen bottom panel back up to cover that critical bit of the screen for a couple of seconds. Limiting the unhide to the bottom left worked well.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

          A desktop environment is where an increasing number of us spend a significant part of our days. You definitely *want* it to be customisable so that over time you get it exactly the way that's more efficient for you.

          1. drankinatty

            Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

            Which has become increasingly difficult to do in KDE as it has modernized. Just try and set the clock/calendar font size in the taskbar -- used to be a simple right-click, now no longer available. Auto-sized - take what they give you -- even if you can't read it.

            1. badflorist

              Re: Kameleon Desktop Environment.

              "Just try and set the clock/calendar font size"

              This is where KDE becomes confusing to people... you can't do it because it's a different "widget" than the one you used to use; ie. the one that was good (like the one from the QT4 era). It's like this with everything, so undoubtedly you'll have to use something like "SierraBreezeEnhanced" or something similar/newer to alter functionality within a menu that you wouldn't expect to change (but does, it always does).

              It's the same with all things KDE, they're so customizable that new users don't understand it because they are used to only 1 option. Some new users might understand it, like the users that have sought other skins or replacements for things like, Midnight Commander or Windows's "Classic Shell", but to have these options built into a desktop is kind of foreign to most people (and the fact that how do you find it if you never tried it/download it before?).

              I can't stand the new clock widget myself. "Configure Digital Clock..." should undoubtedly have font size too, especially considering it has the option of italic... who uses italic on the clock? I wouldn't be using bold, but since it makes it bigger... :-/

              P.S. The author of this article seemingly complains about a larger clock... just how much do they REALLY use a desktop?

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      modernised and no longer include menu bars, just hamburger menus

      Exactly the thought I had.

      I appreciate that there are different schools of thought regarding menus and hamburgers and ribbons and all the other way of interacting with a system, but damnit I like menus. One per window, please, none of this global menu stuff thank you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: modernised and no longer include menu bars, just hamburger menus

        Ctrl+M

    3. theOtherJT

      s/modernised/made worse/

      When will UI people get it into their heads that were not all using a mobile phone? Stop. Hiding. Menus.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "hamburger menus"

      When, and more importantly WHY did this become the "preferred" name for what is clearly a stylised icon showing a representation of a list of or menu? It's the menu button, not a frigging hamburger.

      Now, git off ma lawn!!

      1. DanceMan

        "hamburger menus"

        Some stagehands loading a truck with a rectangular case will call "hamburger" if it's to go in across or "hot dog" if fore-aft.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "hamburger menus"

          My wife likes watching some of the US reality-type shows, the documentory-like ones, not the shouty fighty houswives ones. Of the few I've seen, they seem to be constantly peppered with "cool sounding" names for so many items, anything but their proper name. The truck rescue show she watches sounds especially dangerous when using slang terms while working with other crews because they are assuming everyone understands the slang term when in fact they may not. But you can be sure that everyone knows the proper name. The new guy might not know that "hamburger" means flat. He might ask or he might guess. Lets hope it's not a heavy, dangerous or highly valuable load he guessing at :-)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "hamburger menus"

            They are not guessing anything ... all of those so-called "reality TV" shows are heavily scripted (and most of them are also massively over produced, but that's another rant for another day). Everybody involved knows exactly what is going to happen next. How else do you get the camera in the right place at the right time for maximum titillation of the intended audience?

          2. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: "hamburger menus"

            Hamburger means flat? You mean those 18 layer Doric columns they call hamburgers down the local bistros and ex-pubs are 'flat'?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: "hamburger menus"

              "You mean those 18 layer Doric columns they call hamburgers down the local bistros and ex-pubs are 'flat'?"

              Compared to a proper Dagwood, yes. They are.

      2. Francis Boyle

        People give things names based on other things they remind them of. If you don't like it you probably should use your handheld pointing device to move your location indication symbol to the list of options activation area and then select the cease operations activation area.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          The difference is that the menu button was called the menu button first and only later became, to some people, a "hamburger" (actually, a hamburger in a bun, because a hamburger would just be - )The mouse became a mouse almost from conception in 1964 and long before it was released as a product.

    5. Updraft102

      "So, is it just the stupid menu button only, or can you still disable it and use something useful?"

      You can definitely fix it and return to a useful setup. There's nothing particularly modern about the hamburger menu... it's a kludge for phones (toys) that has been mistaken for modernity and ported inappropriately to real computers by people who know nothing of UI design or usability, but who want things to conform to their particular view of what is "pretty" or "modern."

    6. Skymonrie

      Easy to get toolbars back, just not so intutive

      Toolbars have not been removed at all, just by default, trying to move people over to using a Global Menu (see toolbar in your system taskbar instead).

      As a long time KDE user, can't say I appreciated this change either but, getting back to what you expect is much simpler than you may realize (<ctrl> + M...kinda sucks as most of the time won't work due to program shortcuts). Do the following:

      * Open System Settings

      * Go to Startup and Shutdown section

      * Go to Background Services

      * Uncheck the "Application menus daemon"

      Voila, sanity restored

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would love to see it has a gvfs equivalent

    Would love to see it now providing mount points on the filesystem for impromptu-connected remote server shares, giving access to the files on them to old and non-KIO-aware applications.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Would love to see it has a gvfs equivalent

      Dolphin's network panel does exactly this

  3. unimaginative
    Facepalm

    KDE has had exposé like features for years...

    ..... but it does seem to have been improved by showing panels and desktops as well as applications.

    It should be possible (its does not sound like a feature they will drop) to reduce the panel width if its vertical, as you can in older versions(including earlier 5.x ones).

    I suspect someone not used to KDE has not realised just how tweakable it is.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: KDE has had exposé like features for years...

      KDE has had exposé like features for years...

      Came here to post exactly that. Ok, so the version illustrated in the article has a few more bells and whistles and I look forward to seeing it appear in my copy of Tumbleweed, but pushing the mouse top-left has done the tiled-live-windows thing for quite some time now. It's all there in System Settings --> Desktop Effects / Screen Edges.

      And I hate menu-less windows too* but all the important ones have config options to re-enable menus, toolbars etc.

      M.

      *Well, frankly I'd prefer the menu-less window approach of RiscOS, where a middle-click pops up the application menu (that is, the same options Windows would give you just under the window's title bar, and MacOS would give you at the top of the screen) but menu-in-window is the next best thing.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: KDE has had exposé like features for years...

        I also came here to say the same thing. It's not so much new features as a fresh lick of paint or, as I would say, a bit of tarting up. Unless, of course, the author was in a hurry to be "first" and has left out all the actual changes and new features :-)

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: KDE has had exposé like features for years...

          Unless, of course, the author was in a hurry to be "first"

          Didn't manage that then, Phoronix got there quite considerably earlier (over 36 hours unless something's gone wrong with my counting*) and for all the detail, there's always the official announcement.

          To be fair, the KDE announcement itself says

          You can better leverage the power of multiple desktops in Plasma 5.24 with the new Overview effect. It is still in beta testing,...
          so you can see why it could be taken to imply this function is novel, not just updated.

          M.

          *El Reg posted at 1713 UTC on the 9th, Michael posted at 0755 EST (0255 UTC) on the 8th.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: KDE has had exposé like features for years...

        Ctrl+M gets you the menu back. Funnily enough I only realised today that my menu was gone from Gwenview. It's been hidden by default in Dolphin for quite a while too, which frankly doesn't bother me.

        There's probably a way to associate middle click with the show menu action too, though that would be a Qt thing.

        (Tumbleweed is fantastic by the way)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Panel

    At least you can still move it off to one side even if it makes your clock massive. MS forcing everyone to keep it in the bottom.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Panel

      I don't know about Windows 11. But in windows 10 I have the panel on the side.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Panel

        It was one of the most noted changes in Win 11 when they first announced it in summer 2021 - that the taskbar is stuck at the bottom and can't be moved. Every version from Win 95 to Win 10 has allowed it to be moved to top, bottom or sides but it's no longer allowed.

  5. HildyJ Silver badge
    Windows

    "It's eccentric, just like many old-timers"

    I resent resemble that.

  6. DarkwavePunk

    I'm still not that sure

    I kinda like some of the ideas. Feel like adding even more stuff to the "Exposé" style thing dilutes it actually. Having had to deal with OL(V)WM and CDE in the past and various other shitshows of so-called Desktop Environments they still fall flat. Obviously not the target audience for such things as FVWM would probably still be fine for my needs. Guess it comes down to choice which is nice. Remember - set your virtual desktops in a 3x3 grid, bind a function key and cursor keys to move between them, make sure the background is different on each VD. Or don't.

  7. Kev99 Silver badge

    I've tried distros with various desktops and frankly I can't tell the difference between them. Are all these these various desktops just paint & on the Linux walls or is there really any difference. Personally, I just the desktop to work, plain & simple, no gimics or pretty pictures that serve no real purpose. You know, nothing like windows desktop.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      This makes me wonder if you really did look at many different window managers and desktop environments. I can see quite a difference in design and user "experience". Try xfce or windowmaker (is that still under active development?). You might like the minimal approach. WM has no "start" button, and no side bar (but dockable widgets). KDE and Gnome are bloated beyond useability (for me).

      As somebody who does most stuff from a command line anyway (and an editor) I get your point. Relevant for me are things like: Does it have the programs I want? Does it have a console? Can I change network settings easily (I admit since everthing has been automated I no longer edit config files - the automagics interfere with that) when travelling? The window manager and the desktop environment should be unobtrusive and let me get my work done.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    KRunner

    Is the canine's genitalia.

    Such a time saver. You can run your calculations on that small widget at the top of the screen without interrupting your "flow". I use it all the time.

    I recently discovered that it does hours/degrees minutes and seconds conversions to decimal. E.g.: "3:30:45 - 1.5" → 2.0125

  9. drankinatty

    Plasma Instant Overview -- Meh... It's just a Compiz "Present Windows" alike available since KDE3

    I have a love/hate relationship with KDE. I loved KDE3, I hated when an alpha version of KDE4 was foisted on the openSUSE community May, 2008 in openSUSE 11. (KDE4_4.0.4a) I diligently did my part for KDE4 and Plasma, authoring some 400 bug reports over the years to get things working. (many of which remain unfixed)

    Let's take a quick look back. KDE3 2008 -- working fantastic and when coupled with Compiz-Fusion provided all the eye-candy Plasma provides today (except Compiz got the reflection on cylinder-rotation correct so the base reflection doesn't hop up/down on the bottom of the screen as if a cube was being rotated... The radius doesn't change in a cylinder ... just another bug report...)

    So roughly 14 years to suffer though KDE4 and get to the point where most of KDE5 has consistent dialogs and runs as smoothly as KDE3 did. I'm not sure how you measure progress, but that decade and a half to port KDE to multiple new Qt toolkits and then try and make it work as well as it did on Qt3 -- doesn't seems like progress. (we won't even start with the Gnome debacle and what used to be a good toolkit....)

    But I digress... The point being, before we consider something like "Instant Overview" something grand and new, it's worth taking a look at what did the same thing 14 years ago (on both KDE3 and Gnome2)

    I'd have more of a love relationship with KDE5 if I could just do things like set the damn clock font size to my liking in the task bar....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plasma Instant Overview -- Meh...

      Exactly this. KDE3 with Compiz Fusion was a pinnacle in GUI design. It's all gone downhill since then.

  10. bovender

    Whether system tray icons scale or not is a matter of changing the user preferences

    "making the panel vertical but wide results in the clock and buttons becoming huge: rather than fitting more controls into the extra space, they scale to fit. Xfce handles this much more elegantly."

    Right-click on the little triangle in the system tray, then click on "Configure system tray" and you will find two options for "panel icon size": "small" and "scale with panel height".

    I haven't tested though whether not having the icons scale will cause them to be moved closer together, as the author would like to have it.

  11. SecretSonOfHG

    Is that Baloo thing disabled by default?

    Each and every time I upgrade KDE I find it fantastic and very usable. But only for the first minute or so, because the indexing service starts attempting to index GB-sized XML test files and bogs down the machine... so each and every KDE upgrade ends up in a quest to find what's making the machine unusable, and then disable Baloo, then starting working as usual.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is that Baloo thing disabled by default?

      On first run, immediately turn off indexing under File Search in System Settings/Workspace/Search.

      1. chololennon
        Happy

        Re: Is that Baloo thing disabled by default?

        "On first run, immediately turn off indexing under File Search in System Settings/Workspace/Search."

        I do the same, and after that, I install my old friend "kfind" (I also associate a directory with that utility in order to use it from Dolphin)

  12. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Pirate

    And All This Time, I have Never Once Discovered What 'Plasma' Means...

    Used KDE practically all my Linux Life.

    .

    Still think it the best --- and more so when they once more have separate wallpapers for each Virtual Desktop as in the old days --- but the frequent modernizing fugly flattish changes continue to repel. For some reason they think change is good even if it diminishes the experience.

    Just as I have made Pale Moon the aspect of Firefox 2012 -- Fx lost me when they went to Australis, and before that I swore by Fx --- my PCLinux, up to date this very afternoon, strictly duplicates 2012 as well. I DON'T want modern. If it were reversed and all these new looks were the old looks, then I would want to change to the look I prefer, because it's not just about the shock of the new, but because of the aesthetics. All these relentless changes never come with any choice of rejecting those aspects one hates.

    Konqueror was an indifferent browser but a great file manager --- so they exchanged it as default file manager for Dolphin, which is utterly awful and requires as well frequent monitoring to stop it sucking up memory; the loss of the Menu Bar on many applications is tragic, since however old-fashioned they deem it, it remains better than anything they can come along with --- CTRL+M may bring it back for now, but why make it required ? As with most of these repairs newcomers won't even know it's an option, or know what it was like to have a Menu Bar...

    It's all about doing to the Devs' way, not as one likes. Everyone knows the cool people only want black everything, however poor their eyesight: Gwenview until last year had a sliding colour-bar to determine the background to images from white to black, all the shades of gray, exactly precise. Then it went to a preselected set of buttons on the base-bar Background Colour ( which turns out to be white ), White, a mid-Gray, and Black. Choice diminished. A week or so ago it went for a while after a reboot to all black all the time. There is no benefit to the changes.

    .

    .

    Perhaps worst are all these vile Gnome/Red Hat droppings left around: it took a lot of work to disable the beastly GVFS which filled the task manager with many unkillable CPU gobbling instances; but now it is virtually impossible to remove GAMIN aka gam_server in the task manager or synaptic, which uses around 69% of CPU on occasion --- why ? because like all-embracing systemd, if one tries, it takes out a host of other needed things, including Kate, Ark, PlayOnLinux Dolphin, Gwenview, Bleachbit, Filelight, KcharSelect, Kio etc. etc.. It's just a file monitoring system [ out of FAM ]: no need for it to be so intertwined.

    [ Note well, it would also take out Baloo and Akonadi; which would be a blessing if I didn't take out all the spy stuff anyway, including Virtuoso and Strigi. Semantic Desktops suck, so very, very hard. ]

    [ Note well, PCLinuxOS is systemd-free. ]

    .

    Once they get rid of the classic menu I will have to leave.

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