Detailed review of Plasma 5

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KDE, where convergence was born

Canonical clearly gets the credit for popularizing the term convergence, something Microsoft was also working on with its Windows 8. The concept of ‘this’ convergence first popped up in KDE and that’s what they were working on far before Canonical or Microsoft. The flip side of KDE is that unlike Canonical or Microsoft they don’t have dedicated marketing teams who work with press to talk about such technologies and concepts.

The KDE community often doesn’t get credit for things they do. It was actually funny to see a comment on a story where someone said that Plasma’s Launcher looks like that of Cinnamon’s. That user probably never knew that it’s Cinnamon who are inspired by KDE Desktop (back in those days it was still called KDE desktop).

With Plasma you get to see and experience the convergence we have been talking about for a while now. It’s the same code being used for devices running on different form factors. Now there is one shell which offers the appropriate UI for the device. It works in real-time, no log-out or reboot needed. If you connect a keyboard to a touch-based device, it will dynamically switch to ‘traditional’ desktop interface.

Redesigned launchers

Kickoff is the default menu of Plasma systems which I find hard to deal with at times. It has the tendency of not displaying the immediately installed application. It’s a known problem which has been reported multiple times. That is one of the reasons that I replace KickOff with either Lancelot or Homerun as these two don’t suffer with the same problem. I was assuming that the developers would have fixed it by now, but the problem is still there in Plasma 5.

Plasma's launcher can't open recently installed application
Plasma’s launcher can’t open recently installed application

Another annoying problem with KickOff used to be that it was a hit and miss when you enter the name of the application in the search box. The application may or may not show up. You type three letter of the application name and it will pop-up but the moment you typed the fourth letter it will be gone. That problem seems to have been fixed and it working great.

The good thing is here in KDE you can fix it by using an alternative, in other desktop environments like Unity you really don’t do much.

The text 'type here to search' plays hide and seek.
The text ‘type here to search’ plays hide and seek.

One notable visual change in KickOffic is the lack of ‘search’ field. There is no search field now you can just start typing and the appropriate results will populate the launcher. And that’s where I think hides a bug, at times you will see the text ‘type here to search’ and other times this info is not displayed so a new users will never know how to search.

It also shows files and folders along with applications (depending on your Baloo configuration), so that’s ‘one-stop-shop’ to find and open apps and files without compromising your privacy. Most Plasma users are aware of Krunner which can be triggered by ‘alt+f2’, which has got a new interface based on QtQuick.

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