KDE 5.0: 4 Things We Want To See

kde50wishes

Maybe this division makes more sense in German, I’m not sure, but to me this is hard to get my mind around.  I understand separating behavior from appearance, but I think that all appearance related entries should be combined in the same place.  Who’s to say that all users can, or need to make the distinction between Plasma and the desktop theme?

I should also mention that it looks and acts a heck of a lot like the system settings panel from KDE 3.5, which is the product of a much by-gone era.

3 Dynamic Default Theme

Oxygen is a fitting name for the default KDE theme.  It’s beautiful, elegant, and it’s (it was) a breath of fresh air for many users.  KDE has always had a certain ‘clunky snappiness’ to it, and while that doesn’t seem to have changed much, the smooth curves, gradients, and subtle divisions of widget elements make it seem as smooth as butter.  Gray or platinum does get boring after a little while though.  How about a splash of color in the title bar, or how about some official transparency that makes good use of your graphics card and Kwin?  Even with the unofficial transparency effect added to Oxygen on KDE 4, there is still much left to be desired.  A hack is not what we need here.  We need something fresh that blows everything else away.

4 Stay The Course

Desktop environments are clamoring over the idea of touch and are completely redesigning their desktop environments to suit this brave new world.  Gnome 3 is a drastic departure from the 2.x series, and even though it’s starting to gain mind-share with Gnome 3.4, it still fails as a mechanism to manage windows with.  This is where KDE really shines.  It has all the icing of a modern desktop environment, but can act like a more contemporary, standard one.

Some of you may call KDE a Windows-clone.  This is fine, and maybe it is to some degree, but there is one fact that might be hard for you to deny.  Microsoft was really on to something when they designed the taskbar and the start button.  This tried and true panel is extremely efficient for the desktop user and has yet to be surpassed by anything.  Even Mac OS X can get a little hard to handle once you have several programs running.  The Plasma iteration of the Kpanel in KDE 4 is still a boon for us who use the computer for productivity.  Let’s be honest, if you spend most of your time in a web-browser and use little to nothing when it comes to offline apps, you really could use any desktop environment.  For me, this is impossible.

We don’t need any fancy, full-screen launchers.  Of course, if you are looking for a suitable way to interact with your device, you can already try KDE activities!  Plasma-active will soon be a selectable activity in KDE, before 5.0.  So if you need to use it on a tablet, and the traditional desktop paradigm is not working for you, KDE has got you covered.  Working an a small screen, like a netbook?  Switch to the netbook activity, which optimizes the full KDE desktop for your limited device.

So, stay the course KDE.  Cater to everyone with activities and you will never abandon your audience!


Dean Howell

Dean Howell has over a decade of experience with Linux and nearly 2 decades of experience with computers in general. Currently, Dean is Editor-in-chief of The Powerbase and also works for one of the world's largest providers of Linux-based NVRs.

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  • archerb

    Keep your tablet interface off my desktop!!!!!

    Keep your desktop interface off my tablet!!!!!

    Why is this so hard to understand?

    • Tadeas

      Exactly. Plasma Desktop on desktop. Plasma Active on tablet. Plasma Netbook on netbook.

    • http://www.ubuntu.com/ Moraru A. Lilian

      KDE alllows you to decide what you want. May be you have a desktop with touch screen and want to use the Plasma Active(not it is not available to switch like the Netbook version but it will be later), you just switch to it from options. It doesn’t take almost any time, what’s the problem? It gives you options, it’s really good.

      • archerb

        I’ll admit that I am digging KDE the way it’s set up now. On Desktop 1, I have the standard desktop icons found in the ~/Desktop folder.

        On Desktop 2, I have the netbook interface where there items from the menu are located on the desktop.

        The reason this is different than a straight up “touch” interfaces is that I can easily switch by clicking on Desktop 1. Either way, both have the taskbar across the bottom and the K button that has all my apps. Also, both are extremely easy to configure.

        Every day that I use KDE, I like it more and more. I really hope they don’t screw it up.

  • archerb

    “Desktop environments are clamoring over the idea of touch and are completely redesigning their desktop environments to suit this brave new world. ”

    No, they are not. This is why Unity and Gnome3 suck. They are designed for touch and then thrown onto the desktop. Why is it so hard to keep touchscreen interfaces off of devices that use a mouse? No one… AND I MEAN NO ONE likes a tablet interface on a desktop!

    • http://www.facebook.com/apostate9 Rob Holman

      Sing it, Brother/Sister. Seriously. SCREW TOUCH! I don’t want fingerprints on my screen. Touch is for phones. Am I the only one who thought this blog was way off on just about every point? The problem with KDE is not enough things are see-through? Make it more like Unity? WTF?

    • ScionicSpectre

      Sorry, but I, my parents, my family, and my friends love GNOME 3. Most of my designer buddies think it provides a lot over OS X, as well. The only people who seem to have an issue with it are geeks and power-users who always customize things and are never satisfied with how they come. They have abnormally precise requirements of their desktops.

      I’m the same way, but GNOME 3 fits those requirements for me. Also, I’d say you’re right- I wouldn’t use Plasma Active on my desktop, and I wouldn’t use Android or iOS on it, either. But GNOME 3 isn’t a mobile environment. It’s a keyboard/mouse environment that is enabled for touch. Most of the touch features don’t show up unless you’re actually on a device with a touchscreen.

      They’re paying attention. They’re coders and designers- they use it on a daily basis. They wouldn’t make something they couldn’t be productive with. It’s not for everyone, and I don’t think you should use it. But it seems to impress most people and save them time and headaches, making using their computer a bit more natural and ‘made of easy’.

      • Jerry McCarthy

        You’re a hypocrite. You obviously don’t like it but you’re too much of a coward to admit it.

        You state the only people that hate it are geeks and power users then you state that you are one to. Therefore logically, you hate it. So say you do.

        Most everyone is going to Linux Mint and using Mate Desktop. Also the rest are using KDE 3.5.12 on whatever they can find.

        • ScionicSpectre

          First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and think about them yourself. I’d also like to apologize for being unclear- I do find in my personal experience that most people dissatisfied with GNOME 3 to the point that they’ll comment about it on the internet tend to be power users with abnormally precise requirements.

          However, I clearly don’t think that every picky computer user has the same requirements. I should have said that GNOME 3 was the environment that finally fulfilled those needs for me, personally. I’d always been customizing to get something like it, and it came with more goodness than I got even out of my heavy customizations in KDE. And it’s supported, which is great! :D

          Most Linux users I know wouldn’t really identify themselves as such. Novell was based here for a long time, so Linux isn’t really news where I grew up, and when it comes to friends and family they all prefer GNOME 3 to 2. They enjoy the ‘shock’ of a new way of using their computer.

          I think doing something new for the sake of it is foolhardy, of course, but I agree with the logic behind GNOME’s interaction design. Most people I meet do in real life do, too (not representative, clearly).

          I hadn’t heard of this exodus to Mint & Mate, but I have heard of Cinnamon. Still, I’d like to know whatever metric you’ve gathered the term ‘most everyone’ from. I’d also like to thank you for editing your message for clarity.

          • M Obetz

            Except, most of the non power-users I’ve met *don’t* want the ‘shock’ of a new way of using their computer. One of the reasons I think KDE has been performing well so recently is that Windows 7 shares so much with it in terms of UI design that non-computer people can make the switch without having to re-learn how to interact with their computer.

            These new touch-friendly interfaces are definitely worth exploring further, but not at the cost of a traditional layouts. It is very clear that GNOME wishes to phase out their ‘classic’, design, in many places referring to it as “Legacy”. I cannot express how deep a mistake I feel this is, as it creates an incredible barrier to entry for new people who might otherwise make the switch to linux.

          • http://twitter.com/x11tete11x x11tete11x

            for me gnome shell has a lot of unuseful things like the top bar, why it shows the name of app that you focus?, it isnt configurable, extensions are very bad… why i cant choose in what place of panel i wanna put the extension? why i need gnome-tweaker to change gtk themes? why isnt good themes to gtk3 ? why developers dont want gtk3? why now we have a no configurable WM? …

          • Craig Wessel

            Wow! Not only am I STUNNED by your grammar, but also by your enlgish comprehension. You amaze me really. Anyways, it all comes down to preference. Like me! I like GNOME 3. I use Linux mint with gnome 3 instead of cinnamon. And I love every minute of it. Linux Kernel at the base, rock solid, Mint, Rock Solid, GNOME 3, Rock Solid.

            God you know I like GNOME 3. So stop griping, geez.

          • Craig Wessel

            Thank you SO MUCH! GNOME 3 is perfect for me as well! I don’t get why everyone hates it so much! I have set GNOME 3 in front of LOTS of people and they all say, “This is so much easier and cleaner and crisper than Windows 8′s Beta’s were!”

  • Jacob Faraday

    Brave new world of touch!? Ever try the windows 8 consumer test? If KDE actually made a tablet interface their standard for KDE5 with no option of using the older more effective interface, I would use LXDE, XFCE, or heck, make my own interface with a window manager, pypanel and conky!

    The simple fact is that desktops are not tablets. I cant explain this any further. KDE developers have come way too far with KDE4 to throw everything down the toilet to jump on the bandwagon with gnome, canonical and windows.

  • Micheelsen

    I would love to be able to raise the menu with a single press on the win-button (meta). Its possible and convenient in windows. Why not in KDE?
    It used to be possible but disappeared in KDE 3 (I think). Why?

    • minnesota linux

      Right-click on the KMenu, select “Application Launcher Settings”, go to the Keyboard Shortcut option, and set a shortcut.

      • Micheelsen

        Sorry, but that doesn’t work. In KDE meta only works as a modifier. I cannot define meta to do anything unless it is combined with another key. In lack of a better alternative I have defined the combination to be meta+<
        Well, its better than using the mouse but not good enough

        • Luticus

          This will fix it for you, works beautifully for me: http://kde-look.org/content/show.php/ksuperkey?content=154569

          I know this is late (a year later) but I saw this and though “maybe it’ll help”.

          • Hans Micheelsen

            Oh, this is good! What a relief!!! I’ve been waiting for this for so long
            Thank you very much, dude!!

  • tanghus

    “With Qt, the KDE team will always be stuck in a world of legacy interaction between the app and the user. In order to move forward, Plasma must finally be fully exploited.”

    Strictly speaking Plasma is also Qt. What you are referring to is QWidget.
    http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-4.8/qwidget.html

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  • minnesota linux

    I’d rather see *more* overlap with the various System Settings, so that there may be a Network section that has IP settings, Wifi settings, and VPN settings, but also under the User section I could find VPN there as well (because as an end user connecting to work, I’m doing user stuff!), and under Hardware I’d have info about printers and displays but also about Wifi settings…

    Basically, with SO MANY options, don’t make me find just ONE PLACE to make a setting; allow me to access that from the *many* places where it might make sense.

    We can manually create this with KCMShell4 if we put each of these into a .desktop launcher item and manually arranged them in a folder at, say, ~/Settings/

    shell$ kcmshell4 –list
    The following modules are available:
    kwincompositing – Configure desktop effects
    display – Display Settings
    autostart – A configuration tool for managing which programs start up with KDE.
    ebrowsing – Configure enhanced browsing
    kcm_phonon – Sound and Video Configuration
    khtml_appearance – Configure how to display web pages
    khtml_behavior – Configure the browser behavior


    That’s something (an alternative Settings screen) that I’ve been working on but I keep getting pulled away…

  • The Beez Speaks

    “Maybe this division makes more sense in German, I’m not sure.”
    Anwendungsoberflacheerscheinungseinstellungen. Arbeitsplatzoberflacheerscheinungseinstellungen. I don’t think so…

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  • Lorne Greene

    Enough with your freaking touch.
    NO ONE is asking for it on the desktop.
    You want it on a tablet? Knock yourself out.

    Thats why KDE ‘gets’ it, desktop, tablets and netbooks are NOT the same thing.

    The whole premise that 4.9 is almost here and 5.0 means trouble ‘because look at what happened last time’. Let’s not rehash things too much but the technical changes back then had to be done. You could patch things up or bring in a whole new infrastructure which will help in the long run. I havent heard any such thing even talked about. Just because x.0 was painful doesnt mean 5.0 will be. There is nothing to support this position except many numerology.

    #3 is pretty useless to me: I hate defaults. I mean most of them but especially Oxygen buttons, hard to see for myself and most seniors… doesnt mean I dont like KDE, its just that the default means nothing, its just one more setting to change, like the wallpaper and icons to make this ‘MY’ desktop, not someone else’s.
    Which I why i always suggest to people to look beyond defaults as they represent only one choice out of many.

    #4 first sentence is the kind of things you read in places where they use ‘blogosphere’ a lot.
    Ive got a 27 inch screen at work, two 24s at home, I dont see any reason on earth why I should start getting tennis elbow like my cousin Mike who has an HP Touchsmart and who slings pictures from side to side on his touch screen when I can move my mouse 2cm and do that and more?
    Its like Ubuntu and their HUD. Why the heck would I want to go back to two hands on the keyboard? How does that even make sense with touch?
    There is a place for touch and some form factors make perfect sense.
    Some dont. Not in front of my 24inch screen or laptop.
    The worst part of technology is having a solution in search of a problem.

    But you do seem to understand that latter down…

    Honestly i have very little wishes for my KDE desktops, I can make them look how I want, and for the most part, they are out of sight, out of mind.
    Do your new defaults and knock yourself out with them as long as I can do what I want and make it look like I want after youve changed things.

    Sure there are small niggling things Id change but none of them are life changers: Id like kpackagekit back instead of the Win98 generation look of Muon but I understand that the diddling of defaults and programs doesnt really change my use. If I want to use LibreOffice, Thunderbird, VLC and Firefox it makes little difference which is the home default browser, world processor or video player (I like Dragon even with the childish name but I have found little reason to switch from VLC apart from a little period around 1.1).
    I wish that sound wasnt such a problem (Pulse oh dios mio) and that JACK wouldnt require a 15yr old whiz kid to get running for most people.
    I wish that dual boots wouldnt still look like some 1991 DOS horror on most distros (shame on Buntu and their famed user friendlyness, always one of the worst dual boots screens).
    I wish that the MOST viewed item on the KDE taskbar, the system tray would FINALLY allow its icons to be made bigger because everything on the damn desktop can be made bigger EXCEPT the damn icons that you watch all the time.

    But thats really nit pickingly petty.

    Its been a blast to have added so many family and friends since KDE 4.3 came out and the best compliment is usually “I totally forget Im using Linux”.

  • minnesota linux

    Here is a list of some tools that I’d like to see in KDE still:
    http://gnuski.blogspot.com/2009/10/kde-4-please-integrate-10.html

    I think it’s great that some of my suggestions seem to have made it into Plasma, such as the multi-monitor tool etc. Still, we can always have more power, right? :D

  • ears

    Kmail, Akonadi, and Nepomuk all working!

  • ScionicSpectre

    To be fair, I use a lot of applications in GNOME 3, and the replacement for the taskbar is the workspaces- that’s why they’re so dynamic and prevalent in GNOME 3. They are quite efficient. Also, the scale effect in the Activities overview has two benefits over a taskbar. First, you can see the window- it’s easier to identify a visual representation than text, and even an icon if you don’t know the application already. I don’t think this is treating me like a child- I think it’s just making things easier to understand. Second benefit is that the click target is much larger and easier to reach, since my mouse is probably already close to the middle of the screen, not an edge (if I’m using the super key to enter this view). Also, it’s nice not having to think about five different ways to get to things, although the traditional Alt+Tab and workspace switching shortcuts are there.

    Unfortunately, you have to configure KDE to use Ctrl+Alt+Down/Up to switch workspaces, and you can’t middle-click the titlebar to ‘drop’ the window down to the bottom of the stack. I will admit, however, that I middle-click the titlebar quite often to sift through applications in GNOME 3- there has been talk of implementing a more obvious way to do this, officially. Also, I won’t deny that scrolling over the background to switch desktops is much easier than a keyboard shortcut or even the snappy GNOME 3 overview.

    All I’m saying is that GNOME 3 isn’t quite so destructive to productivity as people think. Also, for me, the notifications system has become a boon to my productivity, as well as the ‘get all that visual crap out of the way and let me work’ approach. I like that I can easily talk to my clients as I’m working in Blender and Inkscape, without needing to click all over the place and lose my concentration. Just move the mouse down, type, move away. It’s like butter.

    I think many of the good ideas and concepts from GNOME 3 could fit the KDE functionality ethos, and I hope more integration keeps coming to make it truly competitive. KDE was a dream come true to me once, but seeing just how clean and ‘Made of Easy’ something like GNOME 3 can be, it’s hard to switch back for more than a few minutes and not feel cheated. Of course, KDE 4 is still leagues above and Windows in efficiency, layout, consistency, and exceeds OS X in almost every area except layout design. I’d love to see some new HIGs and a serious, structured approach to splitting mobile and desktop apps, while providing recommendations to make it fit KDE. To be honest, the core KDE applications feel pretty inconsistent to me, and they don’t make the mark. The default browser has fallen far behind, KMail just hurts, and Kopete’s becoming more and more irrelevant as Empathy proves what you can really do with chat.

    I want to see KDE shine as it once did, even in comparison to GNOME. And I think it would only take a few small initiatives to make it so.

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  • CyberKiller

    About #2 – the system settings you show were only in kubuntu in one of the last versions of kde3. Search the net for kcontrol or KDE Control Center to see screenshots of how it looked in kde3 (and kde2 before that). Or just look at wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KControl

  • alpha_one_x86

    More performance, less memory, then: Qt5, wayland and profiling.
    Integration of ultracopier into dolphin, and fast sftp browsing is the most needed in my case.

  • Craig Wessel

    If this is what KDE is going to go to… It may be worth checking out. But! Don’t get me wrong here… I still think GNOME Shell is the best Desktop!

  • Craig Wessel

    After seeing GNOME 3.6 I was appalled! It really IS Meant for touch devices. I will be using KDE now. Good day.

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