Feeds

KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer

Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Ooh, shiny - just watch the niggles here and there

As with anything design related, some of the new interface's appeal will depend on your own aesthetic tastes. As someone who thought the Plasma 4 default had pretty much nowhere to go but up, I think that Breeze is a huge improvement.

KDE Plasma 5 lock screen

Revamped: It's an all-new lock screen for KDE Plasma 5

Compared to Plasma 4, Breeze is a giant leap forward, and not just visually, but functionally. The overall UI is greatly simplified – there’s improved spacing between items, making them less jumbled and easier to find and read. Most of the time anyway. Breeze isn't flawless by any means. For example, the window and overlay translucency is nice, until it isn't. Stacked windows and overlays often bleed through whatever is below them and look jumbled and sometimes hard to read.

Among the elements that have been reworked are the Kickoff app launcher, the notifications panel and the lock screen, which now offers time, date, and battery status in addition to the usual session management info.

One thing to note about the revamped version of Kickoff - the search field isn’t visible when the menu launches. To search, you just start typing and a search field appears with your text in it. It's pretty much impossible to discover this feature, making it another example of not-so-great design in Breeze; one that hopefully will be addressed in subsequent releases.

In addition to Kickoff there's also a new, menu-like launcher called Kicker that looks a little more traditional and that makes a good, lightweight alternative if all you want is a fast way to launch applications.

The notification area seems to have dropped its Windows XP-inspired penchant for hyperactively spitting out notifications and alerts. I managed to use Plasma 5 for several hours without a single annoying pop up or alert, a considerable improvement over the last time I fired up KDE.

Caveat emptor - it's still under construction

If you opt to install the current version of Plasma 5, keep in mind that the Breeze theme is a work in progress, not all elements have been updated. Not all icons have been updated for example and some applications look a bit out of place. The version I tested did not, by default, use the new Breeze Window Decorations, though you can enable them in the system settings app.

It will be interesting to see what openSUSE does with the Plasma 5 Desktop. The openSUSE project's highly customized version of KDE has long been one of the nicest default KDE themes available. Hopefully that will continue and even improve with the somewhat nicer base of Plasma 5 to build on.

It's worth noting that seasoned KDE users may want to pass on Plasma 5 and its Breeze theme for a few releases as there are still some features from Plasma 4 still missing. The situation is not as bad as the massive feature abandonment that happened in the move from KDE 3 to KDE 4, and the KDE design team plans to keep refining Breeze, adding back the missing features over the next few releases, but I suggest trying Plasma 5 first to make sure all your must-haves are there before you jump in with both feet.

By some figures KDE is the most widely used Linux desktop in the game. Ubuntu's Unity and Mint's Cinnamon may get more attention, but KDE remains a favorite by any measure and the Plasma 5 desktop shows the project hasn't forsaken the desktop experience in favor of "convergence".

Whether a unified OS across devices is the right strategy remains to be seen, but KDE is at least doing it right thus far, not chasing devices at the expense of the desktop.

With Unity far more focused on devices and Cinnamon without any plans to build a device-friendly version, KDE fills a nice middle ground.

KDE Plasma 5 makes an excellent desktop today and lays the groundwork for KDE to be part of the device-saturated world of tomorrow. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.