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KDE Plasma 6: The Big Release is Here!

KDE Plasma 6, the much-awaited upgrade, is here. Let's take a look at it.

We finally have a major desktop environment (DE) upgrade for 2024 right before GNOME 46 release!

KDE has taken the wraps off Plasma 6 🤩

This release is the successor of the long-running Plasma 5 series that took the DE to new heights.

Let's see what it has to offer.

🆕 KDE Plasma 6: What's New?

kde plasma 6 home screen with the default wallpaper screenshot
KDE Plasma 6 desktop with the new wallpaper

Even though we previously covered what to expect from the Plasma 6 release, it was still a work-in-progress, with changes expected to it.

Here, let me highlight all the best bits of KDE Plasma 6:

  • Wayland by Default + HDR Support
  • User Interface Improvements (many things here!)
  • System settings tweaks
  • Better Discover App
  • New wallpaper, of course!

Wayland by Default + HDR

kde plasma 6 about

For Plasma 6, the X11 session has been demoted to being a second choice and Wayland is now the default session. Users can still switch to the X11 session if they prefer that.

Even though, the developers ran into some issues with NVIDIA compatibility being one of the concerns. The developers are now confident that Wayland is the way to go for Plasma.

We can only know how it works out when more users start using KDE Plasma 6.

Moreover, HDR support is enabled with the Wayland mode. It is a work-in-progress, but you can expect displays to use the HDR mode with an Intel GPU.

In future point releases, you can expect the HDR support to get better.

Other than that, there were fixes for a few issues that caused keyboard shortcuts using the numpad number keys to not register properly on both the Wayland and X11 sessions. The support for display mirroring/reflection is on Wayland as well.

User Interface Improvements

KDE Plasma 6 is a big upgrade. So, you can expect nitty-gritty and noticeable changes across the board.

Allow me to point out the most exciting ones:

kde plasma 6 window swithcer

The overview/task switcher looks neat, with one type of layout by default. Earlier, you could change the way windows were arranged, and it made things messy.

Now, all the windows should be organized in uniformly, not randomly.

Not to forget, the floating panel is now the default, making the KDE Plasma desktop experience stand out. In my opinion, it makes the desktop pop:

Of course, you can disable it, and change it by entering the Edit Mode from the context menu on the home screen:

kde plasma panel setttings screenshot

Next, the cube transition effect when switching desktop makes a return with KDE Plasma 6. You need to manually enable it through the Desktop Effects settings to use it.

As for the rest; dragging and dropping an app or window from the Task Manager to any part of its panel doesn't create a launcher widget anymore.

And, the "Refresh Desktop" is no longer in the context menu, as shown in the screenshot below:

kde plasma 6 no refresh menu

Interestingly, the global “Edit Mode” now has a new “Add Panel” button. So, they've moved things over from the context menu to the above panel.

kde plasma 6 add panel

Unfortunately, the much-awaited (at least for me) support for accent-color-tinted header areas was postponed to Plasma 6.1. It would make it easy to differentiate between active/inactive windows., and I am eagerly awaiting for that soon!

But, wait, an important UX behavior change — you can now select files/folders with a single-click, and a double-click is needed to open them.

System Settings Tweaks

Undoubtedly, the system settings got a mini-revamp to organize things better, and make the options accessible.

You will now find the wallpaper settings available within the system settings:

Next, we finally have support for sound themes. I don't see a way to add custom sounds, but you can select from a couple of available options.

If I missed any custom option here, do let me know in the comments below.

kde plasma 6 sound themes

The default pack is the Ocean Sound theme.

Furthermore, you get fine-grained controls to pick default apps for more types of utilities, including phone numbers, email, PDF, terminal emulator, and others.

The screen locking selection page looks a lot cleaner, too:

kde plasma 6 screen locking

Better Discover App

a screenshot of kde plasma 6 discover app

The Discover app on Plasma also sees an upgrade with improved launch times and a “Newly Published & Recently Updated” section on the homepage when Snap or Flatpak is set as the default app source.

This is meant to improve the overall user experience, and according to one of the developers, it is meant to “make the Linux app ecosystem feel more alive”.

🛠️ Other Changes and Improvements

To wrap up, here are some other notable changes that you shouldn't miss:

  • Little animation when a file is being hovered over a folder (opening the folder).
  • Memory usage has been reduced when screen recording is done using KPipeWire.
  • When changing the volume of a Bluetooth headset, Plasma now shows a proper on-screen display to indicate the change, including the battery status as well.
  • Better compatibility for KWin when used with NVIDIA GPUs for screencasting, screen sharing, and generating thumbnails for windows.
  • Various fixes for KDE Frameworks 5 that sees many components of it being improved.

For more details on improvements to KDE apps and other under-the-hood changes, go through the official release notes.

📥 Download KDE Plasma 6

KDE Plasma 6 will be made available shortly on the official website. For those who can't wait to try it out, you can go for KaOS 2024.01 that features an earlier build of Plasma 6, or you could install KDE Neon too.

Just keep in mind that KDE Neon is not a replacement as a daily driver, only to get your hands on the latest KDE tech faster.

Unfortunately, Kubuntu 24.04 LTS will not be featuring Plasma 6. But, of course, Fedora's Atomic Desktop, Kinioite, is all set to receive it with the release of Fedora 40, but that will take some time.

💬 What do you think of this release? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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