The best Plasma ever

Importing Vaults

The Audio Volume widget now offers a speaker test that was previously only available in the Multimedia section of System Settings. The Network widget can now be used to set up SSH VPN tunnels again.

At directory and file level, the Plasma Vaults widget is supposed to allow the import of existing vaults with version 5.14; however, this option is currently unavailable in the GUI. To use this option, enter the command from Listing 1 as root at the command line. A graphical wizard will then guide you through the import (Figure  7). In addition, Plasma Vaults now supports an offline mode for handling particularly critical data.

Listing 1

Importing an Existing Vault

 

Figure 7: In the Vaults GUI, a button for importing existing vaults on other computers was obviously forgotten. However, the function is available via a D-Bus string (Listing 1).

A controversial change was reversed in KDE Applications 18.08: The former KWin maintainer Martin Flöser removed the option to start Dolphin, Kate, and other applications as root, because he thought it was too insecure. Users promptly launched protests against this deactivation. With Plasma 5.14, KDE has reverted the change; you can now run KDE apps with administrative rights again.

Kill Window

The System Monitor (aka KSysGuard) has been given a new menu with the latest updates; they can be used to launch further applications.

Under the Tools drop-down menu, you will find – depending on which applications are installed on the system – a selection of related tools. On our test system, these were Filelight, Sweeper, KMag, and Htop in addition to the ubiquitous Konsole. The Kill a Window option lets you kill applications that are no longer responding (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Thanks to a new menu, the System Monitor now serves as a starting point for further actions based on the displayed data.

The Spectacle screenshot tool was also upgraded. It has been given a more logical layout, which is now closer to its predecessor KSnapshot. Thus, the Save as function, which was previously hidden in a submenu, has been given its own button. A new Window Under Cursor capture mode is now available.

The Global Menu (introduced with Plasma 5.9), which you activate via a widget, now can handle GTK+ applications. If you switch from the Kickoff menu to the full-page application overview, you can now view widgets in addition to applications and documents. This view sorts the widgets into categories, providing a good overview (Figure 9).

Figure 9: The full-screen application overview now also provides access to widgets.

Conclusions

Plasma 5.14 runs smoothly, responds quickly to user actions, and saves resources. Overall, the new version is a huge leap in the right direction. However, there is still work to be done in terms of look and functionality. Some windows are too small when they open up in the default setting. For example, the next Plasma version will stretch the KInfoCenter window so that no scrollbars appear.

If you want to use the current Plasma version, but have an LTS distribution that only contains an older Plasma version, Kubuntu offers a Personal Package Archive (PPA). Distributions such as Arch Linux, Manjaro, KDE neon (used here), and KaOS, on the other hand, closely follow KDE development and offer Live images of the Plasma desktop.

To keep up with the latest improvements, follow Nate Graham's blog Adventures in Linux and KDE [6], where Graham, a KDE developer, reveals his co-workers' latest developments every weekend. For example, he has already announced support for the WireGuard VPN client in the Network Manager applet for Plasma 5.15 which was released in mid-February.

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