The updated version of the desktop environment KDE Plasma brings, among other things, easier operation, floating control bars and offers pleasing color games. In this way, Plasma 5.25 can adopt the dominant color in the background image as an accent color. For example, if the background is a red sunset, highlighted menu items, folders in the file manager, and some other items will also appear in a shade of red.
Plasma adapts the colors dynamically: if the background image changes, the accent color changes immediately and with it the mood in the program windows. On request, plasma even tints all windows in the accent color. The intensity of this tint can be continuously adjusted in the color settings.
The dominant color in the “Cluster” background image is a shade of red, in which plasma is gently tinting all the windows here. The result is like looking through rose-tinted glasses.
The lock and log-in screens “shake” when you type in an incorrect password. When changing to a different global design, you can now select in detail which components of the design the desktop should adopt. In this way you can only get the symbols from the global theme “Breeze Dark”.
With these settings, Plasma would just inherit the icons from the Dark Breeze global theme.
Floating Control Bars
Other interesting innovations are hidden in the editing mode, which you can call up by right-clicking on a control bar, for example. The latter can be turned into a floating panel there: Previously, control bars were always stuck to one of the edges of the screen. In Plasma 5.25, control bars automatically keep some distance if desired.
This creates the impression of a floating bar that is visually reminiscent of the dock from macOS. As soon as you maximize a window, the panel automatically expands to the edge again. This behavior ensures that the otherwise translucent background does not interfere with concentrated work.
If you activate the “Floating Panel”, the associated control bar keeps a small distance from the edge of the screen.
Also new is the window for “Management of the control bars and workspaces” that can be reached via the edit mode. With its help you can quickly move the contents of an entire desktop to another screen – including the applets, folders and panels.
As soon as you detach the screen from the keyboard on a convertible notebook or fold it 360 degrees behind the keyboard, plasma switches to touch mode. In it, the desktop environment assumes pure touch operation. Plasma 5.25 then automatically enlarges the window bar, the system tray of the panel, the window title bars and the context menus. These adjustments make it easier to hit each element with your fingers. The distance between the symbols in the window bar can now also be increased manually in normal operating mode.
The KDE developers had already introduced the overview effect in the previous version (referred to as an overview in the German localization). Similar to the activities view in the competitor Gnome, the effect provides a clear overview of all open windows. In the upper part of this screen, Plasma 5.25 also presents an input field and thumbnails of all existing workspaces. The global search tool KRunner is hidden behind the input field, so that you can search for files and even start programs directly in the overview. The thumbnails can be used to change the workspace in a flash. In addition, additional virtual desktops can be added or existing ones removed and renamed with just a few mouse clicks.
The key combination Meta and w activates the overview view, which embeds KRunner, among other things.
Furthermore, Plasma 5.25 has learned some useful gestures. If you swipe three fingers across the touchpad, you switch between the virtual workspaces. A four-finger swipe upwards activates the desktop grid, which clearly presents all virtual desktops and their content side by side. If you swipe from the top edge to the middle of a touchscreen, Plasma activates either the overview view, the display with the windows of all workspaces (present window view), the workspace grid or the desktop.
odds and ends
If you have selected a program in Discover, you can use the appropriate links to jump directly to the documentation and the official website. The software management also reveals which resources the corresponding program wants to use. The developers have revised the settings for the KWin scripts, which should make the scripts easier to manage.
The official announcement of Plasma 5.25 clearly presents all major innovations in short videos. All changes and error corrections are also listed in the detailed changelog.
If you want to try out Plasma 5.25, you can use the current KDE Neon. This distribution is created and maintained by the KDE team, based on Ubuntu. Plasma 5.25 is currently included in the “Unstable Edition” which can be downloaded from the KDE website. The corresponding start medium boots directly into a live system in which all new functions can be tested without obligation.
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