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KDE Plasma 5.20, news and a bit of criticism

As planned, it is available now KDE Plasma 5.20, a new version of the desktop that is announced as ‘massive’ due to the amount of changes it incorporates; a “new and improved, inside and out” release with “improvements to dozens of components, widgets, and general desktop behavior,” stand out from the KDE project.

Indeed, the new features of KDE Plasma 5.20 are quite a few and some are very interesting, but -after having tested it in KDE neon, where the update is already available- I have to say that there are things that have not satisfied me of the Everything, others I have not found and it is what will happen to many users, because there is what is seen and what is not seen.

So let’s review everything new that KDE Plasma 5.20 brings and comment on it, taking advantage of the fact that I am writing on the same desktop. So do not expect a report to use, but one with criticism and notes – not much, do not be scared – including who is, after all, one more KDE user; to simply read the news are the official release notes, which you can read already translated into Spanish.

KDE Plasma 5.20

Some of the changes in KDE Plasma 5.20 have been known for a long time, from the development versions, and as they say in the official note “they will be obvious as soon as you start the Plasma desktop and its new and attractive background image is displayed on the screen”. I, with all due respect, I have to disagree, and it is that if the wallpaper Plasma 5.19 seemed to me the best they have ever released, my opinion regarding the new one is the opposite.

Of course the wallpaper It can be changed with a couple of clicks, so nothing to quibble about. The same thing happens with new desktop layout, which by default modifies various elements: the task manager becomes the one with only icons and the clock now shows the date, as well as the time. Nothing to object either, except for the fact that these configurations overlap those that already were had.

KDE Plasma 5.20

This is how Plasma 5.20 looks by default

For example, I have had to put the watch back on only the time and not because it bothers me that the date is shown, but because Plasma still has a layout problem with spaces and margins that is given to the elements and does not look good. This is one aspect they should work on: symmetry matters a lot for the end result to be optimal.

We continue with more news: systray changes format and the dropdown now shows the items in a grid, instead of in a list, improving visibility. Likewise, it is now possible to set the size of the icons that are seen in the panel to “small size” (as always) or “scaling to the height of the panel”, which can come in handy depending on which configurations, for example if you uses a Mac-like top panel.

KDE Plasma 5.20

This is what the system tray looks like

Another less noticeable change is that of “on-screen displays”, the indicators that appear when changing brightness, volume, connecting a device, etc .; and the change is that these indicators are now more subtle.

Following with the widgets from the desktop, the notifications are polished a little more – it is one of the elements that has changed the most in the latest versions of the desktop – and a new notification ‘when system is running out of disk spaceeven if your home directory is on another partition. this is interesting because, as the KDE developers point out, it will help to “avoid compromising situations” that can be quite worse than the one mentioned, for example if it affects the root space.

The Device Notifier is renewed and renamed, which becomes Disks and devices, and that in addition to removable devices shows everything that is connected.

As for the desktop as such, another element that has been modified is the launcher KRunner and the novelties include the possibility of changing its position, from the top to the middle of the screen, which memorizes the previously entered text -that is, what appears by default the last thing that was launched- and integration with the KDE browser , Falkon. Nothing very relevant, to tell the truth.

We go through the administration tools and the first one that receives news is the System preferences, which in KDE Plasma 5.20 will highlight previously modified settings so that the user can see at a glance what is the last thing they have been playing. Until now, I have highlighted the modules that would have been used on the home screen, but from now on everything is much clearer, as you can see in the following image.

KDE Plasma 5.20

System preferences now indicate everything that has been modified

The Autostart (autostart), Bluetooth, and User Management sections have been rewritten from scratch and redesigned “following modern user interface standards,” which means they look cleaner and more accessible, but the functionality remains. the same.

This ‘new order’ is noticeable in the system tray sound applet and its corresponding section in the system preferences, since as of this version unused sound devices will not appear by default, eliminating some of the confusion it generated. This change is very welcome and whoever has dealt with it will know it. A new sound balance option has also been added to adjust the volume of each channel.

On the other hand, KDE Plasma 5.20 allows set a load limit below 100% “on laptops that allow it”Which also comes in handy: the most recent tests suggest that batteries respond better when they are operating between 40 and 80 percent of their capacity; And as far as the touch panel is concerned, the options for adjusting the speed of the cursor have been improved.

And here is one of the most interesting new features of this version: the Information Center now has SMART technology support thanks to which it is possible to be warned when a hard disk or an SSD drive is about to fail (this already had GNOME Disks). The option is in the devices section … if you have installed a new utility called Plasma Disks that I couldn’t find in the KDE neon repositories, so …

KDE Plasma 5.20

SMART on Plasma Disks

Another novelty of Plasma 5.20 that is noticeable and should be taken into account is that the function of dragging windows with the cursor While the Alt key was being pressed, it no longer works like that, but has been changed to the Meta key, they say, to avoid conflicts with the keyboard shortcuts of certain productivity applications. And speaking of windows, the ‘mosaic mode’ has been adapted to the keyboard: with the Meta key and the arrow keys you can move a window to the desired margin of those available.

Lastly, this is also an important release where improved Wayland support is concerned. There is still work to be done, but the experience should be better than ever.

So far the highlights of KDE Plasma 5.20. For more information, the official note linked above and not to miss anything at all, the full list of changes. As I have indicated before, KDE Plasma 5.20 is now available in KDE neon, both as an update and through new installation images.

In short, it is a very interesting version, with some buts (as you use it you will notice more and less positive things, such as the rearrangement of the desktop context menu, the new look of the widget of the calendar … things that do not end up looking good, or that is my opinion).

We finish with the presentation video, which shows the main news.