When we first saw it demoed on Linux netbooks in 2009, KDE Plasma was looking good. It brought a little sizzle to the desktop which was somewhat lacking in the Ubuntu Netbook Remix at the time. Now, the KDE team is looking to move beyond desktops and notebooks — and it hopes to deliver an exciting, adaptable Plasma experience for tablets, smartphones, set top boxes, and other devices.

And while Linux tablets are the primary target, “[…]stopping there would be a mistake,” states developer Marco Martin. According to Martin, the goal of Plasma Active is “to build both workspaces and applications that can adapt to the whole spectrum of devices,” including those which have yet to be produced. To add support for a new device, a Plasma Active developer would simply need to add a new user interface module tailored to its screen type.

Ostatic’s Susan Linton has spent some hands-on time with Plasma Active, and she was impressed with how well it functioned despite being a very early release. Help files are scarce and there’s plenty of polish needed, but Linton certainly seemed to enjoy the Plasma Active interface. Right now, curious testers can take Plasma Active for a spin on OpenSUSE — though Kubuntu seems like a good possibility later on as well.

via Ostatic

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2 replies on “KDE looks beyond desktops and notebooks with Plasma Active”

  1. This looks extremely impressive. I’m definitely trying this out and will track the projects progress.

  2. How exactly is this looking “beyond desktops and notebooks”?

    Practically speaking, I’m quite sure that Plasma Active has nothing to do with the form-factor of the computer. It’s about increasing the diversity of screen sizes (or more correctly stated, screen resolutions) and supported input devices, for example: finger-only touchscreens, multi-touch trackpads, and active digitizers. ALL of these input devices are already available to desktops and notebooks, so it’s a little weird to say they’re being “looked beyond”. Of course, devices which only offer these types of input hardware will also enjoy the new support, but I don’t think that one implies the other. However, I guess in a world where we confuse the computer usage scenario “tablet” with form factor “slate” it makes “perfect sense” to pretend like the input methods on these “tablets” are exclusively available to them. That’s really bad news for all of the people who have convertible or purely clamshell devices with any kind of digitizer. They’re obviously not able to leverage any of these “tablet” features despite actually being tablets in many cases, not to mention anybody with a desktop who has added a tablet peripheral. Plasma Active can be put on and put to good use on desktops and notebooks and all kinds of other devices too. This is an expansion of possibility for all, not a looking beyond of the core. Enlightenment’s Illume profile is another Linux desktop project towards this end, and having used it on laptops and desktops myself, I guess I’ve made a horrible mistake. Fortunately, I also used it on tablets, so at least I got it right once.

    It’s funny to me that people never cared about features like these until they started buying devices which had limited and impractical designs like touch-screen only input where the primary (and only) display is the primary (and only) input device. The fact is that powerful active, passive, and hybrid digitizer have been available for years that have exposed this (presumably) desirable user experience to most computers. However, even if you’re not using traditional tablet hardware, you can still gain some benefits from software designed to support it. For example, (depending on how it is written) an on-screen keyboard can be a way of circumventing the threat of a security breach via a key-logger installed to capture your keyboard strokes. Moreover, if you have a password or PIN that is short, or if somebody has a pretty good view of your keyboard, then pecking away at an onscreen keyboard with a mouse and cursor can be a good practice for keeping that type of cipher save. When I’m using my laptop in a public space, I almost never enter passwords with my physical keyboard. Instead, I make use of an onscreen keyboard for discretely submitting that information, making it impossible for people to even know that I’m entering in a password let alone what it might be (I also routinely swipe my finger across the fingerprint reader to discourage people from thinking that information on my computer could ever be easily accessed).

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