The KDE team has released KDE Plasma 6, the biggest update to the free and open source desktop environment since Plasma 5 launched nearly ten years ago.

While the team hasn’t been sitting still for ten years, and has issued a number of point releases with updates and new features, Plasma 6 brings some big changes. While the new version looks a lot like earlier versions of Plasma, under the hood it’s using an updated version of the Qt application framework and makes the move from x11 to Wayland for graphics (by default, anyway – users can still use x11 sessions if they prefer).

Those changes should have a big impact on support for newer hardware as well as efficiency, performance, and security. But there are a bunch of other changes that users are more likely to notice, including:

  • Default behavior changes (these can be reverted in System Settings):
    • Select files and folders with a single-click, open them with a double-click
    • Touchpad tap-to-click is enabled by default when using Wayland
    • Default Task Switcher style is Thumbnail Grid
    • Scrolling on the desktop doesn’t switch virtual desktops
  • New multitasking features including combined Overview and Desktop Grid effects that can be navigated with touchpad swipes
    • The classic cube effect has also made a comeback
  • Settings app has been updated to reduce the number of nested pages
  • There’s a new “Ocean” sound theme
  • Partial support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) when using displays and software that supports the feature
  • Color Blindness correction filter support
  • New “Scarlet Tree” default wallpaper, plus the ability to change wallpapers for specific screens or all screens from the System Settings app
  • The panel is now floating by default, but can be configured to remove the padding of a floating panel, or to adjust the position, height, opacity, or to use a new auto-hide mode

The KDE team says the Plasma Search tool is also up to twice as fast when searching recent documents and up to 60% faster when searching for applications. Plasma 6 also brings improved support for unlocking devices with a fingerprint on systems with supported hardware. And the desktop environment comes with updated versions of many key apps.

For example, the Kdenlive video editor now lets you replace the audio or video of a clip in the timeline. This lets you do things like extract the audio and then modify it in another application (for things like volume adjustments, noise reduction, or EQ) and then update the clip in your Kdenlive timeline by replacing the audio without removing the video.

Plasma Mobile 6 has also received some big updates. This mobile interface designed for Linux-based smartphone and tablet operating systems, now has an updated version of the Folio home screen with support for key features including an app drawer, folders, pages, search, widgets, and plenty of customization.

You can find out more about KDE Plasma 6 by reading the release announcement. Or you can take it for a spin by checking out the latest release of the KDE Neon GNU/Linux distribution, which now ships with Plasma 6 by default.

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  1. Okay, so if you maximize a window the panels will move back to the familiar position, so they’re never really taking up more space when floating.
    And they finally fixed how Mallit the on screen keyboard can be pushed off screen by panels on the sides.
    But if you had WINE 9 installed on KDE Neon, you’ll reboot and find none of your panels are showing up and you’ll have to select a different version of libpoppler-glib8 in order to upgrade the plasma-desktop package. This will uninstall WINE. Once you’ve done that and rebooted you can just install “libpoppler-glib8:{i386,amd64}=22.02.0-2ubuntu0.3” again and then re install WINE.

  2. I hate being critical of something that I actually like but it is a bit lame that the Plasma Mobile Ux wants to mimic Android so hard. Why not try to be something different or do something better? I get that you have to have integration with all those android applications, even Microsoft understands this.

    1. Different =/= better. After all that’s how we got iOS trash.

      Also it’s FOSS so just make your own UX :^)

  3. I wonder if the new Plasma6 is as efficient as Gnome. We are waiting for a summary of how much RAM it consumes, what works smoothly and other magical things.

    1. I’m far more interested in the upcoming Pop! Cosmic desktop than in Gnome, Gnome doesn’t care about breaking the extensions I like. Gnome determines what kind of workflow you will adopt. Even Android a phone operating system is more flexible in how you choose to use and interact with your computer. Another example, Budgie has a more interesting Ux than Gnome. It unfortunate that Gnome is the flagship desktop for most of Linux. I’ve tried most the desktops and window managers that Linux has and while Gnome can be ok, it is only when the version of Gnome is held back such that extensions that you rely on don’t break. It is the Gnome way or the highway… might as well use Windows.