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Here’s What’s New in KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS

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KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS is due for release next month and will bring a raft of new features and general improvements with it.

Plasma 5.18 features a raft of new features and improvements that make the desktop ‘easier and more fun’

With a beta build now available for testing I figured it was time to recap the key changes included in KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS so that those of you who ride the plasma wave have some idea of what to expect when it arrives.

And do expect a varied set of changes when it does, as there’s lots planned, including notifications that are easier to understand, streamlined organisation of system settings, better integration of GTK applications, and plenty more.

Let’s take a closer look.

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Features

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS is the next long-term support release of this popular desktop environment. It follows on from KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS, which was released back in 2018 and featured in Kubuntu 18.04 LTS.

Developers who’ve been working on the desktop describe this update as being “…easier and more fun, while at the same time allowing you to do more tasks faster.”

Visual Improvements

Remember that new emoji selector we mentioned back in December? That’s included here. While emoji aren’t for everyone, those who do make heavy use of the little glyphs will likely appreciate the ease with which they can now be accessed.

Another change we’ve covered before: the global floating “cashew” icon on the desktop (to open the “desktop toolbox”) is now gone.

GTK apps now look much nicer when running on the Plasma desktop. Apps that make use of Client Side Decoration (CSD; i.e. any modern GTK app) gain window drop shadows and resize grips. GTK application fonts and icons now respect your Plasma settings for improved visual integration.

Notifications

The feel and function of notifications continues to be refined.

The timeout indicator on alerts now surrounds the ‘close’ button, while the ‘File Downloaded’ notification gains drag-ability (so you can quickly access the file without opening the file manager.

Plasma will also display a notification toast of a connected Bluetooth device is running low on power.

Other changes

The search field in KDE Discover, the go-to app store for the Plasma desktop, now gets default keyboard focus when you open it (meaning it’s very easy to open > start typing the name of an app).

The app also boasts various interface and layout tweaks, including improved formatting of comments.

Fractional scaling on X11 should be a little less ‘glitchy’ with this release too.

More KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS changes include:

  • Improved touch-friendliness for Kickoff app launcher
  • System Tray widget for toggling the Night Color feature
  • Circular Application Launcher menu user icon
  • Option to hide the lock screen clock
  • Windy conditions shown in weather widget

Changes from 5.12 are more substantial

Those who upgrade from Plasma 5.12 LTS will, naturally, find that a lot more has change than what’s listed above as there have been several interim releases too, bringing (among other changes):

  • New notification system
  • Web browser Integration
  • Redesigned system settings panels
  • Display Management improvements
  • Flatpak support in Discover
  • Night Color feature
  • Thunderbolt device support

All that plus lots of smaller quality-of-life improvements, bug fixes, and performance tweaks.

Install Plasma 5.18 LTS

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS is due for release early next month so, for now at least, the only way to “get” it is to build it from source or install a bleeding-edge-friendly Linux distro like KDE Neon Unstable Edition.

After release it’s probable that the Kubuntu backports PPA will be updated to make it easy to upgrade to Plasma 5.18 LTS on Ubuntu 19.10 (though not guarantees).

Kubuntu 20.04 LTS will ship KDE Plasma 5.18 by default, and it’s likely that KDE Neon User Edition will get it too.

Status in other distros may vary but I’d imagine rolling release distros like Manjaro and Arch will package it things up pretty soon after release.

Images: KDE

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