KDE Plasma 5.20 Looks Like an Awesome Update

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KDE developers are promising an ‘absolutely massive’ Plasma 5.20 release next month, so in this post we take a look what makes it such a major upgrade.

With the final stable KDE Plasma 5.20 release date is set for October 13, 2020 the KDE Plasma 5.20 beta is out for testing. It’s this development milestone that gives us our first proper look at what devs have planned for this desktop environment.

Do keep in mind that development is still underway and it’s possible that some of what’s featured here gets held back or tweaked before October.

If a notable change or improvement you know about isn’t in this list then let me know about it in the comments section below and I’ll try to add it in.

KDE Plasma 5.20 Features

KDE Plasma 5.20 screenshot

Three new versions of the Plasma desktop are released each year, each offering more refinement, polish and improvements than the last. KDE Plasma 5.20 will be yet another solid entry in the Plasma 5 series.

We reported earlier in the year that KDE Plasma is switchingto an icon-only taskbar, similar to the one found in recent versions of Windows 10 and Chrome OS.

The digital clock applet nestled in the right-hand corner by default now displays the date by default. You can now middle-click on the Notifications applet or the system tray icon t turn Do Not Disturb mode on or off.

plasma 5.20 icon task manager
KDE Plasma 5.19 vs 5.20

An iconified taskbar isn’t the only noticeable visual change. Plasma 5.20 ships with redesigned on-screen display (OSD) bubbles. These appear when you trigger actions like volume up/down, brightness up/down and have been given a ‘less obtrusive’ makeover.

One notable change laptop users will appreciate is the ability to set a charge limit below 100% to help preserve battery health (where supported).

The System Settings and Info Centre gain new capabilities:

  • See which settings you’ve changed from default values
  • S.M.A.R.T monitoring and notifications
  • Condensed “Shortcuts” panel
  • Touchpad cursor speed can be configured more accurately

Also of note: the Autostart, Bluetooth, and User Manager pages were rewritten from scratch and redesigned to conform to “modern user interface standards”.

Other changes, tweaks, and additions include:

  • New default shortcut for moving and resizing windows
  • GTK headerbar apps now respect titlebar buttons
  • Be notified that your system is about to run out of space
  • KRunner can now made a free-floating window
  • The Device Notifier applet can show all disks, not just removable ones

Rounding out the release is better Wayland support.

Yes, yes: every release says this, but this time the changes should be more pronounced and obvious. For instance, you can now middle-click to paste clipboard contents, mouse and touchpad scroll speed is adjustable, and screen casting works.

The Task Manager shows window thumbnails when hovering over an icon; Wayland crashes no longer takes the whole desktop with it; and Krunner appears where you’d expect it to when using a top panel.

KDE Plasma 5.20 will be based on Qt 5.15 and KDE Frameworks 5.74.

How to Get Plasma 5.20

KDE Plasma 5.20 is still in development but the final, stable release will be available to download as source code from the KDE website in mid October.

KDE Neon will likely make the release available to users as soon as it can, while fans of the Kubuntu Backports PPA could find the release packaged up for Kubuntu 20.10, Qt dependency providing.

For more details check out the KDE blog.