KDE Plasma 5.13 Desktop Screenshot

The KDE Plasma 5.13 release is shaping up to be something rather special.

(Update: it’s out!) KDE Plasma 5.13 is the next major release of the leading Qt/Qml desktop environment. There’s a stack of improvements, UI refinements, and innovative new functionality to look forward to as as part of the update.

In this post we roundup the best KDE Plasma 5.13 features and changes, plus give you all the details on how to upgrade to Plasma 5.13 in Kubuntu and KDE Neon once it is released on June 12, 2018.

KDE Plasma 5.13 is a Big Ol’ Update

If you haven’t tried the Plasma desktop for a while then you are, quite honestly, missing out.

Not the resource hog of the past; KDE Plasma 5 is a relatively lightweight and highly responsive Linux desktop environment that works just as well on low-end devices as it does on high-end, multi-core rigs.

It offers a fluid and feature-packed computing experience that combines a high level of UI polish with a traditional panel-based workflow.

And it’s about to get even better.

1. Better, Faster, Prettier!

Plasma 5.13 fine-tunes startup and optimises memory. These tweaks help Plasma take you from login screen to desktop faster than before, and offer up better runtime performance and lower memory usage once you’re there.

The KWin compositor (analogous to Compiz and Mutter) features improved blur effects and desktop switching transition.

Wowed by the new GNOME lock screens? Then you’ll love the look of the KDE Plasma 5.13 login experience, which features beautiful new lock, unlock and login screens.

kde plasma 5.13 unlock screen

The login, lock and unlock screens use the wallpaper of the newest Plasma release by default. This helps lends a consistency and a familiarity.

The lock screen also uses a fade-to-blur transition to reveal controls. This has the added benefit of letting the “lock” screen effectively work as a pretty screensaver too.

2. Web Browser Integration in Plasma 5.13

‘Plasma Browser Integration’ is (as you can probably guess) a new tool that helps the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome (or Chromium-based) web browsers work better on the Plasma desktop.

For example, you’ll now see download progress bars in the Plasma notification area, and get a native notification when a download completes. Nifty!

If you stream your music or watch videos in the browser you will also appreciate controls to mute, pause and skip videos or music by using the “Media Controls Plasmoid” (which works a lot like the sound menu applet in GNOME and Unity).

Other integrations include being able to send a web link from the browser to your Android phone or tablet via KDE Connect, and quickly launch new browser tabs using KRunner.

If you find the sound of these internet integrations a touch superfluous you’ll be pleased to know they’re not enabled out of the box.

To enable Plasma Browser Integration in Plasma 5.13 you first have to install the relevant browser extension from the Chrome Web Store or the Firefox Add-Ons site first.

3. System Settings Redesigns

KDE is famed for being incredibly customisable but also for being unwieldly. If often feels like there are toggles, switches and buttons to enable yet more toggles, switches and buttons!

Plasma 5.13 brings some order to the confusion by way of a redesigned Settings app.

A review, rejig and revamp of many tools located in System Settings has taken place. KDE’s Kirigami framework has been used to give settings pages a tidy new look — and unlock some new features!

For instance, the Fonts settings panel now shows previews for each sub-pixel anti-aliasing setting, allowing you to decide which effect you want before you apply.

4. Discover an improved Discover

KDE Discover in Plasma 5.13

Discover is the go-to software and add-on installer for the KDE Plasma desktop.

Discover in Plasma 5.13 is vastly improved thanks to the use of Kirigami. App cards are more spacious, you can sort lists, easily navigate category pages, see star ratings in more places, and see app listings with the matching icon from your system icon theme.

If you use Snap apps you’ll gain control of app permissions through the new version of Discover, as well as access to the classic mode flag and support for Snap URLs.

5. Plenty More On Offer Too!

This article has listed a stack of notable changes — but they’re just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

KDE Plasma 5.13 also includes:

  • A new Media Player widget
  • Plasma Calendar plugin for astronomical events, like equinox and solstices
  • “Clear history” button in the notification widget
  • New KRunner plugins to access Konsole profiles and character picker
  • Plasma Vault picks up a new CryFS backend, KDE Connect support, and offline vaults
  • Connecting an external monitor shows a pop-up, so you can configure its position

Upgrade to KDE Plasma 5.13

Kubuntu 16.04 LTS Users

On Kubuntu 18.04 LTS? Good news: you will be able to upgrade to Plasma 5.13 shortly after it is released by adding the Kubuntu Backports PPA to your software sources.

This personal package archive contains the latest release of the KDE Plasma desktop, KDE Frameworks and select KDE apps.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports
sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade -y

Do keep in mind that using this PPA on an LTS release comes with caveats.

Although Kubuntu developers maintain the PPA the packages in this PPA are not supported in the same manner as packages in the repo. New releases of Plasma are tested prior to upload but may introduce bugs.

KDE Neon Users

The KDE Neon developer edition has Plasma 5.13 available for testing ahead of its stable release.

Users of the KDE Neon User Edition will be able to upgrade to Plasma 5.13 shortly after its release.

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