KDE Plasma 5.19 desktop screenshot

KDE Plasma 5.19 has been released, serving as the latest stable release of this hugely popular desktop environment and arrives with a modest crop of changes in tow.

In this post I roundup the key features and significant improvements KDE Plasma 5.19 offers. This way those of you who ride the plasma wave will have a much better idea of what to expect when you’re finally able to upgrade to it.

If there’s a notable change or improvement you know of, but which I’ve missed, please do let me know about it in the comments section at the bottom and I’ll add it in!

KDE Plasma 5.19

New Features

KDE Plasma devs say they: “…prioritized making Plasma more consistent, correcting and unifying designs of widgets and desktop elements” this cycle by adding (even) more configuration options.

This approach does mean that Plasma 5.19 doesn’t carry a large number of tentpole changes (i.e., changes you can’t fail to notice). Instead, the release is all about smaller and less obvious changes which, collectively, make the Plasma desktop experience more enjoyable.

For instance, the handy Info Center application now bears more visual relevance to the rest of the Plasma desktop. As a bonus, the tool is able to relay more information about the underlying system, including graphics hardware capabilities.

The KDE Info Center (sic) tool

Major refinements to the look of system tray applets and notifications, a task that’s been a long time coming, also feature. Part of a concerted push to standardise system tray applets Plasma 5.19 boasts a dramatically improved audio widget and a more engaging ‘media playing’ toast.

Ahead of bigger changes to the user/account settings page planned for Plasma 5.20 comes a crop of new photographic user account avatars.

There’s also an assortment of new system monitor widgets (or ‘plasmoids’ in KDE speak) for monitoring CPU, RAM and network usage, perfect for helping you keep an eye on system resource usage.

Revamped desktop widgets

Among the (many) tweaks to system settings pages is aspect ratio information for each available screen resolution; control over Plasma’s animation speed; more granularity over file indexing; and an option to configure mouse/touchpad scroll speed under Plasma on Wayland.

On the subject of Wayland users with 2-in1/convertible devices will be pleased to hear that KDE Plasma 5.19 supports screen rotation for tablets under Wayland.

On the applications front Dolphin (the KDE file manager) gains the ability to quickly move or copy files from one pane in split view to another, while Okular (the KDE file viewer) supports zooming in beyond 1600%!

A new wallpaper is also included. It’s called ‘Flow’. It was originally designed for KDE Plasma 5.16. You can download the image in up to 5K resolution direct from KDE Phabricator.

Getting Plasma 5.19

KDE Plasma 5.19 is available download as source code direct from the KDE website. It’s also available to try as a live image you can download and flash to a USB stick.

KDE Neon is in the process of rebasing onto Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and will (likely) make the release ready to its users as soon as it’s able to.

Finally, there’s the Kubuntu backports PPA. This will allow anyone running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to upgrade to Plasma 5.19 (though at the time of writing it has not yet been updated).

But note that while it is possible to upgrade to Plasma 5.19 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS you should only do so on the understanding that KDE Plasma 5.19 is not a long-term support release and is not backed by the same on-going support as the Plasma 5.18 LTS release available in the main repos.

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