KDE Plasma 5.24 is out and (as we’ve come to expect) it is chock full of performance improvements, user interface refinements, and even a few handy new features.

In this post I run through the most notable and noticeable changes shipping in KDE Plasma 5.24, plus tell you how you can try the release out first hand.

While we’re on the subject: if you’re a fan of KDE Plasma and you want to see more coverage of the DE on omg! do let me know in the comments. While Plasma is not a desktop environment I’m super familiar with (thus I don’t know my way around it very well) its ballooning popularity —even the Steam Deck uses it, well kinda— has me intrigued!

Okay, on to what’s new.

KDE Plasma 5.24: Key Changes

The Breeze theme is synonymous with the KDE Plasma desktop and for this release devs say they’ve made a number of tweaks to the stock Breeze theme aimed at making Plasma “even more pleasant to use”, such as changing the focus effect to be easier to see.

But the “big” change for me is that folder icons now respect whatever accent colour you’ve set (or is configured in a colour schemes’ ‘selection’ colour). Related: you can now set a custom accent colour, too.

screenshot of KDE Plasma 5.24 folders with accent colour enabled
Folders now inherit the accent colour

The window effect for opening and closing apps in Plasma 5.24 now use ‘scale’ effect by default rather than the ‘fade’ effect as before. New windows spawn in the center of a screen by default and, rather helpfully, devs had made it possible to assign a keyboard shortcut to move the active window to the center.

The ‘scale’ closing effect

KDE Plasma 5.24 also includes a new Overview effect (press super + w) to access virtual desktops, see KRunner results, and manage open windows, all atop a newly blurred background (which can be disabled):

Overview effect, in effect

You can now right-click on an image file and set it as the wallpaper — I know, revolutionary! 😆It’s always been relatively trivial to change wallpaper in KDE Plasma but this context menu saves time, and is keeping with similar features offered in most other DEs and OSes.

Notifications are an integral part of the modern desktop experience and in KDE Plasma a bunch of tweaks aim to make these toasts both more beautiful and more useful.

For instance, critical notifications now have visual differentiation from regular notifications (i.e. so you notice them); notifications about video files show a thumbnail (just like for image files); and a notification is now always shown when sending or receiving files via Bluetooth.

a screenshot of the kickoff app menu in KDE Plasma 5.24
De-arrowed KickOff app menu

The app launcher in KDE Plasma 5.24 looks nicer now it’s ditched the arrows trailing category names in the left-hand sidebar. While those arrows were functional indicators they were, visually, out of keeping with other areas of the Plasma desktop (and pretty ungainly to gawk at).

Other widget changes include a revamped ‘Plasma Pass’ widget; a ‘configure’ prompt when adding the weather widget for the first time; and fully keyboard navigable Clipboard and Network widgets.

An Improved ‘Discover’ Experience

Discover is more adaptive in Plasma 5.24

On to Discover, KDE Plasma’s go-to software manager. A number of improvements feature here (ahead of redesigns planned for future releases), including an easy way to manage Flatpak repositories, open and install downloaded Flatpaks, and auto-adding Flatpak repositories to the system during install.

The Discover home page adapts to a two-column card view when very large and a bottom-tabbed view when very narrow, while the search feature attempts to help users if nothing is found for their search by asking if they want to search online (i.e. outside of Discover).

The Update page only shows progress bars for in-progress items, now tells you the source of the updates, and gains an option to automatically reboot after applying a set of reboot-required updates.

Other changes

A wealth of Wayland-orientated changes have been wrangled into this release, including a new drawing tablet age in System Settings; support for DRM leasing (useful for VR headsets); support for more tha. 8-bit colour mode; and a working ‘active window’ option in the Spectacle screenshot tool.

Elsewhere, the “minimise all windows” widget now works in Wayland; the virtual keyboard only appears when it’s supposed to; and the default super + tab shortcut can be used to cycle through more than two activities at a time.

Other notable changes in KDE Plasma 5.24:

  • “Picture of the Day” plugin has new source
  • “Configure Display Settings” item in the Desktop context menu
  • Desktop icons can now be made twice as large as before
  • Option to reverse alignment of tasks in Task Manager
  • New inline help feature in KRunner
  • Revamped speaker test sheet in Audio settings page
  • Scale factor listed in Display & Monitor settings page
  • Fingerprint support in the lock screen
  • Window thumbnails on task manager pop up faster
  • App playing audio have volume slider in tool tip
  • Lock screen adds options for Sleep and Hibernate (where supported)
  • Support for the FreeDesktop light/dark color scheme preference
  • Kate replaced with KWrite
  • Middle-clicking on a panel to create a sticky note is gone
  • Plasma no longer accepts new connections after shutdown has started

Do cast your eyes over the full (and I do mean full) change-log for this update for further detail on the changes highlighted in this post, as well as many more.

Getting KDE Plasma 5.24

KDE Plasma 5.24 will land in KDE Neon shortly (the developer edition already has it). Rolling release distros (Arch, Manjaro, et al) will promptly package this update and push it out to their users.

Using Kubuntu? You can look forward to trying KDE Plasma 5.24 (or a later revision) in Kubuntu 22.04 in April, or use the Kubuntu backports PPA which lets you upgrade to Plasma 5.24 on Kubuntu 21.10.

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