Development on Plasma 6, the next-gen edition of the popular Qt-based desktop environment, has been underway for a while. We’ve had teases, updates, and presentations, but now we have a tangible release to go hands on with.
It’s easy to think of GNOME as the desktop environment most synonymous with desktop Linux distros given the biggest ones ship it (Ubuntu, included). But KDE Plasma is just as popular (not to mention capable). Heck, it even ships on Valve’s hugely popular portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck.
Among user-facing new features in KDE Plasma 6.0 (all present in this alpha):
- Defaults to Wayland
- Floating desktop panel
- Return of the 3D desktop cube effect
- Accent colour tints in app header bars
- Better Flatpak support in Discover
- Double-click default behaviour (plus tap-to-click)
- Redesigned task switcher
- Custom result ordering in KRunner
- Performance and stability improvements
For more details see the Plasma 6 Alpha changelog.
There are also new builds of KDE Gear (a collection of apps designed for/that work well with Plasma) and KDE Frameworks, which provides the building blocks devs use to build apps and enhance the Plasma desktop experience.
Try KDE Plasma 6 Alpha
KDE Plasma 6 has hit alpha, which is awesome, but how do we try it?
The easiest way to to download and install a bleeding-edge Linux distro that already ships KDE Plasma 6 by default, such as KDE neon Unstable. Just keep in mind that everything is alpha quality, so you will encounter bugs, you shouldn’t use it as your main desktop, etc.
Alternatively, assuming you’re skilled enough to do something with it, you can download the KDE Plasma 6 alpha source code. Compile it, read it, just feel smug you have it? Idk…
If alpha-quality isn’t quite for you (wise) look out for the Plasma 6.0 beta release at the end of this month, followed by a second beta closer to Christmas.
Alternatively, the stable release date for KDE Plasma 6.0 is 28 February, 2024. After this date you’ll find the update popping in all manner of distros, though scheduling may mean it lands a little too late to make it in Kubuntu 24.04 LTS, sob.