Polish, Polish, Polish, 5.5 Edition

With Plasma 5.4.2 out the door, it’s time to look ahead at what Plasma 5.5 will bring to a Desktop near you. Even though we’ve gone mobile, we won’t neglect traditional Desktops. In the upcoming release, I took care of the little things, as well as bringing back specialized tools that haven’t been a priority for the initial releases.

User Switching done right

I could never comprehend why KRunner was responsible for switching between users – KRunner is for running applications, searching your stuff, and doing Maths. We have a gorgeous lock screen with a neat user switcher, so why not use it? That’s what I did.

New user switcher prompt
New user switcher prompt
New user switcher plasmoid
New user switcher plasmoid

The switcher has become more user-friendly by listing the full user name, including its avatar. The interaction pattern (whether to show “New Session” like a user or as a separate button) has not yet been decided upon, however, we still have a month to go till the feature freeze. :)

Another feature you probably know from virtually any other desktop environment out there, is a user switcher in your panel. At a few small Plasma 4 setups I maintain I used the Fast User Switch plasmoid but with Plasma 5 at the doorstep, I needed a solution, and why not just upstream it – I’m planning to make it available in kdeplasma-addons.

Update: The Session Runner is probably not going to go away, so you could still type “SESSIONS” and have it come up, it’s just that there’ll be a less geeky default interface now.

Kolourpicker is back!

In the form of a brand spanking new Color Picker plasmoid. We’ve matured. We’re no longer obsessed with the “k” in everything ;)

Pick a few colors and copy them to the clipboard in the format of your liking
Pick a few colors and copy them to the clipboard in the format of your liking

Place it in your panel, assign a shortcut to it, and off you go. It lets you pick a color from anywhere on the screen and automatically copies its color code to the clipboard in a variety of formats (RGB, Hex, Qt QML rgba, LaTeX).

Copy to clipboard automatically? If so, in what format?
Copy to clipboard automatically? If so, in what format?

Device Auto Mounter returns

Choose which devices to automatically mount and when
Choose which devices to automatically mount and when to do so

One feature that got lost in the kde-runtime split I wasn’t aware had so many users returns: The Solid Device Auto Mounter. It enables you to have certain (or all) external storage devices automatically mounted on login or when plugging them in.


The icon plasmoid, which is what Plasma creates if you drop a file or application onto your Desktop, has become more useful, handling drop events. The Pager also gains drop event support, enabling you to drag windows from your task bar to a different virtual desktop. In addition to that, context menus no longer overlap the panels: when you right-clicked an applet, its menu used to open exactly where you clicked, partially covering the applet (especially in a top panel where you just throw your mouse at the screen edge). The context menu of windows in the task bar is also now aligned with the entry clicked. Lastly, System Tray got its applet shortcut configuration page back.

37 thoughts on “Polish, Polish, Polish, 5.5 Edition”

  1. nice work, i like the colour picker

    please also fix the clipboard (klipper?), it loses the copied text when the program is closed (eg copy a text from firefox, close firefox, the text is not in the clipboard)

    1. That probably means you don’t have a clipboard app running. Which is honestly a retarded way x11/plasma behaves.

      Plasma should imho go and handle the clipboard for a single item, removing the need for an extra clipboard app. I highly doubt that a lot of people actually make use of the clipboard history. I certainly never did.
      Those who cannot live without it could just launch their beloved clipper, but I think the default should be a working clipboard for one item by default without a clipboard app running around.

      1. I use klipper and the clipboard history extensively.

        Mine is set to record the last 1024 entries and I routinely use it to look for stuff I did recently and maybe deleted (mostly code, bits of conversations, UUIDs and URLs).
        It’s great, you just need to remember to copy what you want to save.

        I also use it when I need to copy several small pieces from one place to another.
        Switch to Source Page:
        – Select first fragment I need -> Copy
        – Select second fragment I need -> Copy
        Switch to Destination Page:
        – Paste second fragment
        – Ctrl+Shift+V -> Select first fragment -> Paste

        A system without klipper is krippling to me.

        1. Read my post again: I don’t propose to remove your clipboard altogether. I just think (maybe the usability group should make a survey on that one) that lots of people don’t make use of a clipboard with more than one entry but are still forced to use one if they don’t want it to break whenever an app closes that is a source of a copy.
          I think the rule should be simple by default and advanced if you want it to. (Wasn’t that one of the principles plasma is going for these days?)

      2. I have klipper running indeed, and also the clipper option in plasma 5 (which I guess uses the klipper backend).

        I open kate, copy a text, close kate, if I try to paste it doesn’t paste anything.. but the text it’s in the history

        I’m experiencing this under arch linux :/

        1. Check klipper settings. I think it had some “prevent empty clipboard” checkbox somewhere. Or just experiment with some of its options. I think it has to do with selecting text that empties the clipboard.

      3. I wish the klipper wasn’t an app like it is running in the bg all the time.
        I think it would be better is a plain old file, last line =’s the last thing in the buffer.
        The only issue I can think of is handling file’s.

        At least there should be an option to hide it from the taskbar tray thing, and a way to parse it’s history (at least) from the cmd line somehow, dbus or whatever.

        I’m sick of it running all the time.
        If you get rid of it, any app you copy from needs to stay open, in order to copy it.
        If you close the app after copying something, the system forgets without klipper running.

        When trying to make linux/kde more usable for day to day use, making it look right and all, klipper kind of ruins it.

        Anyways there’s alot more polish to be had in kde5…
        I have the latest kubuntu installed, just haven’t updated it in a week or so though.
        Buggy as heck with the window decorations, used to flip out on window rules, the new task switch with alt tab pisses me off to no end when trying to work…
        No ffmpegthumb support in dolphin yet, which was one of the main things that helped kde keep it’s top place as a desktop ui.
        The alt program menu, whaetver it was, kicker, or whatever..
        Seperators were finally put in on the main menu, but apps themselves still don’t show up, only folders then apps…
        The icon/quick apps whatever on the side of that menu aren’t customizable, what appears is what you get, I’de rather not have any then in that case.
        Taskbar, when set vertical, the tasbar entry border things are to tall, it’s like a rectangle instead of a box…

    2. This is a security measure of Firefox and has nothing to do with klipper. I remember I read that somewhere.

  2. when you like the new Widgets maybe you like the new Widget Explorer layout too.

  3. The 5.x series is currently rather bad wrt vertical panels. The bugs I follow aren’t being touched either.
    The global menu features are completely gone as well.

    Do you know if anybody is looking at those issues?

  4. Would be nice if you could revise system tray icons: notifications, clipboard and device notifier are completely pointless to have as systray icons if they don’t have any content yet. They should therefore be hidden in that state. And I don’t mean hide behind a show all icons thing like now, but actually make the icon disappear. That would make the “always show all icons” feature useful without pointless noise icons in there.

    1. yeah, especially this sound-icon thing. its always there and doing nothing but showing the volume of one channel (btw: which channel?). there are no possibilities to use global shortcuts to change volumes or adjust the volume of one program specifically or simply choose the channel. so as a result, i now have 2 symbols there… one unusable (by plasma) and one from kmix.

  5. Hear, Hear for klipper fixes. Just like how the Edit Contents.. keyboard shortcut simply doesn’t work for the clipboard plasmoid which is currently in the panel by default.

  6. Personally I’m awaiting the return of window-tabbing; use that extensively every day at work, especially when running multiple VMs at once for testing our software, and the dropping of this in Plasma 5 is one of the reasons I’ve stuck the desktops around here to Kubuntu 14.04 for the time being (admittedly the other part is just that our servers are also running the LTS release and it’s nice to have a common base; I’d probably still jump to the latest snazziness regardless, though, if it didn’t mean losing a piece of functionality important to my workflow).

    1. Afaik, window tabbing is still available. I guess the breeze window theme doesn’t support it? Switching to oxygen should make it work…

  7. Hi Kai, really cool stuff I made an widget icon for the colorpicker and the user switcher. can you say me the name (org.kde.plasma.xxx) of the user switcher cause the icon name is the widget name.

    1. Cool! Looks like you already found out the id by yourself ;)

      Perhaps you could look into the color picking icon itself? I think a “droplet” isn’t fitting for *picking* a color – I would expect a pipette there or similar.

  8. I’ve some LTSP servers at school, one with 2-300 users. When you develop “login” and “user switch” features you should take care also of these situations, not all KDE is run in a domestic PC with 3-4 users!
    I.e. default login is useless (you can’t type username, and you can’t navigate a so long list of users), also login OMHO must support keyboard only operational (enter username, password, login OR shutdown, all with keyboard).
    In plasma5 I’m testing an alternate login (sorry, I don’t remember it’s name) that worked fine in kde 4 but now you have to use the mouse to set focus to username (at the top you have the language selection, but you can’t move with tab or whatever from that field).
    Thanks a lot

  9. With regards to the user switcher:

    I hope that the grave sddm error won’t be repeated and that you provide a text field for the user name.

    Relying on entries created from /etc/passwd does not work in all setups where you have other sources for users (e.g. LDAP / Active Directories), thus it would be completely unusable in all corporate environments.

    So: if you provide any sort of user management / switching, please always keep in mind that nsswitch does exist and users can come from sources != /etc/passwd, else Plasma will stay unusable in corporate environments and universities / schools relying on such systems. Thanks :)

    1. I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding here: The user switcher just lists active sessions; if you want to log in with a different user that’s not currently logged in, you would choose “New Session” and end up at the login screen.

      And there you would be stuck then, but not in the user switcher. I fear the same about the missing input field, actually, which is one of the reasons I’m still on Plasma 4 at my day job. I’ll pester the login manager maintainer once again. ;)

  10. PLEASE! PLEASE! Port the Global Menu Bar plasmoid. It’s the most missing one for me in the 5.x series. I think many users will be happy if someone does it! :) And nice job at improving the Desktop! :)

  11. Klipper in Plasma 5 sux. I like the KDE4 version more, entries are much more visible and easier to differentiate.

  12. i love plasma 5.4.2 for all changes… but i still waiting for all of tchem. All aplications port to qt5 and more performance to system. But when i tested plasma 5.2 i see more crashes but on 5.4.2 i don’t see anything like crash. I waiting for more news from plasma. And i suport KDE. For me it’s one from most best DE on Linux. And we must only wait for more changes and new things. For this time on my linux i need only app like Photoshop. And it’s all what i need. Thanks :)

  13. like many people Ive gone back to Kubuntu 14.04 because its an LTS and I have no time to deal with the usual bugs and regression that comes with the big change. 7 yrs ago,most sane people just waited out the teething process of KDE4.0 and waited till about KDE4.3 to finally make the move. And history has shown that teh same bugs and regressions are reappearing with the same attitudes from devs towards basic functionalities that impact workflow tremendously (its similar to “these are not the droids you are looking”).

    last I checked the ‘different wallpaper and widgets on virtual desktops’ is still a WONTFIX bug almost a year later.
    the solution given, to use Activities, is not only useless but shows a lack of understanding of how things work and how people use the desktop.
    a vital important part of how people use the desktop isnt put back in because supposedly the new and improved framework is more limited than the last (!). Rule number 1 of the desktop should be, dont change how we work on our computers. Add options all you want but dont take an option thats been around since KDE3 and say “oh yeah, thats not how you are going to work anymore.” Because rule number 2 is the desktop works to fit the users needs, not the other way around.
    So im gonna do like so many users have been doing since they updated to Plasma and got a nasty surprise and sitting the drama out this time too. We got 5 years of LTS to get this fixed, I presume it should be enough time.
    And even the home users Ive switched to Linux (20some in our families) that know nothing about computers that Ive asked if they would like an updated OS with one desktop wallpaper/widgets combo for all virtual desktops said no. the ones that have kids all say that each member of the family has ‘their own’ virtual desktop on the home computer.
    So, no stress. Plenty of time until 2019.

    1. I don’t know a single average user that uses virtual desktops, heck, I don’t even use them myself (I don’t use activities either though) but I see why one would want such a thing. In fact, I looked into making wallpapers per virtual desktop work but didn’t want to hack it into the image wallpaper (easy, I added a QML import to interface with virtual desktops a while ago) but globally like with activities but given I don’t use them, I didn’t want to deduct too much time into that, I’m sorry.

  14. I like the new full-screen application launcher very much.
    It would be nice if the virtual desktop switcher (pager) can be further improved. GNOME 3 provides a more user-friendly example. The user can trigger a shortcut to view a snapshot of all windows in the current desktop (KDE already has it), and in that view, user can switch desktops.

    1. It can mount whatever storage devices your system recognizes. If it doesn’t show up in Device Notifier the auto mounter won’t know it either.

      We’re currently in the process of migrating everything related to user tracking (used documents, applications, etc) to KActivities. KActivities has the ability to clear its entire history as well as for specific applications. It will also gain an “Incognito Mode” soon. See [1] for more information about that.

      [1] http://cukic.co/2015/06/28/private-browsing-mode-for-activities/

  15. LightDM on Kubuntu 14.04 had a guest user that I believe essentially mounted a randomized user name’s home under /tmp, giving each guest a fresh session every time. Is there a way to make a request for this function.

  16. Thanks for the new user switcher widget. It is awesome. I have two more suggestions.

    1. I have 13 characters in my name. It’s too long for limited space on the panel. It would make sense to only show initials. SK would be much better than writing my full name. I could use the login name but that’s printed all lowercase which look out of order. So initials and uppercase the first letter of login are my suggestions.

    2. It would be nice if the Avatar be shown on right side of the name. I use user switcher as the last widget on the panel. For some reason I like seeing something visual objects on both the corners. Previously I have used Kicker on one side and logout widget on other side. Now that your widget includes Leave menu the logout widget is not really required.


    1. Good suggestions. I’ll have a look, it won’t be before 5.6 though as it would introduce new translated strings.

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