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KDE's Plasma 5.4: The most advanced and beautiful Linux desktop

Swapnil Bhartiya | Aug. 27, 2015
Plasma 5.4 brings some of the much-awaited improvements to the KDE’s desktop environment.

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Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya

There is something interesting going on desktop computers -- the UI is becoming heavily influenced by mobile operating systems. From Windows to Gnome you can see heavy influence of mobile OSes. KDE's Plasma desktop, which I consider to be the most advanced desktop environment is, however, an exception. The KDE community just released Plasma 5.4, a major update to their desktop environment and it continues to shows the prowess of this ‘leaderless’ community.

What I love about Plasma

I am a Plasma user running it on Arch Linux, and there is a reason why I love Plasma over other desktop environments: It has the best file manager, even better than those found Mac OS X and Windows.

I also like the enhanced search capabilities of Plasma desktop, which is now powered by Baloo instead of Nepomuk, which was slow, buggy, and generally hated. On Plasma (I am not sure if Gnome or other DEs could do that) I can search for any word in a document and Plasma will pull out that file for me. It scans every word of my documents. The only condition is that the file must have appropriate extension.

I use multiple monitors and with Plasma I can treat each monitor as an independent screen. I can add panels, widgets, background and even set different time zones for clocks on each monitor.

What I don't like about Plasma

Nothing is perfect and Plasma is no exception. I would like to see Kmail get some developer love and become much easier to use. It's far too complicated to get started with Kmail. Another thing that I dislike in Plasma is lack of integration within different components, unlike Gnome where setting up mail, calendar, contact, instant messaging is a breeze.

Now what's new in 5.4?

The greatest addition to Plasma desktop is the arrival of Application Dashboard launcher. I was a huge fan of Homerun launcher and used it as the default launcher, so the Application Dashboard is all I needed.

After using it I actually like it much more than Ubuntu Dash and Gnome. I find it much more organized, clearer, clutter free and focused on increasing productivity instead of cramming unwanted ads in that tight space (I am looking at you, Ubuntu).

Plasma has refined search capabilities. Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya

Application Dashboard basically has five components:

  • A search bar that allows you to simply run a search for what you are looking for and be done with it. As I said before, it's a powerful search. I just searched for the term 'i tried' and Plasma pulled out the novel I am working on and other documents that contained the searched term.


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