KDE Plasma 5: Ready or Not Ready for General Use?

January 11, 2008: KDE 4.0 is released unto the free software world, and it so happened to be the glitchiest, buggiest, ugliest, and probably the most unstable version of KDE currently supported at the time.

Seriously, if that does not look ugly to you compared to KDE 3.5 you might need to see your eye doctor.

Many had tried KDE 4 and reverted back to their beloved KDE 3.5 for stability and familiarity. Now fast forward to July 15, 2014: this is when KDE announces the immediate availability of KDE Plasma 5.0. It sports an “updated and modernized, cleaner visual and interactive user experience” as well as “smoother graphics performance thanks to an updated graphics stack”. This time the new KDE release actually gets some fairly positive reviews by Linux users, but it was ultimately decided that it “looks good” but “needs more work”.

Here is an example on what I mean.

Here is an example on what I mean.

Now fast forward to today: the new KDE is currently at version 5.2, and has gotten some bug fixes, new icons, and newly ported KDE software along the way. I personally decided to try it out on my Dell laptop with Arch Linux and so far, the new KDE experience is fabulous!

My current KDE Plasma 5 desktop, minus the panel being on the bottom (It is now on the top.).

Installation on Arch Linux is pretty easy. In the ArchWiki, they recommend installing sddm alongside Plasma 5 for those wanting a display manager with their newly installed DE. When I tried sddm, it already came with a KDE 5 theme, but it is not enabled by default, but the theme can be enabled through the Plasma 5 System Settings. It sorta feels like KDE 4 but with a sleeker interface and less problems, except for one major crashing problem which keeps me from being able to use Plasma 5 as of today: after using Plasma 5 for some time (Say a few minutes.) the desktop locks up and freezes, forcing me to Ctrl+Alt+F2 and “killall xinit” and if sddm is running and I’m not using xinit, then I’m forced to reboot the computer.

Overall, KDE Plasma 5 is a wonderful new desktop environment with a sleek interface and even a new icon theme called “Breeze” which has cool icons for Firefox, Steam, and more! And if it were still working on my computer without locking up and crashing, I wouldn’t be forced to write this post on *cough cough* GNOME 3. So before I wrap up this post and go to bed, here are some pros and cons on KDE Plasma 5:

Pros:

Cool new icon theme with icons for Firefox, Steam, and other programs.

Sleek, simple and customizable interface.

New looks on widgets

sddm is a great display manager

Fixes a lot of the problems that KDE 4 had.

Cons:

In addition to fixing, it also creates problems that were not in KDE 4, like locking up and freezing.

Can’t change Applications Menu button picture (This means you will be forced to stay with the letter “K” as your app menu picture instead of being able to change it, which is a bummer.).

Some applications such as Dolphin are not ported to KDE 5 yet.

Overall, I give this new DE an 8 out of 10, and once the KDE boys fix up the locking up and freezing that has been happening to so many new users, I think that KDE 5 will be ready for general use, and if you are somehow savvy enough to be able to fix that problem, I think KDE 5 will be ready for you to use on your main machine.

UPDATE: Until the freezing bug has been fixed by the KDE team, I have temporarily downgraded to KDE 4.14.6.

I’m Zach, and as always, thank you for reading and have a nice day.

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