I'm back

Yes, I know, 11 months it's quite some time, but my computer died, I swear it!.

*The Plasma version used for this overview is 4.1.72 (4.2)*


In KDE 3.5.x we had kicker, but for KDE 4, it has been killed and replaced by the most famous part of the KDE technologies, known as Plasma.

Before introducing some of it's features, I will explain what Plasma is, fast, without entering in detail.

Plasma is, among other things, the new way of building your desktop, it works using Plasmoids, those Plasmoids are similar to Gadgets or Widgets. Plasmoids are contained by... well... containments, this relantionship it's the secret of its flexibility. The Desktop (image background) is a containment, you can put as many plasmoids as you want, those can create a normal interface showing your /desktop files, or you can put clocks, stocks viewers, media controls, pictures, etc. However, the panel is a cointenment too, you can place your Plasmoids in your desktop or in the panel, Plasmoids will change their layout to match correctly their new containment.

The biggest point here, is that cointenments are Plasmoids too, so, in the future, people (or KDE developers themself) can (and certainly will) create new containments, of all kinds. Making a OS X dock or a Windows 7 like taskbar shouldn't be that hard.

The desktop

Having said that, lets go to what you're really interested in, pretty screenshots!:

This is my current desktop (yes, it's gorgeous), it's pretty clean and simple, however, there are several Plasmoid running there, clock (2 actually), weather, command line, folder view, menu, pager, windows list, device notifier, systray and those are pretty much all :)

But if you want a completely different desktop layout you can have it without any problem, go to the corner, click and select:

Then, do the impossible, drag and drop :)

You could end with completely different interfaces:

But, Do you remember what I said at the beginning? The desktop is a plasmoid containment, so, why can't I have two desktop containments? Ehm, you can!

Click and zoom out:

Then add as many as you want ;)


As you could see in those last 2 screenshots, Plasmoids are resizable and you can rotate them too, as well as configuring and removing them, how to? Easy, just hover while the plasmoids are unlocked:

And then, make some clicks and mouse movements, extremely easy, and since everything is svg, don't worry about getting pixelated plasmoids ;)

KDE has a beautiful dashboard too:

Plasma is also 100% themeable, and there are all of kind of themes, it will be pointless to post all of them, but you can find them here.

And that isn't all, Plasma is compatible with many OS X dashboard and Google Gadgets, the last one is quite new, so I don't have it on my system, but here you can see how you can add Dashboard widgets:

Plasma customization options

Do you like my theme? Well, there's the new "Get Hot New Stuff" (basely everywhere around KDE):

And you can mix different plasma themes to match your taste :)

The Panel

This is the new shiny kicker (which is obviously a Plasmoid containment)

It was criticized at the beginning of KDE 4 series that you couldn't even resize it, now it has a pretty straight forward way of doing it, mixed with some extra option related with size and position, as you would note the icon plasma configuration button is in the panel too, this is only visible when plasmoids are unlocked :

Then you have other requested features, special mention to autohide:

The best part is that now you can drag and drop plasmoids between the panel and the desktop, and they will take their right form an size, and, as you can see, its using true transparency.


The controversial default menu of KDE 4 series, I personally like it, for those who don't, the classic menu is still there. Let's see how it looks:

As you can see it shares the plasma theme, in the past, it looked like a Windows, quite out of place, and it's fully resizeable now

You have 5 self-explanatory tabs, they can switch on hover (my prefer mode) or on click:

Beyond the Desktop

But plasma is extensible, now it displays notifications, no more uggly KDE 3.5.x pop-ups, yeah!:

Tooltips are also gorgeous, by the way, if you're wondering, the theme I use is called Arezzo (but the following tooltip is from Elegance):


Fully plasma themed of course, it runs inside it own process, outside of plasma, so if plasma crashes you can still run commands, or bring plasma back itself. It has two view modes:

Task oriented (quicksand)

Command oriented

I personally prefer the default one (command oriented), both of them extend depending on the content, it integrates, for example, seamless with nepomuk (description you add to your files trough dolphin)

Krunner is extremely powerful, I will give its own overview, stay tuned.

That's all I can think off today, that said,there are, in my personal opinion, two Plasmoids which worth their own part.

1... no wait, 2 more things

Web Browser Plasmoid

It use webkit as a backend, it isn't the fastest web browser ever, but it's quite good anyway, you can zoom in/out text, reload, go back and forward.

It even has bookmarks:

Previewer Plasmoid

You can add it to your desktop and then drop files in order to preview them, as you can see, you can browse recent previewed files:

However, the best part is that is integrated in the file manager as an action (as somebody mentioned it was too time consuming to get to the action, let me add that it has its own keystroke: ctrl + delete, and you can customize it, I use a 2 spaces keystroke):

And then you get this, it's extremely fast and good looking:

See you later in the next issue, I swear you it will be in less than 1 year :)

Coming up next: Amarok 2
Stay Tuned


KDE4.DE said...

Hi there,

nice to see you and your work back online.
greets from germany blendo from www.kde4.de

Jit said...

Very nice review. Seems like I will go KDE with Fedora 10 release.

Anonymous said...

Another good alternative to default Kickoff menu is lancelot -- available on most distributions as a plasmoid.

In fact, lancelot appears more functional than Kickoff, IMHO.

Paul Weiss said...

I just tried KDE 4.1 and there were actually no bugs found by me. Earlier versions were notoriously plagued with critical bugs. KDE is now in the position to take on Gnome.

Unknown said...

Wow this definitely looks awesome. Ubuntu should use this as the default desktop, then Linux would be at a much better position to become more attractive than Mac OS X.

Unknown said...

nice review, mind sharing the wallpaper used here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_qapdbswj4rA/SRtDXy0gTBI/AAAAAAAAAGY/gXDkA0dsX-c/s1600-h/mydesktop.jpeg ?

Gerardo said...

¡Buen trabajo amigo! Me gustan mucho tus "screenshots" maravillosos. Espero con ilusión a KDE4. ¡Saludos de Alemania!

Luis Augusto said...

Muchas gracias y felicidades por tu buen español!

Red said...

i really hope they'll fix the widget themes. it's very ugly. Gnome's are way better and they're working on new themes(especially dark) on their next release.. it's the only thing that's holding me back from using KDE4. please fix the firefox too.. it's so awful too look at..

Luis Augusto said...

You meant the Plasma theme? It's completely configurable. If you mean the Oxygen Style, you can make it dark with 2 clicks XD. Plus gnome themes has always seem to be poor in comparative (plain and cartoonish).

Anonymous said...


Do you know how could I remove the plasma buttom of the top-right corner of my dektop? How to get a simple menu (not that windows-like lancelot) that u can trigger by pressing a keyboard shortcut?

I dont want panels and dont want buttons, I want shortcuts! I hate clicking with the mouse in places (it is very slow and bad for ur eyes) or putting stuff on the desktop (it is a working place, I want it empty!)

I really feel less free with the new plasma/kde4, visually is nicer, true, but that is it. I think that KDE users would rather have more freedom than more nice gadgets. For that they can choose Mc or Windows.

Sorry for writing so much.


Anonymous said...

There's a translucent window on all desktops, showing files in ~/Desktop. Can I make it go away and come back? Can I limit it to one of my 4 workspaces? Can I make one like it for other directories? Is it meant to be a mini-filemanager? Why is it there?

Can I distinguish my 4 workspaces with different wallpapers? I can do that in KDE3.5. And how do I replace the big, ugly, Kickoff menu with the classic?

KDE4 seriously needs some better documentation/explanation.

Luis Augusto said...

You can do every single thing you are bitching for without any effort. Just two, maximum three clicks, per feature.

Changing kick-off needs docs? Come on boy, if you're going to troll try harder (right click on the menu, select classic).

matthis said...

I still don't see how to change the size of the Kickoff menu. Just as in your picture (the application tab of Kickoff), I would only need 1 cm more height in order to fit all applications on the tab without the need for a scrollbar. But even after half an hour of searching the internet and various blogs I don't get it. Sorry.