February 21, 2020

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Desktop Environment Officially Released

KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS

The KDE Project announced today the general availability of the KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems.

Four months in development, the KDE Plasma 5.18 release is the second LTS (Long Term Support) series of the acclaimed Open Source desktop environment used by numerous GNU/Linux distributions, including Kubuntu, KDE neon, Manjaro, openSUSE, and many others.

It comes two years after KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS, which will no longer receive maintenance updates, with a revamped notification system, Flatpak portal support, a Night Color feature, better integration of GTK apps, browser integration, redesigned system settings pages, support for managing Thunderbolt devices, and display management improvements.

Therefore, those still using the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment on their GNU/Linux distributions are encouraged to upgrade to KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS as soon as the new packages are available in the stable software repositories. KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS will be supported for the next two years, until February 2022.

What’s new in Plasma 5.18

Since the KDE Plasma 5.17 release, KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS introduces several new features and many enhancements. Among these, there’s a new Global Edit mode that replaces the old desktop toolbox to make it easier for users to customize their brand new Plasma desktop environment. It can be activated by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop and selecting the “Customize layout” option.

While it’s optimized for KDE Applications, the KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS desktop environment also comes with great improvements for using GTK apps, especially those with client-side decorations (CSD), allowing them to properly show shadows and resize areas, as well as to inherit the default settings for color scheme, icons, fonts, mouse cursors and more.

The System Settings panel got a lot of attention during this development cycle and it now features an optional User Feedback settings page I talked about earlier this month. This allows users to send feedback to the KDE developers, helping them improve future releases of the Plasma desktop.

“If you do decide to share information about your installation with us, none of the options allows the system to send any kind of personal information. In fact, the Feedback settings slider lets you decide how much you want to share with KDE developers,” said KDE.

Apart from the User Feedback page, System Settings now offers an improved search functionality, redesigned Application Style settings to make it easier to customize your desktop, the ability to tweak the animations of windows, and an improved Global Themes page to help users search for new themes for their Plasma desktop.

The Notifications system has been improved as well to show users when a connected Bluetooth device has low battery and the ability to drag and drop a downloaded file from the notifications area to wherever you want.

Other enhancements include a new system tray widget to more easily enable the Night Color feature, a new Emoji Selector accessible from everywhere using the Meta+. keyboard shortcut, a more compact design for the Audio Volume System widget to more easily select the default audio device, and wind conditions information in the Weather widget.

Last but not least, there’s better support for fractional scaling on X11 with less visual glitches, support for viewing Nvidia GPU stats in the KSysGuard utility, and an improved Plasma Discover graphical package manager that makes it easier to find your favorite apps.

How to get KDE Plasma 5.18

While the KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS desktop has been released today, it’s only available for download as source packages for Linux OS integrators. This means that regular users will need to wait until the Plasma 5.18 packages arrive in the stable software repositories of their favorite GNU/Linux distributions before upgrading.

Some of the first GNU/Linux distributions to offer the KDE Plasma 5.18 desktop in their archives will be KDE neon, Arch Linux, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Kubuntu, and Manjaro. But rest assured that more distros will be getting it in the coming weeks.

Since this is an LTS (Long Term Support) release, it will receive many maintenance updates during the next two years. The first one, Plasma 5.18.1, is currently scheduled for next week on February 18th. Later this month, on February 25th, the Plasma 5.18.2 point release will arrive with more bug fixes.

Source and Images: KDE

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