KDE Plasma 5.26 Desktop Environment Enters Public Beta Testing, Here’s What’s New

KDE Plasma 5.26 Beta

The KDE Project released today the beta version of the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.26 desktop environment to give us an early taste of the new features and enhancements expected in the final release next month.

Since this is a big update, you can imagine that KDE Plasma 5.26 is packed with lots of new features, starting with re-bindable mouse buttons for multi-button mice to allow you to assign buttons to keystrokes or keyboard shortcuts, full screen reader support for all Plasma widgets, as well as a new Compact mode for the Kickoff applications menu that lets you see more items.

However, the biggest new feature is Plasma Bigscreen, a user interface for your TV featuring the Aura Browser for navigating the Internet using just the remote control of your TV, as well as Plank Player as the default multimedia player for playing local files.

Plasma Bigscreen – Image credits: KDE Project

KDE Plasma 5.26 brings several Plasma Wayland changes, including the ability to force the Maliit virtual keyboard to appear when in Touch mode, the ability to adjust the input area maps of a graphics tablet to your screen coordinates, and the ability to disable middle-click paste.

Also for the Plasma Wayland session, there’s a fix for a major issue for users of HiDPI displays by implementing two methods of scaling apps to look good, namely via the compositor for uniform scaling with blurriness or via the apps themselves by using pre-existing X11 HiDPI capabilities.

The Plasma Discover graphical package manager received quite some new features too. These include support for displaying content ratings of apps, a new option to let you change the name used for submitting an app review, a new Share button on an app’s details page, the ability to check for free space before updating the system, as well as support for changing the frequency of update notifications.

“And within those frequencies, it’s now less aggressive about notifying you; no longer will you have the experience of updating, rebooting, and then immediately getting a notification about another update! Finally, this frequency UI also controls the frequency of automatic updates, if you’ve got those enabled,” explain the devs.

Among other noteworthy changes, KDE Plasma 5.26 adds the ability to configure the Kickoff applications menu to display text and remove its icon when using a horizontal panel, a new option in the Night Color page to change the day color, support for configuring what happens when you activate a window on another workspace, the ability to set the default paper size when printing, and support for changing the way the system formats addresses, names, and phone numbers.

You’ll also be able to sort minimized tasks in the Task Switcher to be listed after all unminimized tasks, query sensors for your CPUs’ minimum, maximum, and average temperature/frequency in System Monitor and Plasma widgets of the same name, as well as to add a keyboard shortcut for activating the Present Windows effect when showing only the windows from the current app on the current workspace.

KDE Plasma 5.26 also brings initial support for Light and Dark wallpapers, as well as animated images as wallpapers, support for the “Array,” “F5,” and “Fortinet” protocols in the OpenConnect VPN plugin of Plasma Network manager, support for Global Themes to change the order and arrangements of titlebar buttons, and support for a wider range of hardware and firmware in System Settings’ “About This System” page.

Last but not least, the “Formats” and “Languages” pages have been merged in System Settings, the Digital Clock widget now lets you customize the font size, styling, and typeface, and it’s now possible to set an alternate calendar that will be displayed inside the main calendar. For more details, check out the release announcement page for the KDE Plasma 5.26 beta release.

The final KDE Plasma 5.26 release is expected on October 11th, 2022. Until then, you can give it an early try by using the openSUSE Krypton, KDE neon Unstable Edition, or Fedora Rawhide daily ISO images, but please try to keep in mind that this is a pre-release version so don’t install it on your production machine.

Last updated 2 weeks ago