The KDE team has announced the availability of a new version of the popular desktop Plasma, which comes with the last name LTS, which means that it has extended support. That is, Plasma 5.18 will be the stable version for the next two years. Of course, it will receive periodic updates to polish and improve its functionalities.
Many of the new features incorporated into this new version have a common goal: improve the user experience. In this regard, a “emoji selector” has been added, very easy to use so that users can copy and paste them anywhere. Also noteworthy is the new “global edit mode”, in which the old desktop toolbox has been deleted. In exchange, there is now a simple global editing bar that provides access to widgets, activities and other desktop configuration options.
The support of GTK applications is another aspect that has been improved. Now they are shown by default with Plasma preferences regarding fonts, icons, mouse cursors..
Also as a novelty, a night mode widget has been introduced, which can be operated with keyboard shortcuts. Thanks to another widget, the volume one, it is now easier to choose the default sound device and there is now a volume indicator for the applications shown in the task manager. Other details that allow Plasma to be more user-friendly are, for example, the improved weather widget settings and the new touch capabilities of the Kickoff app launcher.
In addition to changes at the aesthetic level, the notifications now have new features: they notify when the connected Bluetooth devices are running out of battery and, among other things, allow to drag a downloaded file to the place where you want to store it.
As for system preferences, user comments and suggestions are disabled by default to protect privacy. If the user decides to share information with KDE, in no case personal information will be sent, only those data that allow to improve and adapt the system to the needs of the users.
The desktop customization process has been refined with a redesign of the Application Style settings, which are now displayed with a grid view, which makes it easy to check the way in which applications will be displayed after choosing a new style. This type of preview also applies to the Global Topics.
Plasma visual software manager, Discover, will now allow to easily install, remove and update applications and libraries. When it’s opened, you can search directly for the programs you want to install. In addition to applications, it offers add-ons such as themes, welcome screens... and shows the opinions of other users.
Finally, it should be noted that Plasma's overall performance in graphic hardware has been significantly improved and applications have fewer visual defects when fractional scaling is used in X11. In addition, NVIDIA GPU statistics have been included in KSysGuard.
For more information, see Plasma 5.18 LTS release announcement