Today KDE releases a feature-packed new version of its desktop user interface, Plasma 5.6.
This release of Plasma brings many improvements to the task manager, KRunner, activities, and Wayland support as well as a much more refined look and feel.
The default Plasma theme, Breeze, now follows the application color scheme allowing for a more personalized experience. A new 'Breeze Light' together with 'Breeze Dark' theme can be used to bring back the previous behavior. Additionally, tooltip animations have become more subtle.
Multitasking has just become easier. The much improved task manager in Plasma 5.6 now displays progress of tasks, such as downloading or copying files.
Moreover, hovering a music or video player shows beautiful album art and media controls, so you never have to leave the application you're currently working with. Our media controller applet that shows up during playback also received some updates, notably support for multiple players running simultaneously.
Not only did we improve interacting with running applications, starting applications gets in your way less, too. Using Jump Lists you can launch an application and jump, hence the name, to a specific task right away. This feature is also present in the application launchers.
There are many refinements to the overall visuals of Plasma in this release. KRunner gained support for drag and drop and lost separator lines to look smoother while icons on the desktop traded the solid label background for a chic drop shadow. Users that place a folder applet in their panel can enjoy improved drag and drop, support for the back button on a mouse as well as choosing between list and icon view. On the more technical side, many small fixes to hi-dpi scaling have found their way into this release.
With Plasma 5.5 for the first time we shipped a Wayland session for you to try out. While we still do not recommend using Wayland as a daily driver, we've made some significant advances:
Window decorations are now supported for Wayland clients giving you a beautiful and unified user experience
Input handling gained all features you've come to know and love from the X11 world, including 'Focus follows mouse', Alt mouse button to move and resize windows, etc
Different keyboard layouts and layout switching
Tech Preview System Integration Themes
We are trailing a tech preview of Breeze themes for Plymouth and Grub, so Plasma can give you a complete system experience from the moment you turn your computer on.
Also previewed in simple systemtray, an experimental systemtray replacement. Plasma Media Center remains in tech preview but work is ongoing for Plasma 5.7.