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One thing I am excited about when it comes to the Steam Deck is that it has a full desktop Linux mode, which is powered by KDE Plasma and I don't think that's getting the attention it deserves.

Sure, it is primarily a handheld Steam gaming machine. That comes with a lot of excitement due to the power, the form factor, Steam Play Proton being able to play a huge amount of Windows games and much more. Emulation is a big one too, it's likely going to be one of the absolute best portable emulation devices around.

For me though, perhaps just as exciting is the desktop mode. We know the Steam Deck is running a new version of SteamOS, which is based upon Arch Linux with a KDE Plasma desktop mode. Thanks to this, Valve can pull in updates quicker than we would have seen with their older Debian based SteamOS and so upgrades and fixes for the desktop mode can come whenever they're wanted or needed.

The KDE team are obviously keeping a close eye on it too, and the big thing we all know is that having FOSS used in such a huge way like this will end up being a big boon for Plasma. There's nothing like being available on possibly millions of devices to make work progress to make it an ever better experience - one that will ultimately benefit all "normal" desktop Linux users who choose Plasma as their desktop environment.

Pictured - the KDE Plasma desktop.

KDE developer Nate Graham often writes up blog posts going over work done in their "This week in KDE" series who stated in a recent post talking about stability:

This was a major bugfix week, with many important fixes to our core apps as well as the touchscreen experience. More of these are in the pipeline too! We are really trying to improve the stability of our software now that it’s starting to be used in more 3rd-party products like the Steam Deck. The idea is that this will become a virtuous circle of better more stable products leading to more use leading to even better more stable products!

It was a bit of a no-brainer for Valve to go with KDE Plasma too for a number of reasons but I think primarly it comes down to two major points:

  • It looks and feels a lot more like Windows out of the box when compared with GNOME. This is a big point too! There's no argument that Windows is the most-used desktop operating system, anyone saying otherwise is deluded. Having a desktop mode that's closer to it makes sense to ensure users are comfortable and has a better chance of people actually enjoying using it right away. What happens if they enjoy it enough? They might try it out on their actual desktop or laptop.
  • Customization. Valve has a lot more to play with here and a fair bit more control, which links in with them dumping Debian for Arch Linux. While GNOME can be tweaked with extensions, they break often and GNOME consider extensions a "niche" thing so it's not really a good fit for Valve if GNOME will just break them and not really care much.

The future for KDE Plasma is an incredibly bright one.

I'll leave you with a recent joke advert the KDE team recently came up with. On Twitter they said "What would advertisements for different KDE apps look like? KDE Gear ⚙️ 21.08, an update to many of KDE's applications, comes out on Thursday, and we decided to give it a go."

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43 comments
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CatKiller 10 Aug
Quoting: NeverthelessI would be maybe.. but somehow I have the feeling KDE and Nvidia aren't friends...
Even the installation of Fedora KDE crashes all the time for me.
KDE on Nvidia's been perfectly fine for me since I started using it ~three years ago.
Spyker 10 Aug
Quoting: Nevertheless
Quoting: BielFPsI'm not a kde user, but I am a fan of some of their software like Krita and Kdenlive, so I'm happy that their efforts are being recognized and hope that those improves include their wayland compositor too.

I would be maybe.. but somehow I have the feeling KDE and Nvidia aren't friends...
Even the installation of Fedora KDE crashes all the time for me.

I tried KDE Plasma on Fedora 34 recently and it seems to work well.
I had 2 issues though:
- I don't know why but the Discord app keeps crashing when launched on Plasma (the same app is perfectly stable on Gnome), it may be a flatpak issue though.
- I have 2 screens and my wallpaper has the resolution of my 2 screens combined. I didn't find the option to span the wallpaper on the 2 screens at once.
const 10 Aug
Quoting: omer666I've been using both KDE and GNOME and I like them both, however I prefer the GNOME workflow.
Nevertheless we can only rejoice when a project such as a complete open source desktop environment gets backed by a company such as Valve, because everyone will benefit from it.

I very much prefer my Frankenstein Gnome/Xfce setup to KDE, yet I think KDE was a good choice. KDE has done work toward touchscreen usage for a long time already, gnome has more or less just started. KDE are pretty open to changes and optional features from external entities, gnome really only knows those damn javascript/dbus desktop extensions and is notoriously breaking their javascript/dbus API again and again... With each gnome update I pray that those extensions that make the system shine for me will continue to work of be fixed in the next weeks...
In KDE, Valve have a much bigger chance to get their contributions upstreamed and that's where we want them.


Last edited by const on 10 August 2021 at 1:32 pm UTC
junibegood 10 Aug
I installed a distribution with KDE Plasma (Netrunner) on a brand new laptop a few months ago. It was a very good desktop experience, but even with all effects turned off and tlp installed, it was a huge battery sink and I had to switch to something else. Now with LMCE, my battery lasts 3 times more.

I can't tell how much of this issue was directly related to KDE or was caused by this specific distribution, because I changed both at the same time. But in any case, the amount of features in KDE Plasma must have a cost in ressources, even if it's very well optimized. This should be a concern for a handheld device like the Steam Deck.
const 10 Aug
Quoting: junibegoodI installed a distribution with KDE Plasma (Netrunner) on a brand new laptop a few months ago. It was a very good desktop experience, but even with all effects turned off and tlp installed, it was a huge battery sink and I had to switch to something else. Now with LMCE, my battery lasts 3 times more.

I can't tell how much of this issue was directly related to KDE or was caused by this specific distribution, because I changed both at the same time. But in any case, the amount of features in KDE Plasma must have a cost in ressources, even if it's very well optimized. This should be a concern for a handheld device like the Steam Deck.
I'm sure that if these battery killers exist in KDE base, the SteamDeck is the best chance to get them fixed.


Last edited by const on 10 August 2021 at 1:29 pm UTC
KohlyKohl 10 Aug
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Quoting: kalinI have been hate gnome forever but it works far better compared to kde in my experience.
With kde I always have crashes for random components all the time. When I get amd gpu (2023) I can try kde again
hopefully they learn how to write stable software till then

I can't remember the last time something in the KDE stack crashed on me. I even use NVidia and I still have no issues on several computers.
spjoe 10 Aug
I have arch + KDE plasma since forever as my daily driver (maybe since 5 years). For me it is the best experience on linux. But it has issues and that are bugs. If you poke KDE a bit it breaks quite easily.

For the daily work the worst enemies are:
  • wake-up after standby (have to restart plasmashell and sometimes kwin)

  • multi monitor setups, especially dynamic multi monitor setups



I think both of these issues have a good chance to get fixed. I guess steam deck will support standby and as far as I understood the steam deck support plugging into a external monitor.

I hope stabilizing KDE is really now there first priority.
pb 10 Aug
I switched away from KDE when they moved from a near-perfect KDE3 to a total-mess KDE4. Stayed with Gnome2 for a while but since it was destined to die, I moved to XFCE and am still using it. However nothing beats Konsole. I spend maybe half of my time in the terminal so it's a must.
Quoting: CatKiller
Quoting: NeverthelessI would be maybe.. but somehow I have the feeling KDE and Nvidia aren't friends...
Even the installation of Fedora KDE crashes all the time for me.
KDE on Nvidia's been perfectly fine for me since I started using it ~three years ago.

Interesting! Maybe I should try Kubunto, or Manjaro..
Quoting: Spyker
Quoting: Nevertheless
Quoting: BielFPsI'm not a kde user, but I am a fan of some of their software like Krita and Kdenlive, so I'm happy that their efforts are being recognized and hope that those improves include their wayland compositor too.

I would be maybe.. but somehow I have the feeling KDE and Nvidia aren't friends...
Even the installation of Fedora KDE crashes all the time for me.

I tried KDE Plasma on Fedora 34 recently and it seems to work well.
I had 2 issues though:
- I don't know why but the Discord app keeps crashing when launched on Plasma (the same app is perfectly stable on Gnome), it may be a flatpak issue though.
- I have 2 screens and my wallpaper has the resolution of my 2 screens combined. I didn't find the option to span the wallpaper on the 2 screens at once.

I got it to install finally by using the fallback mode but the installed system wasn't stable when I installed proprietary drivers, so I deleted it.
I only do this out of interest anyway, to see what's out there. Maybe I find something that's as reliable and as stable as Mint one day, and that adds something else, that Mint lacks.


Last edited by Nevertheless on 10 August 2021 at 3:29 pm UTC
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