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KDE developer suggests Plasma needs to be simpler by default

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KDE developer Nate Graham, the same person who recently said they may become the "Windows or Android" of the FOSS world is back again with more thoughts - this time about keeping it simple.

The Plasma desktop is pretty darn powerful, that's for sure and it has a massive amount of customization options for practically every little thing. For many people this is great, however it can also have a detrimental affect on the experience by new users and users less comfortable with computing. So what's the answer? Graham thinks they need to keep things simpler out of the box.

KDE Plasma Screenshot
Pictured - KDE Plasma on my own desktop.

What this doesn't mean is Plasma is going to get "dumbed-down". Sounds like they're not going to be targetting people in the lowest category of computing skill with their thinking. Noting that they would likely never be happy with KDE and that "GNOME and ElementaryOS can have those users".

Instead, the plan sounds like it's more a case of ensuring every part of Plasma comes with sane defaults "Essentially we need to fully embrace Plasma's motto of 'Simple by default, powerful when needed' [for] all KDE software, not just Plasma".

As an ending note, Graham mentions how some of this is already happening like "our simple-by-default Kirigami apps gaining power and customization opportunities, and our powerful-by-default QtWidgets apps gaining better default settings and a streamlined appearance".

What are your thoughts?

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LibertyPaulM 30 Nov, 2021
He's right. An abundance of customisation options are great for tinkers, but tinkerers are a minority of technology users, and that abundance of customisation options that is so great for tinkers increases the likelihood of user caused instabilities.
devland 30 Nov, 2021
I trust KDE. They deliver a strong yet friendly DE. Having better default settings fixes the complexity problem while also allowing power users to customize whatever they want. This has been happening for some time now as I've been on KDE for a few years. They don't always get it right the first time but it's going in the right direction in the long run.

Last edited by devland on 30 November 2021 at 4:06 pm UTC
Mohandevir 30 Nov, 2021
Quoting: Liam DaweWhat this doesn't mean is Plasma is going to get "dumbed-down"

Are you talking to me?

Seriously, I was referring to SteamOS "custom KDE interface", from what I read, that might be dumbed-down (really look forward to see what Valve means by "custom KDE"). I don't expect stock KDE to be "dumbed-down", but sane defaults can't be a bad thing. I even proposed the idea of a "dumbed-down" fork of KDE, in the other thread:

Last edited by Mohandevir on 30 November 2021 at 4:23 pm UTC
Kallestofeles 30 Nov, 2021
Maybe one day, in a perfect world, KDE would finally become stable enough to daily drive it. But I guess that's besides the point.
Eike 30 Nov, 2021
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Quoting: KallestofelesMaybe one day, in a perfect world, KDE would finally become stable enough to daily drive it. But I guess that's besides the point.

Running it daily for many, many years.
Don't know what you're talking about.
dibz 30 Nov, 2021
I don't know. I always find these kinds of (proposed) changes frustrating to say the least. All too often instead of better defaults and better UX, you get the often-increasing mentality of "less options and heavy-handed". Or as I like to call it, high-resolution whitespace.

OR, it can also mean burying options under many sub menus which is the opposite of better UX -- you trade some things being frustrating with everything being mildly frustrating when you do that.

Unfortunately both of these methods, with the first being the more popular of the two, are becoming increasingly popular -- especially among younger developers I've noticed. Better UX is always a good thing, but I remain skeptical as often times these kinds of moves can be... the opposite of that.
ssj17vegeta 30 Nov, 2021
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: KallestofelesMaybe one day, in a perfect world, KDE would finally become stable enough to daily drive it. But I guess that's besides the point.

Running it daily for many, many years.
Don't know what you're talking about.

Although I too have used KDE for like five years now without looking back, it is far more unstable than other DEs. I have installed it on three different machines (Kubuntu), and I still get frequent crashes with Dolphin, the plasma dashboards or even sometimes software I didn't even know were running (like the Bluetooth applet which I since deactivated). I never had such issues with Mateo or LXDE.

I'm not complaining though, the overall experience is really good and KDE really suits my tastes ! But still, yes, I wouldn't call it "perfectly stable". Or is it my distro (Kubuntu) ?
CatKiller 30 Nov, 2021
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The part of KDE's UI guidelines that I disagree with in practice (although not necessarily in principle) is that an option is only worth having if it's worth having on by default. Which means that the default experience is having everything turned up to 11 with every edge-case-useful thing enabled. And that goes against providing a sensible non-scary initial experience. So hopefully they'll reconsider that guideline in endeavouring to make things sane.

Last edited by CatKiller on 30 November 2021 at 4:50 pm UTC
Interknet 30 Nov, 2021
I do agree that better defaults are needed, one of which that I think they should make it default to double-click on things; sure it's been single click for years with KDE, but I'm sure many users are changing this to double-click as they're accustom to more than the amount of users that prefer single-click because that's the way it is across many operating systems and desktop environments.

Sane defaults matter for sure, and having to change numerous things to make that experience feel identical to what's expected isn't a great start.
CyborgZeta 30 Nov, 2021
One of the reasons I like Plasma is that it has sane defaults, for me, but also provides the option to customize further for those who want to do those things.

I don't like to do a lot of customizing, and I like things simple, but I DON'T want what something like GNOME offers.
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