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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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Xpander 30 Nov, 2021
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.

Exactly that.
Used it for last 5-6 months..while it was mostly stable and working fine, there were loads of small annoying issues and bugs and sometimes updates changed some settings or moved things around.

Switched back to MATE for now, but surely will be checking back to KDE in the future, cause i liked the overall experience minus the annoying issues.
HazukiLegend 30 Nov, 2021
Quoting: InterknetI 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.

I totally agree on this one. I like to ocationally click on a file once when browsing a directory and with KDE i always end up opening the files when I don't want to. And to new users the option to turn single-click off is not always obvious.
randyl 30 Nov, 2021
Plasma does need to be simpler by default. However, I disagree that it doesn't need "dumbed down". It should and needs to be simplified and advanced options should have to be enabled by the user. Users who don't want to tweak and fiddle with their settings shouldn't even see those advanced options. I think saying that Elementary and Gnome are for "those users" is absolutely the wrong mindset if they want to be the mainstream option like Windows or Mac OS. They don't need to remove all those options, just hide them all until advanced settings are enabled and provide sane defaults and simple customization options (like Windows and Mac OS do).
Eike 30 Nov, 2021
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Quoting: dibzOr as I like to call it, high-resolution whitespace.

GustyGhost 30 Nov, 2021
One way that any software project can move to become simpler is to stop trying to be everything. I don't want my DE to have its own built in video player or backup snapshotter especially when I probably already have my own tools in place to handle those things.
Shmerl 30 Nov, 2021
The usual points apply. It should be simple but not simpler than that. Gnome didn't nail it. But I think KDE developers get the idea in general.

I like the VtM reference in the linked article :)

Last edited by Shmerl on 30 November 2021 at 6:09 pm UTC
mrazster 30 Nov, 2021
In the past, I've been keeping away from KDE as I've had all kinds of issues with KDE/plasma, anything from stability issues to inconsistency and confusing options in systemsettings.

But for various technical reasons I'm currently stuck on KDE/plasma and have been running it for a little over a year. And I have to say it's really growing on me, fast and hard. I have come to really like it. It's been stable, performant and just working.

But the overwhelming amount of settings and customization options can be a bit much, even for a person who have been using linux since back in 2005. So I can absolutely understand new users being a bit “put off” or even intimidated by all options and what they actually do. So in my mind, it's a good thing that the devs are picking up on this and hopefully trying to address it.

So maybe work a little on the defaults and then and the rework the system settings so you have "basic options" always shown. And then have the ability to expand to more "advanced options" when/if needed.

Last edited by mrazster on 30 November 2021 at 6:19 pm UTC
Schattenspiegel 30 Nov, 2021
Plan does not sound so bad. Throwing a cartload of options at your face at every corner is one of the weaknesses of KDE. Hopefully they look more in the direction of things like Cinnamon than Gnome for inspiration and we might get a good improvement in usability. Another weakness is the need to constantly click 'apply' with KDE - the trained confirmation clicks are what cause 'L(inus)TT incidents' + an option to remove that would make workflow so much faster.
CatKiller 30 Nov, 2021
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Quoting: mrazsterSo maybe work a little on the defaults and then and the rework the system settings so you have "basic options" always shown. And then have the ability to expand to more "advanced options" when/if needed.

That's a pattern that they're specifically wary of:
QuoteHowever the basic/advanced paradigm does not work for grouping and separating features, especially when explicitly using the terms "basic" and "advanced" in the user interface. The problem is that different users have different needs, and what one user considers advanced will be considered basic to another user. Also, even "basic" users may very occasionally have a need to use or configure "advanced" features. Users who doubt their technical prowess will fear entering the advanced view, while users of great ego will find the basic view insulting even if it meets their needs better than the advanced view.
poisond 30 Nov, 2021
KDE has already been dumbed down.
I was a huge KDE3 fan, but KDE4 replaced all the great and useful features with pointless eyecandy, bad performance and instability while being an unreasonable resource hog.
So for me it already lost all its appeal and I switched to to something better performing.
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