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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?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Purple Library Guy 30 Nov, 2021
Quoting: CatKiller
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:
Yeah. I'm not sure they're right about that though.
And I mean, the extra options don't have to be very hidden, it could be just you click on that fuzzy line at the bottom of any given little options page that says "more options", and it sinks down and reveals them. And if you are a serious options person, well, you can have an option to reveal them all by default.
CatKiller 30 Nov, 2021
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Quoting: Purple Library GuyYeah. I'm not sure they're right about that though.
And I mean, the extra options don't have to be very hidden, it could be just you click on that fuzzy line at the bottom of any given little options page that says "more options", and it sinks down and reveals them. And if you are a serious options person, well, you can have an option to reveal them all by default.
Hey, I'm not sure that they're right either. I mentioned upthread that their policy of turning on all the taps has consequences that can be undesirable. I just mentioned that they're currently wary of the "Advanced Settings" approach. And I'm sure we can all think of examples where "users of great ego will find the basic view insulting even if it meets their needs better than the advanced view."
STiAT 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.

They break stuff on a regular base. I am using it as a daily driver too since 1998 (1 year break using Budgie though), and have been contributing to KDE for some years (I do not any longer).

KDE is more complex than necessary, especially because of the reason that you can customize so much.

The ony thing which I find really stable is KWin, and it's certainly better than mutter.

Everything else breaks every here and there, KIO in Dolphin, GetNewStuff, Settings crashing applying a global theme (as in the cuttent version), shell "hangs" because some effect ticks out, panel crashing, dual screen not working properly (not saving settings, not setting wallpaler, can't interact with one screen, not enumerating devices properly, having issues having two identical monitors to identify them properly), Dolphin can't display Android Storage any longer (complaining you should use MTP while you do already), audio devices disappearing and never showing up again...

And thats just a few of those I experienced in the past 6 Month only using stable releases.

They break a lot, often in the name of fixing something breaking some other stuff. The beast is so complex it's almost impossible to test.
Lanz 1 Dec, 2021
Sane defaults is fine, but don't force the design paradigms of Windows 11 or OSX on us and don't remove any features for the sake of simplicity. Now that Microsoft is trying to be Apple, KDE should try to be Microsoft when it still cared about productivity - ie classic taskbar, powerful window management, competent file management, etc.
elmapul 1 Dec, 2021
Quoting: LibertyPaulMHe'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.

i once customized my theme A LOT, then i realized something obvious: im not an designer.
i wanted an pretty system but didnt knew how to do that, so outsourcing was the best option.
not to mention that most of my design choices where... too distracting to actually work on my computer.
const 1 Dec, 2021
I really wished they did a review to check which options belong where.
On KDE, i regularly find options that belong in the preferences in some context menus or the application menu. Or vice versa. Or options that belong in the application can only be changed in the global kde settings.
In the end, the application menus and context menus are cluttered and it's hard to find the things you want to do. If KDE would improve here, i think the usability would already be very very high without the need to remove any features.


Last edited by const on 1 December 2021 at 7:14 am UTC
Matombo 1 Dec, 2021
@ The People saying Plasma is unstable, you are probably running Ubuntu?
Thing is, as far as I'm aware, kde has no lts branch, so if you want the latest bugfixes you need the latest version, but ubuntu is stuck to whatever version was the one on release, so 20.04 is lacking behind in bugfixes over 1 and a half year now. 18.03 3 and a half year.
Extra points if by change the version on release was one with a lot of new not throughly tested features.
Xpander 1 Dec, 2021
Quoting: Matombo@ The People saying Plasma is unstable, you are probably running Ubuntu?
Thing is, as far as I'm aware, kde has no lts branch, so if you want the latest bugfixes you need the latest version, but ubuntu is stuck to whatever version was the one on release, so 20.04 is lacking behind in bugfixes over 1 and a half year now. 18.03 3 and a half year.
Extra points if by change the version on release was one with a lot of new not throughly tested features.

I was running on Arch Linux. Dolphin was the worst offender. Sometimes it didn't refresh the contents of the directory. like when extracting a zip/rar or whatever archive, it didn't update its contents automatically. It also crashed from time to time. The list view of files didn't auto-resize its columns according to the window size, so i had the horizontal scrollbar to see the file creation dates for example on smaller window. Panel settings were a finnicky. Sometimes changing something messed all up and panel resized itself weirdly. Main menu just straight up segfaulted several times without loading at all, had to use legacy main menu (or launcher was it called iirc). Kwin, while it worked mostly without issues, there were times when everything froze on the screen, mouse input and all worked, but playing videos or the window refreshes didn't update, had to disable/enable compositing to make it work again. Also for whatever reason kwin compositor didn't turn off when launching games in proton for whatever reason, had to manually turn it off. Worked fine with native games. plasmashell was eating RAM like no tomorrow after several days of uptime.. it creeped up to 3.5GB at times for this process alone.

Just to name few issues i had during my 5-6 month of using it.

edit: i used 5.21, 5.22 and 5.23 iirc


Last edited by Xpander on 1 December 2021 at 8:01 am UTC
syylk 1 Dec, 2021
I'm a long, long time user of KDE; I've kept defaults, I changed everything, I left only the bare k-tools, I added them all, I themed every desktop/activity, and fiddled with per-window and per-app settings.

I don't care how much (or little) customizability KDE gives me. Usually it's plenty.

I care about one thing, and one thing only.

A simple, one click, RELIABLE, system-wide, PORTABLE, forever-supported way of doing two tasks:

1. Save all the settings, geometries, fonts, menu items and orders, colors, thicknesses, EVERYTHING for all K/Qt apps, in a text file called "${HOME}/all_my_kde_settings.cfg"

2. Restore all the settings, geometries, fonts, menu items and orders, colors, thicknesses, EVERYTHING for all K/Qt apps, from a text file called "${HOME}/all_my_kde_settings.cfg"

So I won't want to rip my soul yet again if I have to prime another machine like my ultra-customized main rig.
x_wing 1 Dec, 2021
Quoting: ssj17vegeta
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) ?

Kubuntu is not a good example of KDE integration. Try KDE Neon if you want a Ubuntu based distro with a stable KDE.
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