It was not so long ago that Plasma 5.18 graced my computer and very excitingly, 5.19 is here now. Since Tumbleweed is my main Linux system I use, I decided to share my experience on openSUSE Tumbleweed but it should be noted that you can enjoy Plasma 5.19 on Leap as well using the backports repositories. Leap is not my preferred method but it is an option.
Bottom Line Up Front: It is another fantastic release with much attention being made to the finer details that enhance the usability experience without taking away from any of its functionality.
This release of Plasma is being called the “more polished Plasma” and I think this is absolutely correct. The transition for me has been quite delightful. New little bits of happiness have been sprinkled about my desktop experience. There is nothing particularly earth shattering going on here. Just continued refinements.
The Little Things
I will be the first to call me out and remind anyone that I would totally poo-poo on making a big deal about the little touches of a desktop environment. I will hold fast on my belief that function over form but when you can add some form to function, you really hit the sweet spot with me.
For starters, what really stands out is the Bluetooth connections applet that shows the status of a connection. It is just a small thing, a status icon on the disconnected devices.
Discover is becoming my favorite software center now. It has been working quite nicely. The only thing it is missing on openSUSE is access to the Snap store. It has been handling updates quite nicely as well as anything with Flatpak. I do have a propensity to use the terminal because I love the terminal but Discover is really eating into that a bit.
It’s easy to use, responsive and has been working very well for me when installing new applications. This is not the Discover of 2 years ago and if you haven’t used it in a while, now may be a good time.
The neatest feature that I think is noteworthy is how system settings are presented to you know when you call them up. For example: in Plasma past, when you opened the display settings using krunner or in the application menu, it opened up that specific module only. Now, calling the Display Settings, will open up the module but in the context of the system settings menu so you can Select < All Settings arrow back to all your settings and continue on with your modification of things as you may see fit.
This is just a little thing but it is a great little thing and quite welcome.
The Media Player applet looks a lot nicer now. Before it was fine but now it has a more appealing layout and you can adjust the volume of what is being played back right there, which is very nice.
There was some talk about improving the spacing to give a more consistent look but it must be so subtle to me that I am just not picking up on the differences there. I will say that the notifications are is far better now than it was a year or so ago where it would become an almost epileptic mess of dialog boxes and rendering other applets non-functional until Plasma was done telling you what it insisted upon telling you.
What I Like
All theses little tweaks and user experience enhancements certainly plays into the idea that this is mostly a “Polished Plasma” release. I would say, that these incremental enhancements are very welcome and further underscore why I enjoy using Plasma, day in and day out. It is as though the developers have my interests at heart when they do their fantastic work.
The Memory information is nothing new but I really enjoy just looking at it sometimes. I often wonder, what exactly is going on right now that the memory is fluctuating like it does. Regardless, it is just a fun informational display that really appeals to my nerdiness.
What I don’t like
Due to the nature of rolling distributions and enhancements, I do have a lot of updates in a week or if I wait, a couple of weeks. Because of this, I am often eagerly looking for updates to see what has rolled down. This means, when new things are coming, like Plasma, I am going around and updating everything excitedly to see the new shiny. Not is not a bad thing about openSUSE or Plasma but rather a problem with me as I have a hard time waiting to the end of the work day or weekend to see what great newness I get to play with. It has also made me very spoiled and when I do, on the rare occasion, have an issue I can forget how good I have it.
I would most certainly call this a “Polished Plasma” release and I am very content with it. I look forward to further releases like this. They make the time spent on my computer just a bit more enjoyable. Not just with new features but all the different usability and customization tweaks to which they give me such easy access. I hope they continue down this fantastic path for years to come.