Why I don’t like KDE-Plasma anymore

By Wayne Boyd

I don’t care so much about how much system resources a desktop environment uses in a Linux distribution. Most modern computers can handle that sort of thing without even blinking an eye. So when people say they run Openbox, LXQT or XFCE because they want a system that doesn’t eat up memory and speed, I don’t care about that.

So far I haven’t found the best desktop environment for my personal needs. I have, of course, used KDE-Plasma for a long time off and on, and frankly, I like the sliding or cubed desktop rotation thing.

I don’t like that I can’t do that anymore using ctrl-alt-right (or left) arrow. I have to either put the mouse over the panel and rotate the mouse wheel, or click on the desktop pager in the taskbar. Frankly, that’s just annoying to me.

As I understand it, KDE-Plasma has moved away from virtual desktops and they prefer you to use Activities, which I get but don’t need and don’t use. Even with Activities, switching is annoying.

I do like XFCE because you can switch with the ctrl-alt-arrow thing, and with the mouse by rotating the wheel. I also like that you can have multiple wallpapers on each of your virtual desktops. I’m not happy that there’s no animation with the switching, but that’s okay with me as a trade off.

Mate is pretty much the same thing but without multiple wallpapers.

My favorite right now, oddly enough, is Openbox as implemented in the maboxlinux distribution, but not because it supports multiple wallpapers (it doesn’t) or rotating wallpapers (it doesn’t) but just because I like what the maboxlinux people have done with it. It works really well with my ultra-wide curved monitor as the image below demonstrates how I’m writing this article.

Mabox Linux lets you put a website on the left with Superkey-leftarrow and on the right with Superkey-rightarrow, exactly splitting the screen down the middle. Many other cool window placements are available, too.

Every time I think of coming back to a distro that uses Plasma, I’m annoyed by this virtual-desktop switching issue.

In fact, when it comes down to it I really like Gnome’s implementation of virtual-desktops the best with their dynamic allocation. Essentially Gnome starts with one virtual desktop, but when you open a program a second virtual desktop becomes available, and expands (or contracts) as necessary. With Gnome extensions you can even make the desktops scroll horizontally instead of the default vertical arrangement. You can even make it so when you get to the end of your virtual desktops in Gnome it automatically goes back to the first.

All this is done with Gnome extensions and this process, making a Gnome system to my liking, takes a whole lot of work and I wind up adding so many extensions that it doesn’t look or feel like Gnome anymore at all and eventually seems to slow down the typing on my keyboard.

Which is why I keep coming back to Openbox on the maboxlinux installation. I do need to customize it to my liking, but isn’t that part of the challenge and fun of Linux anyway?

Not to try to sell you desktop environments you might not like, I just don’t like KDE-Plasma anymore. I wish they’d provide an easy fix to the virtual desktop switching problem.

Here’s an image of my maboxlinux desktop on my ultra-wide monitor (3440 X 1440).

Wayne Boyd's mabox Desktop
My maboxlinux desktop on my ultra-widescreen monitor.

Which Linux Boots the Fastest?

I’ve been using most of the linux Distros and DEs (desktop environments like KDE Plasma, Gnome, XFCE, Mate, LXQt, etc.) going all the way back to the previous century (I’m not joking… 1997).

Some I really have liked a lot, but they, for whatever reason, seem to hang on boot while waiting for a “start job” to complete, and it will wait for a minute and 30 seconds before continuing with the boot process. Haven’t you ever had issues like that?

Obviously, a Linux Distro is going to load faster if it doesn’t encounter any glitches while booting.

The fastest I’ve found so far, no kidding, is Fedora XFCE. I can boot the system and time it from the instant it leaves the GRUB menu to the instant it is in full graphical mode, at 19 seconds.

That’s the fastest so far. It’s what I am using on one of my partitions right now.

Plasma 5.14 Just Released – Here’s what to discover.

Virtual Desktops Have Changed in Favor of Activities

It doesn’t seem possible to switch virtual desktops with a programmable keyboard shortcut anymore, however, in my pure Archlinux KDE Plasma 5.14 install, it is possible to switch desktops by placing the cursor on a blank area of the screen and using the mouse wheel – if you have one. You can also switch to virtual desktops by pressing Ctrl-F1 / Ctrl-F2 etc.

Activities, on the other hand, can be programmed to switch with your own programmable keystrokes, AKA keyboard shortcuts.

For example, on my computer I set up four virtual desktops and four Activities. I also set up so I can switch to any activity on the left with Ctrl-Alt-Left or on the right with Ctrl-Alt-Right. I used to do that with virtual desktops, however, now activities behave much like virtual desktop switching used to but each activity has it’s own set of virtual desktops completely separate from the other virtual desktops. Therefore, I have 16 virtual desktops! These things are relatively easy to figure out how to do in the new KDE Plasma 5.15 release.

Since each activity can have a diffent keyboard shortcut, unlike KDE Plasma virtual desktops which all share the same wallpaper, it’s more like XFCE in that sense. The default (and perhaps only) animation in switching activities is sliding. I hope they change that. I like the cube.

Every time you set up a new activity you have the same setup of virtual desktops you had in the original. That’s probably a flaw that could be corrected, but who cares? I like four virtual desktops, so I set that up. Then I set up four activities, and each has four virtual desktops, and I can now switch from activity to activity with CTRL-ALT-LEFT (or RIGHT). It gives me 16 virtual desktops, if you follow me. Mind you that configuring how to switch activities is up to you.

I now have a super easy way to switch activities and a super easy way to switch to desktops within that activity. Essentially, I have 4 x 4 desktops, or 16. You can have as many or as few as you want. I think some projects might get buried or lost – like this article. I lost which activity and/or virtual desktop out of my 16 contained my article while I did research. Fortunately, I found it again!

KDE is still under development

KDE is still changing and I’m an old school Linux user. I used to use KDE but then abandoned it in favor of Cinnamon and Mate until years later. I’ve tried, of course, Gnome, XFCE, etcetera, but now I’m back examining Gnome after 21 years of Linux experience.

KDE is improving all the time. It is resource heavy, unlike XFCE which is lighting fast, but it’s prettier and more functional if you don’t mind the lag. Of course, if you’ve got a modern computer, there’s no lag. Go with KDE Plasma 5.14.

Remember, my personal recommendation? Kde Plasma 5.14!

Upgrading to Fedora 28 from Fedora 27

Upgrading is slow but definitely worth it.

I am presently upgrading from Fedora 27 to Fedora 28, which as of writing just came out.

At the stage I am at now I have already undertaken all of the command line instructions and have rebooted the computer. The system has started the upgrade process in the reboot. It’s taking a while but I think it will be worth it.

In the meantime, I am without my computer. So I’m using my new Pixel 2XL phone to dictate this article. It makes a few mistakes but that’s ok.
I was once a big fan of rolling Linux distributions but sometimes found them unstable. Sometimes certain programs would just stop working, or the whole OS, which is part of the deal with rolling distributions. I always thought I wanted the bleeding edge of Linux software, something you can get with rolling distributions.

What what I found, however, was that I really didn’t have the stomach or patience to wait for those programs that stopped working to start working again or go through tedious and confusing steps to get the program that stopped working to work again, or get the whole OS up and going again.
I am no newbie to Linux. I’ve been using Linux since 1998. So in these 20 years I have used most of the major distributions, if not all. Pretty much you name it, I’ve run it.

What I’m using now is Fedora Linux. The reason I decided to go with Fedora is that Linus Torvalds uses it and he is the creator of Linux.

Furthermore, I discovered, unlike some other non-rolling distributions, Fedora Linux can be upgraded to the next version without reinstalling the whole software. Meanwhile, you get regular updates so your programs stay fairly bleeding edge.

Upgrading Fedora from one version to the next can be done easily either from the command line or from inside the desktop environment, (which in my case is KDE).

That’s what I’m doing now. I’ve upgraded, or rather am still upgrading, Fedora 27 to 28, all from the command line. It’s easy to find instructions how to do this by a simple Google search, or if you prefer, DuckDuckGo.

At a certain point in the installation procedure the computer automatically restarts to begin the actual update process. That takes time. Be prepared not to be able to use your computer for about 45 minutes or so, which explains why I’m dictating this article on my phone rather than typing it on my computer.

So if you’re thinking of upgrading, by all means do so. Just search Google for “upgrade Fedora 27 to Fedora 28.” Be prepared that this will take some time but it will be worth it in the end.

The process is now complete. My computer is back to normal. Everything is as it was but under the hood is the new Fedora 28 version of Linux.