The Plasma Is Back

After a long hiatus from KDE Plasma, I am back, back on KDE Plasma since 6.0 on Arch Linux. Oh, did I forget to mention Arch Linux? Yeah, I dropped EndeavourOS for Arch Linux actual, and I'll get to that too, later in this story!


So, back in 1997, I started using a desktop environment known as KDE, or at the time actually was known as the Kool Desktop Environment. And it was, it was pretty nice, cool, and was basically revolutionary. Over the years, 1.x came out, 2.x came out, 3.x was amazing, but starting to hit some interoperability snags between other environments, most notably GNOME. 3.x was very solid, however, but things were definitely making changes to some different ways.

4.0 was the first entirely new build of KDE, and the first start of Plasma, the new desktop environment itself, spinning off from their origins to somehow rebrand themselves so to speak. Long story short, 4.0 was actually the worst release in the history of KDE's DE to date, because it seemed like it was the most unstable, untested, unrefined thing they ever built. It took major bug fixing to bring it up to the stable DE it had been since 3.x.

5.0 later came out, and somewhat redeemed themselves, but not entirely. Functionality that I loved from 4.x was ripped out of 5.x without any rhyme or reason, and new, unusual things were added. Ripped out was the ability that I loved, allowing you to attach multiple windows to a single frame and turn the titlebars into literal tabs to switch between. kwin rules even existed to make this automatic. I loved it, but in 5.x it was gone, like it never existed. What was added was this new concept of “Activities”, which was similar, but different, somewhat, to Virtual Desktops. They both basically did the same thing... But not entirely. It became confusing. Why have two ways to do the same thing? Acitivities compounded the issue more and more by having multiple Virtual Desktops per Activity....

Enough of this! I said, and for a while, I moved to GNOME after, surprisingly, someone form GNOME's PR team reached out to me to talk to me, and give me a point of view to consider and try with the new GNOME 3.x. I did. And... Long story short, I used it for many years.


There's so much to say about GNOME, but this isn't so much a story about GNOME as it is about the era of changes, and how things flowed in my past. GNOME is pretty solid, it's UX has always been very nice, and accurate. Native GNOME apps just worked, and generally worked well.... Until Wayland started to become the popular thing. New bugs in GNOME started to work, for me still in X11, and no matter how many times I went to the GNOME developers to report bugs, their first and literally only response was “Does this happen on Wayland?” Not caring at all about X11 anymore. Their goal was Wayland. And by all means, Wayland is pretty awesome, for what it is.

Wayland... However, is being rushed so fast, so furiously upon us that there's not even all the useful tools we older users of Linux have come to expect to have and use. There's some equivalents for some things, but there's currently no wmctl, Input-Leap (Fork of Barrier, Fork of Synergy) is coming along, but needs various support from different DE developers. GNOME implemented support, but claimed it was “Supported” before it was even ready by the actual Input-Leap development side, because honestly, how can you really develop and test something that has no support for what you need, until after it's actually supported and released? Chicken and Egg, GNOME announced too early thus making it technically a lie.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself here. GNOME is solid, great, but has issues. It's strictly CSD-based (Client Side Decorators), which can be nice, but when you look at the variety of applications that don't even look the same because they have their own CSD styles and such.... It starts to get a bit old, and the lack of conformity grows larger from the norm. Then extensions, theming, a lot of things that GNOME is literally pushing off. Completely changing extensions from one JS format to another breaking all past ones. Breaking every extension every single release. Theming is similar but even more blunt, Adwaita is literally going the path to NOT be themable, to make it “more stable.”

Well, hmm... This seems a very direct path to consistency, while hindering customizability. It's an interesting approach, dumbing down.

Plasma 6

So, KDE Plasma 6 came out in the Arch Linux official stable repos, and I'd already fully switched off to Xfce with a very unique setup of systemd, and autorander methods to automate some factors of it. But, Plasma 6 was finally something that was solid. Is it Qt6 that'd already been well polished? I'm sure that had some to do with it. But they did things that were interesting. Things worked better, smoother. Still some bugs to work out, already on Plasma 6.0.3, but it's not nearly as bad as the 4.0 release or the 5.0 release either. This was actually reasonable on the first release.

Still, they have some things that just make me cringe, like Activities is still there, and I'd thought it was on the chopping block.... Apparently someone in KDE's team has to have it, though! The Dashboard, though, a much improved touch that I just really love.

A couple things really helped me consider going back to KDE Plasma though, beyond the new release. The native support (In Wayland at least) for VRR. The fact most of the applications I use are Qt-based, Electron based, or GTK-based but not using the system libraries for those (Thunderbird, for example). Pretty much the majority of software I was using was actually more dominantly Qt-based than GTK based which kind of helped influence me a little (more like a lot).

So, for now, KDE Plasma is back on my primary day-to-day Desktop Environment, and hopefully this remains a good thing.

Arch Linux

Oh! I did say I dropped EndeavourOS for Arch Linux actual? Yes, yes I sure did! Most of this is because, while EndeavourOS is good, they still live primarily on Telegram, and I just can't support Telegram as a previous blog of mine mentions. Telegram is literally the worst social media platform of them all, and I stand by that statement fully.

But it's not just that. archinstall has grown, and has become quite a thing of beauty actually. I was generating some form of nightly custom-install thing for EndeavourOS's customizable installer, so in the very rare scenario I would need to reinstall my system to recover from a major catastrophe, I had a nice means do to so. Well... archinstall's JSON file method, is so much easier and better to work with, that it makes more sense to simply use that, and integrate that into my restore process automation. So I did. Now I have a higher level piece of mind, nightly backups, snapshots, and a near fully automated recovery process that can get me back up and running in 20 minutes or less.


So, that's my story for now. Hope you enjoyed!

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