Igor Ljubuncic of Dedoimedo published his review of the Plasma 5.12 beta recently. As always, he’s very thorough, and points out out issues that keep Plasma from being A+ quality. A major part of our Usability and Productivity initiative is honestly acknowledging user feedback and criticism with humility instead of defensiveness or dismissal. That way, rather than engaging in pointless arguments, we can focus on fixing problems!
With our aggressive focus on user satisfaction, we read these kinds of reviews very carefully and take their comments seriously. I wanted to provide a look at all the issues that Igor raised in his review. I went through every issue and made sure that if it was a legitimate bug, it was tracked with a Bugzilla ticket. Many already were, but some weren’t, so I filed tickets for them. Here’s the full list, along with the bugs’ status and our plans for fixing them, where applicable:
- Can’t easily reset everything to default settings: (KDE bug 389568)
- Default bottom panel isn’t optimal for using a global menu: this is true, but since the global menu isn’t shown by default, I think it’s fair that if you’re going to use it, you’ll need to change the UI a bit. This is why Plasma is so customizable!
- Global menu only works in Qt programs (e.g. not in LibreOffice, Firefox, Steam, etc): it’s unfortunately not something we can fix; this is up to the distros and app developers. Ubuntu’s former Unity global menu feature worked for all apps because Canonical patched the software they packaged to make it work.
- System Settings window opens too narrow by default: (KDE bug 389617). A trivial change. Will be fixed soon.
- Sidebar headers are too light: (KDE bug 384638). Not a bad design decision, but rather a a bug caused by the choice of implementation.
- Slight RGB hinting font anti-aliasing not used by default, even though that’s the best setting: (KDE bug 389598). We may be able to change the defaults here to improve things for the majority of our users.
- Default font size should be slightly larger with Noto Sans: a controversial proposal, but might be worth it. I plan on doing some side-by-side testing for this.
- Get Hot New Stuff never seems to works right and is full of outdated content: unfortunately, this is true. It’s a major pain point for a lot of people that we’re aware of and planning to put some work into.
- Dragging a URL from Firefox to an Icons-Only Task Manager doesn’t work: (KDE bug 389613). Worth mentioning that this mostly works with a regular task manager if you drag it to the region that holds app launchers, not the window list part.
- Hard to create/differentiate launchers/shortcut icons for multiple versions of an app: (KDE bug 389035)
- Panel resize UI should have a text box/spinbox to choose the height: (KDE bug 372364). There’s a patch currently undergoing the review process that makes this better!
- Spectacle should be able to not include window shadows: (KDE bug 372408)
- Spectacle’s “Save As…” option should be more discoverable: (KDE bug 389614). Trivial fix; will be done soon.
- Discover app pages look sparse: not our fault, this is entirely on app developers and Ubuntu 16.04 (or KDE Neon, depending on your perspective).
- Discover doesn’t show app star ratings: (KDE bug 389601)
- Discover doesn’t show reviews by default: (KDE bug 380514)
- Discover’s settings page has a scrollbar that overlaps interactive UI elements: (KDE bug 389602). A clear bug; will likely be fixed soon.
- Discover’s settings/sources page is confusing and exhibits poor usability: Mostly true for distros that have a lot of repos, but a legitimate criticism. We’re discussing this internally.
- Discover doesn’t offer a way to install NVIDIA drivers or other similar things: Discover is an app store, not a driver manager or a package manager, but we’ll see if there’s any way we can improve this.
- Dolphin should add Places panel entries for Documents, Download, Pictures, and Music: (KDE bug 389618). A simple enough change, though I think it may take some doing to avoid introducing duplicate entries for existing users.
- Support for smartphones (especially iPhones) is spotty: A known issue. We’re working on it, slowly.
- Copying files to samba shared resets their timestamps: (KDE bug 356651). I am actively working on producing a patch for this!
- KIO doesn’t mount remote filesystems locally like GVFs does: (KDE bug 389571). A major architectural issue. We may need to organize a development sprint for it.
Also, Igor marked as broken a few things that actually do work, or are already fixed in the next versions of the software:
- You can indeed add folders to Dolphin’s places panel with the context menu!
- Support for hiding whole sections in Dolphin’s Places panel has already landed in master and should be released with Dolphin 18.04!
- Konsole tab issues were actually caused by Qt; they changed the behavior of the tab widget and we needed to adapt to that change.
- Dragging a URL from Firefox’s URL bar to the desktop does create a shortcut to that URL. However, we can improve the usability: (KDE bug 389600)
How you can help
These kinds of issues are major pain points that get brought up over and over again in Plasma reviews and internet discussions. Fixing them has a disproportionate PR impact and generates a stupendous amount of good will. If you’re a developer, please try to hit one of these bugs sometime in the coming days or weeks! it will make a huge difference. This is how we move toward making Plasma a no-brainer choice in the Linux world.
Want to help but don’t know where to start? Read this: https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved
Let all go and polish Plasma to a mirror sheen!