Plasma’s Vision

Plasma -- Durable, Usable, Elegant.
Plasma — Durable, Usable, Elegant.
Over the past weeks, we (KDE’s Plasma team) have distilled the reasons why we do what we do, and what we want to achieve into a vision statement. In this article, I’d like to present Plasma’s vision and explain a bit what is behind it. Let’s start with the statement itself, though:

Plasma is a cross-device work environment by the KDE Community where trust is put on the user’s capacity to best define her own workflow and preferences.

Plasma is simple by default, a clean work area for real-world usage which intends to stay out of your way.
Plasma is powerful when needed, enabling the user to create the workflow that makes her more effective to complete her tasks.

Plasma never dictates the user’s needs, it only strives to solve them. Plasma never defines what the user is allowed to do, it only ensures that she can.

Our motivation is to enable actual work to happen, across devices, across different platforms, using any application needed.

We build to be durable, we create to be usable, we design to be elegant.

I’ve marked a few bits which are especially important in a bold font, let’s get into a bit more detail:

Cross-device — Plasma is a work environment for different classes of devices, it adapts to the form-factor and offers a user interface which is suitable for the device’s characteristics (input methods such as touchscreen, mouse, keyboard) and constraints (screen size, memory and CPU capabilties, etc.).

Define the workflow — Plasma is a flexible tool that can be set up as the user wishes and needs to make her more effective, to get the job done. Plasma is not a purpose in itself, it rather enables and gets out of the way. This isn’t to say that we’ll introduce every single option one can think of, but we strive to serve many users’ use cases.

Simple by default means that Plasma is self-explanatory to new users, and that it offers a clean and sober interface in its default state. We don’t want to overwhelm the user, but present a serene and friendly environment.

Powerful when needed on the other hand means that under the hood, Plasma offers tremendous power that allow to get almost any job done efficiently and without flailing.

We build to be durable, we create to be usable, we design to be elegant. — The end result is a stable workspace that the user can trust, that is friendly and easy to use, and that is beautiful and elegant in how it works.

33 thoughts on “Plasma’s Vision

  1. I am a simple user of kubuntu -kde. I have several craches of kmail and other , wich i don’t remember.
    If I would help, the debug is not clear for me, to dificult. Could some one explane the debug program much simple.

  2. Hi Sebastian.
    I am a somewhat long time linux user. I am what developers can call, a entusiast linux user. I am no dev, just a “normal” guy. Well, i mainly use ubuntu gnome for my normal use om my pc and the diference is in the small details. I always loved kde but after a week or 2 i always ending up using gnome. Gnome is simple for the normal guy who dont understand computers. You just install and use it the way it is. I barely have to tune something. On kde i have to remove apps, put generic names on it, tune definitions , change menus, disable single click, and that selection marker on folders, makes me sometimes cliking on it when i just want to access the folder. I know not everyone thinks the same as me, and i understand it but is somewhat annoying have to change all that. All that apps names are just not simple. konsole, ksysguard, dolphin, kappfinder, it should be, terminal, system monitor, file manager, etc… For people who dont understand computers, its hard to change that.
    But i am looking forward to use kde again, soon. Best regards,

    1. Celso : I absolutely understand and respect your opinion. Just wanted to mention I’m in the opposite case: each time I give Gnome a try I spend hours trying to tweak it with extensions etc and get fed up. I used to have a great experience on Gnome but the extensions I used got dropped.

      1. True. I already tested some and some of them are obsolete. Well, i think KDE has lots of potencial but was missing some aproach to the newbies, like me. From what Sebastian said, it is very good now, so going to try it this weekend. Thanks for the sincere opinion! Best regards!

    2. You should pick your distribution more carefully. The choice of installed apps is a choice your distro makes for you, generic names in the launcher menu have been the default in vanilla Plasma for years, single click is optional and also not the default. The selection marker is an upstream feature though, and I’m not sure you can disable it.

      Perhaps you should have another look at Plasma, almost all of the issues you name have been addressed quite some time ago. :)

      1. I will. Selection marker is somewhat annoying. Not saying that isn’t useful, but just is not for me. I think i was able to disable, but not sure. Can you give an advice for a good distro, rolling release, very stable, simple and good documented? Thanks!

  3. “Simple by default means that Plasma is self-explanatory to new users, and that it offers a clean and sober interface in its default state. We don’t want to overwhelm the user, but present a serene and friendly environment.”

    I think KDE is too overloaded with options. Can you make a expert view? Like Gnome with few options and with expert view all options?

    1. These expert modes generally don’t work, since every expert needs a different set of options, so the distinction of what to put into expert mode and what not is almost impossible to make.

      Instead, we’re striving to make the UI smarter, and easier to understand. That, along with good default (which I believe we also became better at picking!) goes a long way.

  4. Great to see this.

    I like it a lot!!!

    (I hope this means a few removed kde plasma features will see a comeback=)

  5. This is wonderful to hear that the vision statement is one that makes people want to use their computer in the way they want instead of fight with it.

    I’ve installed up-to-date Kubuntu on a few dozen friends’ and clients’ machines and they all take it right away. It even passed the “mom test”.

    1. Thanks!

      It is not just meant as a description of how it works currently, but as a guiding principle how we want to make it work. It’s not a coincidence of course, since we distilled the vision statement from how we have been working on it.

    1. Yes, really.

      We have to make calls what is a sensible feature, and what leads to unmaintainable code sometimes. Plasma’s code base is very flexible, but ultimately, code has to be maintained, and if it introduces too much complexity and sources of problems or performance overhead, we will make trade-offs, and that may sometimes mean that we won’t support a certain feature. Such is life, but as every Free software project we deal with limited resources and have to distribute these wisely.
      That said, there are multiple workaround proposed in this bug-report. You can use Activities to achieve the desired effect, you can write a wallpaper plugin that tracks virtual desktop changes and changes wallpaper accordingly. We’ve gone a long way to make activities work in very similar ways (added an activity pager, for example), and for many users, this covers the use-cases why they want different wallpapers at times very well. We can’t make everyone happy, and I guess if you’re not happy yet, you seem fall into that group unfortunately.
      The obvious solution is to step in and help us., to scratch your own itch, so to say. That, of course takes a little more dedication than a snarky drive-by comment on this article.

    1. Perhaps you could be a little more specific?

      We’ve spent the majority of our attention on stability, fixing bugs and improving performance. There’s no break even on the horizon, so we’ll keep doing that for some time to come.

      Your comment gives very little context to what you’re missing in our current work, which makes it very hard to turn your feedback into actionable plans.

  6. I am using KDE since 11 years. Before I used Apple computers. I changed because KDE is open source and I can control almost everything with Linux and with KDE. This freedom I want and it’s free, too, whitch was another big reason for a change. With your vision statement you address everything which could get better, I am looking forward to that future and to more devices using Plasma. I would love to have a Plasma tablet und a Plasma mobile, too. Thank’s everybody who supports my desktop and Linux!

    1. Thanks a lot for your positive feedback. It’s nice to hear that our work is appreciated, and that is what motivates us to keep doing our work!

  7. Do not listen to those who want to turn plasma into gnome. If this happens, you will lose a significant portion of users, since plasma is valued for customization.

    1. We don’t, but at the same time, we highly respect our friends from GNOME. We realize that Plasma and GNOME cater to different audiences, and yet can still learn and benefit from each other. This are some of the aspects that make Free software great for its users.

  8. Really happy with the vision put forth here. My Plasma setup is quite complex, incorporating various kwin scripts, custom keyboard shortcuts, and widget-packed-panels. A system like MacOS or Windows gives you a UI that is fairly static and caters to everyone; my workflow just couldn’t be reproduced on one of those systems. My sincerest thank yous to you and the whole Plasma team!

  9. About Plasma desktop environment I can suggest the classic start menù as default characterized by lateral preferred icons the right column divided into subcategory because it provide better structure for the user; info center utility: the information issued by it seems to be not correct about the latency section; the switching from mesa drivers to Nvidia drivers makes the operating system impossible to reboot because of the system becomes unstable and the commands are not usable. After saving a file from the browser into a folder the step to forward the folder misses the detection of the file itself (the folder is generically opened without select that precise file: when there are many file this missing becomes annoying). K3b seems doesn’t work very well on burning images into DVD I don’t know making the same into cdrom) I prefer to use to burn image into dvd because of the iso images provided by developers use 2048 block size which is not the size of USB (512 bytes); konsole: it is possible to change colors: the selection white provide the black and green however the green color could be a bit strong as color when it matches black writing besides the green color appears to be not well focused as letters annoying the view; KDe doesn’t provide wayland to PLASMA yet (it is a severe critical issue). A ff din font would be appreciated (if it is possible). I’ll add other observations and suggestions in the case so to improve what I consider the best desktop environment for desktop or laptop computer: PLASMA (KDe).

    1. Thanks for the feedback.

      Some of the points you raise are valid, though they all seem generic to your usage of Plasma, not exactly what this post is about. I’d suggest you check if the issues you run into have already been reported, have been fixed in newer releases, and if not file issue reports so your feedback ends up with the responsible developers.

      This article is about the product and project vision, Plasma developers have recently agreed on. While your point may be valid, my blog isn’t the optimal place to report them.

  10. Other 2 questions:
    Is it possible to add the unmount option near the eject option of the devices notifier? (some times there is only the necessity to unmount or mount a device instead of eject or turning off it) Is it possible to turn off the power of USB devices completely?

    ps: I’ve made a new test with K3b and seems it has had success flawlessly overwriting another image to a rewritable disk: I don’t know if an erasing (zero low level format) option would be useful because the cleaning operation doesn’t start suggesting to avoid to clean the disk so to prevent it from senescence.

  11. I wrote this comment carefully. Please try to consider it without bias.

    I find it strange that this vision statement uses only the female pronoun to describe the user in the third person. The phrases “he or she” or “she or he” are both perfectly acceptable. I do not want an argument about politics; I think this choice takes away from the professionalism of Plasma’s Vision Statement. The problem is that this choice turns it from a gender-neutral vision statement into a political statement. I can only guess at the motivation for this choice of wording, but its effects are visible in the political polarizing that is so common now. There is a compromise on this rather unimportant issue that, if used, might prevent more polarizing, which I think is self-evidently a Bad Thing.

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