Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Linux Mint KDE is Dead. Plasma 5 killed it.

One of the things I have enjoyed about Linux since I got my first copy on 3.5 inch Floppy Disk is that it can be configured to suit almost anybody's taste.  And my favourite desktop environment is KDE because it has always allowed me a wonderful flexibility in configuring my desktop to suit my work habits.

One of the greatest features of Linux has been the ability to have multiple work spaces (desktops), something that is beginning to find its way into Windows after about 20 years.  It is like having a collection of monitors on a single computer, so it is easy to have different desktops for separate tasks.   Something the KDE 'Plasma' desktop management has allowed us to do is have a different desktop wallpaper on each work space.  Not only that, but on different work spaces on different monitors.

That might sound a little like overkill, but having different wallpapers means I can tell at a glance which work space I am on by simply looking at the wallpaper.  Or I could until today!

I installed the latest Mint 18 KDE which uses Plasma 5.  And discovered that it is broken.  Not only is Plasma 5 broken, but the development team do not plan to fix the most important problem.  This is not a Mint team problem, it is a KDE Plasma problem.  So many things were wrong with Plasma 5 when I booted after the installation that I was shocked.  For a start, the interface is ugly.  Secondly it didn't work properly on my two monitor system.  And it will not allow me to set a separate work space wallpaper.  The drop down menu would not allow me to resize it, something that is simple to do in KDE 4.x.

A little hunting around on Google shows that people have been pleading with the team developing Plasma 5 to fix this issue and that the team has put it in the too hard basket.  They have simply broken something that worked perfectly and given us junk.  And not only junk.  It is ugly junk!

So if you currently use Mint 17.x KDE and are thinking about the move to Mint 18 KDE, all I can suggest is DON'T.

Download the Mint 18 Sarah KDE ISO, make a bootable USB and run it from there while you check out all the horrible new failures.  Try simple things like making a separate wallpaper on each desktop.  Check the ghastly things it can do to your fonts and menu system.  And look at the ugly window decorations.  If you use Activities, try switching activities on the activity pager and see if your monitors flicker like crazy.

If you are very lucky and the basics work, you'l just be missing the nice useful things like different wallpapers.  Despite the Plasma team saying they will not fix the broken wallpaper problem, there's a possibility they might eventually.  If they don;t - well - it simply means KDE as we know it, it dead...