Wednesday, August 13, 2014

KDE Framework and Plasma 5 Packages by Eric Hameleers

This is the day some of you have been waiting for. It's the day where KDE Framework and Plasma 5 packages are released by Eric Hameleers (announcement will be posted soon later) after KDE team announced it last week (Framework 5.1.0) and yesterday (Plasma 5.0.1). The packages has been uploaded to KTown and mirrored through several mirror sites that normally host the KDE packages.

A little FYI, the next successor of KDE will be based on Qt5 and QML and in order to make the transition goes as smooth as possible, KDE team decided  to freeze the Plasma Workspaces and the KDE Platform at 4.11.x branch (but Plasma Workspaces will still be supported until August 2015). Workspace development efforts were focused on Plasma 2 (later changed to Plasma 5), while KDE Platform is in transition to Frameworks 5. KDE Applications will keep using 4.x branch as of now.

Now, back to Framework and Plasma 5. These new packages are meant for early-adopters and serve more like a preview just like in KDE 4.0. Don't expect this to be added to Slackware soon, but the idea is that you can help KDE team to polish this packages. The KDE Team focused on building the solid core as a base first while waiting for the rest of the KDE Applications to get ported to Qt5 and QML. The full transition is scheduled to happen around 2015.

Eric has built this packages since Framework and Plasma 5.0.0, but didn't release them yet since it hasn't reached a quality level to be introduced for public, so we waited until the developers pushed the first update to both and things are progressing nicely. Most (but not all) bugs have been fixed, the performance has increased a lot, and more functionality has been implemented. We think it's ready for public consumption (but again, this is considered a public beta testing), so he delivered the packages for you to try.

If you decided to try this packages, make sure several things first:
  1. Make sure your computer is running latest Slackware-Current (as the time this post is written, it's August 8).
  2. Make sure you have been using KDE 4.13.3 provided by Eric Hameleers.
  3. DO NOT install these packages on a computer where you expect a stable environment. 
When you are ready, go to KTown repository or any other mirror sites below and READ the README first!!.  This will give you an idea about this packages and how to download/install them. As noted by Eric in his previous post, he had tried his best to keep KDE 4 and 5 separated, from both package naming and also configuration files. This means that you can have 2 KDE versions installed on one machine and it's so easy to switch one to another.

We have been doing a private beta testing for few days in both VM and real hardware environment and found some known issues. This list is not a full list,  but it will be added based on user's report:
  • When you switch back to KDE 4, in some cases, all the icons in Application tab in K menu will change to blue folder icon. The solution is to reinstall KDE 4.13.3 packages, log out and login again. That will fix it.
  • Adding new items on KDE Menu Editor sometimes do not work. You might need to logout/login to have your changes appears for the first time. The second addition will work normally.
  • hplip error message can be ignored. The reason is because Plasma 5 do not implement the old xembed, so all other applications that still uses the old system tray will not be visible as they don't have a place to dock. The solution is not elegant, but you can use third-party system tray, such as stalonetray or wmsystemtray (both are available in SBo).
  • There are 2 system settings. One came from Plasma 5 and the other came from KDE 4. The one in Plasma 5 can be seen in Favorites tab, while the one from KDE 4 (which is more complete) can be seen in Applications > Settings > System Settings. The system settings from Plasma 5 is not yet fully migrated and more icons and functionality will be added in the future.
  • There are certain condition that might crash your plasma shell; eg. Typing on search field in Favorites tab and then remove the text, but it will restart automatically.
  • If you need to run applications quickly, use the new KRunner which can be called directly by typing on top of your desktop. However, it will not save your history.
  • Public holiday are not yet shown. See this URL for more information.
  • Some application will revert to it's initial state (such as Chrome or Chromium) since all local files for KDE 5 are now placed under .config5, .local5, .cache5, and .kde5. Your previous configuration stays in .config, .cache, .local, and .kde.
  • It still have high resource usage due to design limitations in KWin, but it will be fixed in future releases.
  • kded5 might consume a lot of CPU resources after some time
Here are the usual mirror sites that host KDE Framework and Plasma 5 packages:
The packages are placed under current/5.0.1 and there's a symlink for current/testing -> current/5.0.1.

Have fun with KDE Framework and Plasma 5 :)