Core System Management
System Settings & Muon Software Centre
Plasma and KDE in general have a reputation for being the most configurable desktop environment in existence, and Plasma 5.2 keeps the status quo, but with some much appreciated changes to the system settings panel which is subject to an ongoing redesign.
The most obvious change is an update to the hierarchy of the various configuration modules. Previous versions of Plasma based the configuration options on technical aspects of the system, which lead to some head-scratching grouping such as two “appearance” sections with seemingly random icons such as “Locale” and “Application Appearance” falling under the same header. This, combined with the fact that Plasma 4 gave you a thousand options meant that the System Settings panel was a labyrinthine mess.
For Plasma 5 developers launched a full-on study complete with bar-charts and scatter-plots to determine how applications should be grouped, and while some assumptions could be considered obvious, after some weeks of statistics gathering they managed to organise the settings screen into to a much more thoughtful hierarchy. Instead of headers like “Common Application Appearance and Behaviour” categories are now named “Appearance” and simply contain all options that affect how your software looks.
The desktop effects, compositing, and “visual flair” options have seen the biggest changes, and now desktop effects options are built in a way that no two effects ‘clash’. Within Plasma 4 it was possible to set two minimization animations which would work simultaneously creating terrible looking transitions and effects. Plasma 5 smartly groups similar options together, and has you select them in a way that prevents users from breaking the intended effects.
Linux had App Centres Before it was Cool
Muon Discover and Muon Update Manager had become the standard software management tools for Plasma 4 near the end of the legacy desktops’ lifecycle, and although not specifically using Frameworks 5 quite yet the Muon applications are a Plasma 5 software staple. This application is specifically notable because its interface is based on the favoured technology of Plasma 5 and Frameworks 5 (QML). While Muon Discover will likely ‘fit’ the application aesthetic a bit better in future versions, the animation of this software discovery tool is much closer to what we will see as Frameworks 5 applications march forward to the highly expressive QML interface language in the future.