Plasma has all the pieces, but where is the glue?

KDE Plasma is among the most popular desktop environments, renowned for its flexibility, customizability, and modern appearance, excelling in these aspects.

However, in my recent experience with it, I found that while it has the potential to be arguably the best desktop environment, it hasn’t fully reached that point yet. As a UX Designer, I immediately noticed several interface and workflow details that conflict with a clear and concise user experience, creating unnecessary complexity for novice users or those like me coming from macOS or GNOME, which prioritize minimalism and ease of use.

I am a strong supporter of the KDE project and appreciate the freedom it grants users, enabling them to tailor their workflow to their preferences. This is evident in the fact that there’s a setting for virtually everything, which leads me to consider Plasma more as a framework than a traditional Desktop Environment. While advanced users may appreciate this, novices might feel overwhelmed and occasionally frustrated by details they find superfluous.

Recently, the Vanilla OS community began developing a version of Vanilla OS based on KDE Plasma, a project I am personally involved in. As a result, I’ve compiled a list of necessary improvements to ensure a straightforward experience for users who will choose this Vanilla OS edition. I’ve also chosen to publicly outline the issues I’ve encountered to encourage discussion and, hopefully, assist the KDE team in enhancing the final product. To this end, I’ve created a Figma document, which I will periodically update as I identify problems within various aspects of the desktop environment. This project is available here.

My intention is to support the KDE team, though I am offering my personal perspective without intending to disparage the team’s efforts. I hope to contribute to or at least spark constructive discussions for the project. I have recently joined their official Matrix channels to offer my assistance.

P.S. I am conducting my tests using KDE Neon Unstable with Plasma 6, which is not released yet. I’ll take care of updating the Figma project as soon as Plasma 6 is officially released, by revisiting the issues I’ve identified and checking if they’ve been addressed.