Plasma 5.3 on opensuse Tumbleweed

After downloading the 20150515 snapshot of Tumbleweed, I tried an install late yesterday.  I finished up the tweaking and preliminary testing today.

Installing

The installation went quite smoothly.  As is my usual practice, I wrote the DVD installer iso to a USB flash drive, and installed with that.

The desktop selection page looked the same as ever.  It gave three choices (Gnome, KDE, Other), with the default being KDE.  That was a mild surprise.  I had guessed that they would change it to “Plasma 5”.  But, never mind, the KDE amounted to Plasma 5.

Later, on the software selection screens, there was a pattern for Plasma 5 and one for KDE.  Both were preselected, and were really there as parts of a Plasma 5 install.  I also selected Gnome, XFCE and LXDE, as is my usual practice.

The only issue that I had with the install, was in the boot setup section.  And it was the same problem that I mentioned in my previous install for May.  But I knew how to deal with that, so it did not pose a huge problem.

First looks

Booting into the newly installed system, I did a few tweaks.  Then I configured WiFi.  And then I started to configure the desktop to my liking.

SDDM

Login used “sddm”.  That appears to be the new default display manager login GUI for KDE installs.  And because I also installed Gnome and XFCE, both “gdm” and “lightdm” were installed.

I used “sddm” without problems to login to “icewm” and to “Plasma 5”.  But it failed when I tried to login to Gnome.  The “sddm” screen just hung, waiting for Gnome to start up.  But it never started.  I aborted with CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE.  I then switched to “lightdm” which has been working fine for me (including a test login to Gnome).

Konsole

If “konsole” is used, and then your session with “konsole” is restored on a new login, “konsole” crashes.  There is a bug fix for this in the works, so it should soon be resolved.

Session restore

The default is to save your session on logout, and restore that at the next login.  It does not work properly.  My preference is to set it to always restore a saved session.  And that does not work properly either.

The problem, in both cases, is that all saved windows are restored to desktop 1, and their positioning on the screen is not remembered.

There’s an additional problem that I saw, with changing to restoring a saved session.  After making that change, there was no way to save a session to be restored.  I had to logout, then login again before I could save a session.  But now that I have taken those steps it is working pretty well except for the restored window location.

Personally, I mainly want to restore a terminal window.  So because of the restore location problem and the “konsole” problem, I am now using “xterm” for that.  I can specify the window location with the “-geom” option to “xterm”, and that is honored though it is still restored only to desktop 1.

Touchpad

When I got into the touchpad settings with the “input devices” configuration, it told me “No touchpad found”.  That’s a problem.  Following a suggestion at the opensuse forums, I installed “synaptiks”.  And that allowed me to control the touchpad once again.  I mostly want to disable it if there is a USB mouse plugged in.

Default applications

I attempted to change the default browser from “firefox” to “konqueror”.  I did this by checking the box to use an application based on the type of data.  Unfortunately, the change did not stick.  It immediately went back to “firefox”.

Menu system

With KDE 4, there is a nice structured menu system.  If I select “system”, then there is a subfolder for “terminals”.  This arrangement makes it easy to find applications via the menus.

Unfortunately, that is gone with Plasma 5.  The subfolders are not there.  If I select “system”, then I get a screen dump showing more application names than I care to read through.  For me, this is the worst defect in Plasma 5.

Activities

The activities manager is in a different place.  It seems that my installed system had only a single predefined activity, named “Default”.  I added a second activity with Folder View style, and named that “Icons”.  Setting up a new activity was quite straightforward.  I have noticed, however, that switching activities somewhat buggy.  I sometimes see the applications from one activity and the wallpaper from the other.  (I seem to remember that happening in the early releases of KDE4).

Overall assessment

Plasma 5 still has a few quirks, compared to KDE4.  But, overall, it is reasonably congenial.  For me, the change in the menus is the worst of the problems that I have mentioned above.  That seems to be a decision at “opensuse.org” rather than one at “kde.org”.  I hope they change their minds.

I have yet to test other applications.  I’ll be doing that over the next few days.  And a note on “NetworkManager” — I actually setup the home WiFi settings in “icewm” using “nm-applet” (the Gnome tool).  So I have not yet tried setting up a network connection within Plasma 5.  The connection setup with “nm-applet” does continue to work while logged into Plasma 5.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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