Detailed review of Plasma 5

The much awaited Plasma 5 has been announced today, which marks a new chapter in the story of KDE software. Plasma 5 is the next generation desktop by the KDE community; it’s the evolution of KDE’s desktop which started taking a new shape with the release of ‘revolutionary’ KDE 4.0.

Plasma desktop uses the time-tested UI optimized for WIMP (windows, icons, menus and pointer) interface and with 5 it further improved that experience. A lot of work has gone in the code-base which makes the desktop sleeker and more polished. If you are thinking just think oh it’s just a different theme and new icons, it’s not true. Plasma 5 uses the brand new Frameworks 5 and Qt5 which not only improves user-experience but also allows developers to use KDE software in a manner not possible before.

So what’s new in Plasma 5? How does it matter to a ‘KDE’ users or a Linux user in general? I have been using Plasma 5 for a couple of days in Kubuntu and Arch Linux so I have a first hand experience of it on a ‘production’ machine. I also spoke with Aaron Seigo who helped me in understanding more about this release and the direction of KDE software.

Don't be fooled, a lot of work goes down there.
Don’t be fooled, a lot of work goes down there.

This release of Plasma also benefits from the approach of the KDE community to separate Frameworks, Applications and the Plasma desktop. What it means is that developers of each component can work on their code-base without having to worry about the one release date to ruin them all.

Nepomuk is gone, Baloo is here

To me it is extremely important to be able to search my desktop as I have a lot of stories, research material and of course multimedia files, which is scattered across 8TB storage on my system. In most cases I don’t even know which file is where so a good search is very important for me.

I am one of those users who had ‘love and hate’ relationship with KDE’s Nepomuk. It has some really great concept and ideas, but with time the code base was becoming older which would, obviously, impact the performance of a system.

That’s changing with Plasma 5 as Baloo has replaced Nepomuk as the default desktop search technology. It’s brand new code-base which is still using a lot of work that went into Nepomuk. It’s extremely fast, compared to Nepomuk, modern as well as gives much more control to a user.

Baloo configuration

Baloo one of the KDE goodies that can’t be beaten by any other desktop environment or operating systems, when it comes to control. You can access Baloo from ‘System Settings’, where it can be found as ‘Search’.

Baloo has replaced Nepomuk
Baloo has replaced Nepomuk


When you click on it the first option is ‘Plasma Search’ (cool name). Here you can disable the ‘type’ of stuff you don’t want to be indexed. You can open your bookmarks in the browser right from the menu, without having to go to the browser.

One of the biggest gripes I have with Gnome or Unity is image search. Unlike Unity Plasma Launcher (or Krunner) doesn’t display ‘nude’ or private images stored on your machine when you search for a file name; it just shows the name of files so even if you have an extremely private image of you and your partner you won’t have to worry about it popping up on the projector during a presentation or when you are giving a demo to a client.

The Second option is ‘File Search’ which enables you to select the folders you want or don’t want to be indexed by Baloo. By default it deselects all external drives, but you can easily manage what it can or can’t’ index.


Since Baloo is a completely new code-base it is extremely fast and efficient. No more slowing down your system when indexing your files, without making any compromise on how search is conducted on your system.

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