Hello openSUSE KDE users and contributors,
as you may know, the venerable and stable Plasma Workspace 4.x is nearing the end of its long-term support (LTS) period, with upstream committed to basically only fixing grave bugs and / or security issues. The openSUSE community KDE team has been following the development of the new desktop by KDE, Plasma 5 (backed by the KDE Frameworks 5 libraries), since its first 5.0 release, up to the point of running it ourselves. Our objective was to evaluate whether keeping the 4.x workspace as default desktop, or move towards adoption of 5.x.
This mail outlines the result of our evaluation.
==== Comparisons at a glance ====
Note: we are talking about the workspace ("the desktop") here. Applications are handled separately.
1. Keeping the current Plasma Workspaces 4.x
- Fairly stable technology - Good number of third-party widgets and extensions available (most also packaged) - Upstream committed to fixing grave bugs and security issues (i.e. it's not "abandonware") - Already integrated with openQA
- Long-term support period ends during Summer 2015 - Upstream unable to handle any other bugs than showstoppers or security issues: this means that medium and low priority issues will not get attention except for special circumstances - Current upstream maintainers don't develop on 4.x anymore, meaning a large time frame for bug fixes - As the underlying libs (kdelibs4) are feature-frozen since years, fixing some bugs can be problematic
2. Going for Plasma 5
- Actively developed upstream (3 month release cycles) - Based on KDE Frameworks 5 (under active development as well) - Incorporates a large number of features and adjustments that fix long- standing issues (e.g., power management, notifications, rendering...) - Some solutions (e.g. "look and feel packages") make customization for openSUSE easier (less patching) - Easier to push openSUSE fixes upstream (they can get reviewed easier) - Development team with solid commitment - Developed with new technologies (Wayland) in mind (note that it is *NOT* possible to run it under Wayland yet, but work is pretty active in this area) - New visual look
- New technology, not as tested - Qt5's QtQuick relies on openGL, exposing otherwise hidden rendering issues - Integration with openQA will likely need a lot of work - Less third-party widgets available (upstream dropped support for all but QML ones) - Some integration features (e.g. events within the calendar) are not available due to lack of ported libraries - Potential for some regressions - New visual look (some will love it, some will hate it)
==== Results of the evaluation ====
While Plasma 5.0 and 5.1 were not near the quality required for a default openSUSE desktop, 5.2 got very near said level, and we believe (running development code on our machines) that 5.3 will pass these requirements. Therefore our recommendation is to move towards Plasma 5 as the default openSUSE desktop, with version 5.3 or later (depending on the openSUSE schedule).
Additional mails will be sent in the next days with the details of the transition plan.
Luca Beltrame on behalf of the openSUSE community KDE team