Today, the Chakra team has announced the availability of a new version of their Linux distributions. This is the first release of the Chakra Descartes series which will follow KDE point releases( 4.13.1 for the moment ). The new version features new artwork ( more screenshots HERE) which improves many aspects of the operating system.
One interesting feature implemented by the developers allows you to disable the Baloo search, but in the release announcement it’s suggested that the feature should be kept enabled.
Drivers shipped with the new release:
Users of AMD graphics cards older than the 5000 series will not be able to use Catalyst Legacy as it is not compatible with the latest X server. In the official announcement users are advised to use the xf86-video-ati which was improved in the last few versions.
This latest version of Chakra also includes:
From my past experiences Chakra was very stable and fast. I will test this new versions in the coming days and share the findings.
If you want to try Chakra for yourself you can download the version from HERE, but you should know that only a x64 version is available.
The KDE community is working hard on the next major release of KDE software, most notably Framework 5 and Plasma Next. While Arch users can already play with KDE Framework 5 packages via extra repository and also run some components of Plasma Next via kde-unstable repo (which already has KWin), rest of those who can’t get Arch to work (though we have a very user-friendly tutorial), they can get a preview of Plasma Next using the live image of Fedora.
Daniel Vrátil, a Red Hat developer, says, “First, our Copr repository with KDE Frameworks has been updated to 4.99.0 release, so go get it! All frameworks are co-installable with KDE 4, so you can develop against KF5 without needing any special setup. Also KDE Frameworks 5 were approved as feature for Fedora 21, which means that in next Fedora release, we will ship all Frameworks in the Fedora repositories! There are already some packages imported into rawhide, the rest will follow in next weeks.”
So what all will you get to see? Daniel says they “packaged as much as we could (but still not everything!), including Rekonq, Dolphin, System Settings, Baloo, Milou and more – all built against Qt 5 and KDE Frameworks 5 of course.”
He are some screenshots of Plasma Next running in VM on my system:
If you want to test Plasma Next, download the live iso of Fedora from the link below.
[epiclink link = ‘http://dvratil.fedorapeople.org/kde5/iso/’ color = ‘btn’ target = ‘_blank’ shorticon = ‘left’ itype = ‘ icon-download-alt’ icol = ‘black’ ]Fedora Plasma Next Preview[/epiclink]
A lot of exciting things are happening in KDE Plasma Next right now. Readers of Muktware may have already read that the beautiful font Oxygen is being packaged and used as the default font and a new icon theme from Nitrux to beautify the desktop is right on time. Developer Sebastian Kügler updated today that there are changes around locale too. Locales are of extreme importance as users from different geographies prefer maximum familiarity on their system.
Locale support has improved a lot in Qt5. It’s in a state where dependencies on KLocale can be satisfied by QLocale. Choosing only QLocale also means less duplication of code and API, more compatibility among applications, less interdependencies between libraries and a smaller footprint.
Plasma has already made this transition to QLocale. And with it comes a lot more controlled locale settings with respect to Pasma 4.x. Sebastian explains the issue – “In Plasma 4.x, the settings were very much based on either using a common setting and overriding specific properties of that in great detail. You could, for example, specify the decimal separator as a string. This allows a lot of control, but it’s also easy to get wrong. It also does not cover all necessary cases, as the Locale is much more subtle than can be expressed in a bunch of input boxes.”
QLocale doesn’t allow a set of specific properties for outside users. Based on QLocale, the Formats settings UI will allow the user to select a regional/language setting per “topic”. For example, if the user selects “Netherlands” for currency, and United States for time, the currency will be in Euros but the time will display with AM/PM. The UI will effectively use a region and language combination rather than overriding locale internals. The following image makes the concept clearer.
There are a number of advantages to this. The intention is to make apps obey the locale settings set by systemsettings. This can be done by exporting locale related variables as per POSIX standards. If the user configures the locale in systemsettings, these variables will be exported for the apps running in the session post the next login. If the user doesn’t configure locale, system defaults are used. QLocale handles the variables correctly. And applicaitons not using QLocale will also pick up the right settings. This essentially means that irrespective of the session, GNOME or LXDE, all apps will follow the correct locale settings whether they are Qt or KDE applications.
Developer Andrea Scarpino announced the availability of KDE Frameworks 5 packages for Arch Linux. Currently the packages are available in the extra repository of Arch.
Users can install the under-development version of KDE Frameworks 5 side by side with KDE 4 from the Beta 2 stage. To make this possible the packages are installed under /usr instead of /opt/kf5 as it used to be on the Arch User Repository (AUR) previously. Till date the only exception was the kactivities component because both KDE Frameworks and KDE 4 ship a kactivitymanagerd binary. To make them co-install now both the packages from KDE4 and KDE Frameworks install a kactivities virtual package on the same system under the /usr directory. The packages are grouped into two parts: kf5 and kf5-aids (PortingAids).
With this in place Andrea hopes that the Plasma Next packages will follow soon. However they will go in the kde-unstable repository. To make them co-installable their prefix will be /opt/kf5. KWin is already available in kde-unstable.
To install the KDE Frameworks libraries, run:
# pacman -S kf5 kf5-aids
To install Plasma Next components like KWin, run the following:
KDE’s Plasma is one of those few desktops which offer extreme cutomization, giving a user full control over the system. Those who complain that the default icon sets have not changed for ages need to understand that art & design need heavy investment (good designers are expensive) and you can’t expect new icon theme with each release – look at Android, iOS or Mac OSX. iOS just got an icon theme reboot which got mixed reviews from users.
If you are a Plasma user, Kmail is the default email client. Kmail is a great KDE Application, however when compared to other email clients like Evolution (for GNOM) or platform agnostic Thunderbird. Setting up emails accounts with Kmail can be a bit challenging and this tutorial aims to make it easier for you to use Kmail on your Plasma system.
How to configure KMail
In order to add a new email account to KMail, go to ‘Tools > Account Wizard’. The first window will ask you to enter personal details.
If you are using Gmail then it will offer imap or pop3 settings and you can simply hit the ‘create’ account button and then hit Finish.
That’s it, the account is added to KMail, but we are not done yet. KMail needs something it calls “Identity” which will be associated with that email account. If you don’t create an identity, you won’t be able to send any emails as the ‘from’ field will not show any email ID and KMail will throw error at you.
How to create an Identity
Go to Settings > Configure KMail and you will see ‘Manage Identities’ option. First option is that of ‘Identities.’ Click on ‘Add’ button from the right panel.
In the “New Identity” window give a name to that idenity (it’s not the name that will appear in reciever’s inbox). Since it will show up in the ‘from’ field, make ensure that it’s unique (in case you are going to configure more than one email ID). Click Next.
You will now wee the ‘General’ field, enter Your Name, Organization and email address.
Now go to the ‘Advanced’ tab and check the ‘Outgoing Email’ box. Here you can select the email account you want to use to send out emails.
Click on OK and you are done. Now when you will send an email you will see the newly created ‘Identity’ in the ‘from’ option.
Setting up second email account
In the previous example we set-up an account which was on gmail. Now we are going to set up an email account which has a custom domain, such as muktware.com. Go to Tools > Account Wizard as explained above.
– Enter account details
– Select Generic IMAP Email server (IMG2)
– It doesn’t take the server configs (as it does when you use a ‘gmail’ account, even if I am using Google Apps for this account). Enter the incoming and outgoing server names – in this case since I am using Google Apps I enterd imap.gmail.com and smtp.gmail.com.
– It will set-up the account.
– Hit Finish when done.
A little bit of kleaning
The newly added account will start appearing on the left panel of KMail but it won’t be called Swapnil Bhartiya, instead it will have some crazy name like “IMAP Account 1″ name. I don’t know why KMail does it but we can fix that.
While you can rename it by right clicking on it and selecting properties, but since we have to configure ‘Identity’ either way, let’s do properly. I would like to repeat – keep in mind that even if you have added an account you won’t be able to send out any emails unless you create the identity for that account.
Let’s create identity for this account. Go to Settings > Configure KMail. Here you will see an identity already created for you (I noticed it happens only if you are using a custom domain, no identity gets created if you are using Gmail.com). This identity, for some reason, is being set as the ‘default’ account.
If you click on ‘Modify’ to see which outgoing account is associated with this Identity you will notice ‘generic’ ‘smtp.gmail.com’ showing up there, instead of the email ID for that account. This can be confusing (and often harmful if you are using multiple email accounts. I once ended up sending out professional emails from my extremely private account because the identity was not configured properly). So let’s fix that.
Go to Accounts where you will see two tabs – Receiving and Sending. Select the account in question and click on ‘Modify’ in the Receiving option and change the name to what you want.
Now go to the ‘Sending’ tab and select the ‘smtp.gmail.com’ account and hit ‘Modify’.
Unlike ‘Receiving’ option, here there is no option to ‘rename’ it. But there is more than just renaming. Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab and you will notice wrong port, even if encryption is SSL. It’s interesting that if you select None and then again change it to SSL, the port with change to 465, (IMG 10)which is correct. Click OK, now you are back to the old window. Since there was no option to rename the account name in ‘Modify’ window, you have to select the account in ‘Sending’ tab and then choose ‘rename’ option.
Your account is configured and you are good to go. You can add as many accounts as you want.
It can be better
KMail makes it look like configuring email client is rocket science, which is not true if you have used Thunderbird, Evolution of Apple Mail client. KMail’s extremely complicated configuration makes it hard for advocates like me to suggest it to users.
I have some suggestions for KMail developers. I think KMail developers should bring core tools under one menu items instead of splitting them between ‘Tools’ and ‘Settings. It will be much easier if the option to create new account is moved under “File > New > Email account. When one creates an account there should be the option identity should be created then and there. It could simply be the email ID itself as there seems to be no other purpose of the identity. Then instead of ‘IMAP Account X’, the email ID (as it will be unique if you are using multiple accounts) can be used to show that account in the left side panel of KMail. When one configures an account, the wizard should also create an entry in KAddressbook or Kontact so contacts, Notes, Calendar and other such components are automatically configured for that account. Currently you have to add accounts to each component manually which is quite painful and intimidating for a new user.
I hope KDE Application developers will pay attention to this article and make it easier to use KMail. It’s a perfect companion to the beautiful Plasma Desktop.
Developer Sebastian Kügler posted about packaging Oxygen as the default font with KDE Pasma Next in his blog. The intention is to provide a common look and feel to the users across distributions. “Fonts matter a lot, since they determine how readable the UI is, but also what impression it gives”, Sebastian writes.
Till date Plasma has honoured the font settings of the distro and used it for rendering fonts. This poses many problems which Sebastian has discussed in details.
Font rendering is often sub-optimal and Plasma never had any substantial control on how fonts are going to look for the users.
The size of many widgets depend on the font as they adjust depending on the space required to fit text. The problem increases with translated versions of the text. Sebastian explains that Plasma relies on sensible font settings and metrics for better support of HDPI displays. There is a stronger emphasis on fontsize-as-rendered-on-a-given screen. The UIs are designed to fit a certain number of columns and rows of text with ample dynamic spacing, so that even translations fit well. The size of the UI elements are roughly the same size on different displays. This design seems to be received well by the users.
The font should provide correct information about its sizing because the UI relies on the font metrics. However, this is not true in practice. Many fonts do not provide the information correctly leading to oversized and undersized UIs and hence glaring visual and usability issues.
To overcome these problems and retain more control on how the defaults look, the Plasma Next team decided to include the Oxygen font and use it as default on new installs. They are also defaulting to certain renderer settings so the fonts look as smooth as possible on most screens. Along with the technical issues this also adds to the aesthetics. “With this setup, we feel it’s going to look just right”.
The Oxygen font is created by Vernon Adams and is released under the SIL Open Font License. It has been created under Google and is a beautiful, modern, simple and clean typeface. Optimized for rendering with Freetype, it targets web browsers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices.
This has been a lingering problem for Plasma and Sebastian is glad that the issue is fixed eventually. This is just going to be the default font and can be changed anytime. Users who prefer some other font can always change it from the font selection in systemsettings.
Kdenlive 0.9.8 is announced with bug fixes and minor changes. There are no overwhelming features or changes in this snapshot as the developers mainly focused on stability of the popular video editor.
It’s good to see the popular KDE based video editor gradually back in regular development pace. The leader Jean-Baptiste Mardelle went AWOL in early July 2013 and development almost ceased. He returned a couple of months back and Kdenlive was picking up slowly since then.
Back to the 0.9.8 release. Developer vpnon has stressed the fact that though it is generally assumed that users do not use development snapshots much and stick to the latest release, the project’s bug-tracker shows bugs reported on 0.9.6 as well. Users were waiting for an upgrade and 0.9.8 is the one.
There are no big changes or fixes in 0.9.8. Changes include:
– Fades: timeline shortcut now applies to video on clips containing video and audio
– Copy proxies with ‘move project’
– Remove the MLT processing threads option that never really worked
– Clean encoding profiles using MLT presets and profiles
– Support a custom suffix for FFmpeg binaries (mostly for packagers)
– Make audio align work asynchronously
– Add support for JogShuttle on newer systems, make shuttle device selection more straightforward, add ProV2 keys
– Fix warnings from gcc, cppcheck, clang, scan-build: fixes many crashs & leaks
– Code cleanup (use const ref, fix includes, mem leaks, optimize…)
– Fix keyframing messed up for some effects
– Fix timeline corruption when trying to move clip before 0
– Fix crash when closing title widget
– Fix thumbnails for image clips in timeline
– Fix crash on quick undo/redo
– Fix multithreading
– Fix some problems with transitions keyframes
– Fix scopes
Here’s your chance to see your favorite snap beautifying the next release of KDE Plasma! KDE’s Visual Design Group (VDG) announced a wallpaper competition for its next release of Plasma and submissions are live for the entire month of May 2014.
The primary sorting of submissions will be done by a 3-person team of the VDG group and subsequently put to a open vote from the entire community. The competition expects high quality submissions suitable for a distribution release. A DeviantArt group named the VisualDesignGroup will be maintained for the entries. Existing DeviantArt users can request to join the group. Others can post their submissions in the Forum thread and it will be re-posted in the group.
It is mandatory that the submissions are under any of the CC-BY-SA 3.0, GPL v2 or GPL 3 licences. The theme is “The Bright Future”. The three winners will get a copy of the book “Design Elements: a graphics style manual“.
KDE also welcomes suggestions for the old shutdown dialog which they plan to change.
Make sure that you submit the best you got as nothing will be chosen if no wallpaper passes the high standards and expectations set for the competition.