For those looking forward to the next-gen incarnation of the KDE Plasma Desktop, the first release of Plasma 5 has now arrived. A polished up UI, new default desktop theme and high-DPI support are some of the big obvious changes while still managing to maintain the traditional design and workflow.
The announcement, made on kde.org, goes on to say that the traditional KDE desktop design has remained much the same as
"(they) know you like your desktop and have no desire to change it."
However, while a traditional look and feel is retained, the new theming and new hardware-accelerated graphics stack with Qt5's QtQuick promises a much smoother user experience while freeing up resources. The new theme, known as "Breeze", has been created seemingly inspired heavily by modern flat UI design, focusing on the use of great typography and more flat, simple contrasting colours compared to it's predecessor.
Another notable feature to mention about Plasma 5: convergence! It's a popular buzz-word lately and everyone wants to get in on the convergence game. KDE.org reports that the new Plasma shell is
"converged" and able to change the user experience on-demand, such as when a keyboard and mouse is plugged in or when it detects that device is touchscreen capable.
Other improvements such as a new lock screen and improvements to the notification area to be less jarring and busy are also included in the new Plasma 5. Of course, while a lot of these changes are visual, most of the changes and improvements are under-the-hood, such as the aforementioned new graphics stack and migration of Plasma components to QtQuick.
Trying out Plasma 5.0
While this is the first official release of the new Plasma interface, you must remember that it is still in heavy development and still aimed at enthusiasts and developers at this stage. There will be bugs and certain features lacking, but this is to be expected at this point of the release.
Distributions such as Arch Linux, Gentoo, Kubuntu and openSUSE already provide easy ways to install the new Plasma from KDE Frameworks 5 repositories, although the simplest way to try it out would be to download the "Neon 5 ISO".
For more information and instructions on obtaining the packages for your distribution, please see the "Installing and providing feedback" section of the KDE Plasma 5 Announcement page.