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KDE Plasma Active: the Mobile Interface That Works 70

jrepin writes "Bruce Byfield is not a fan of interfaces for mobile devices. At best, he finds them clumsy makeshifts, tolerable only because nothing better is available. The only exception is KDE's Plasma Active, which not only works well on tablets, but, with its recently released version 3.0, remains the only mobile-inspired interface he can tolerate on a workstation."
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KDE Plasma Active: the Mobile Interface That Works

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  • Looks interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xkpe ( 1842034 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:32AM (#41841313)
    Looking at the video it has some interesting concepts to make it more usable on touch devices, but to some point they still rely in rather small buttons that are hard to touch.
    It also seems very slow but it might be a debug version.
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:33AM (#41841331)

    The wall-o-text of TFA doesn't even have pics, and I barely noticed the link to the project
      Plasma Active []

    • by Shag ( 3737 )

      Yeah, link to the Plasma Active page to remind me that the Seamonkey project obviously hasn't gotten Mozilla's latest rendering engine, since in Seamonkey, the Plasma Active page lays out like something a dog threw up. Thanks for designing to fall back gracefully on browsers that don't support whatever bleeding-edge features you're using, guys. ;) /actual captcha word: disgust

      • The homepage renders fine for me in Seamonkey 2.3.3. The only noticeable difference between it and Firefox 15.0.1 or Chrome 22.0.1229.94m on Windows is that it displays with a sans-serif font instead of a serif font. Are you looking at something other than the homepage, or did they maybe fix it after your post?

        • I meant to mention that I'm running Seamonkey on Linux.

        • by Shag ( 3737 )

          My bad - turned out they're using some scripting for layout, and I had NoScript active. So NoScript was what made everything end up piled on top of each other.

          Thanks, by the way, for the reply, which goaded me into actually investigating!

          I switched to Chrome (which also offers multiple-profile support) anyway... ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:40AM (#41841379)

    Can we please quit trying to make a superstar common interface that works with both touchscreens and keyboard/mouse?

    The result is always bad interfaces for one or both. There is no way around this, except to have two different interfaces.

    • by Shinmera ( 2514940 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:45AM (#41841431) Homepage
      Which this is. KDE Plasma Active is not the same as the default desktop KDE. It uses the same libraries and corer, but is a different interface. I don't see a problem with this at all.
      • From an app dev's point of view, are they different? I don't really understand the levels of abstraction involved here, since I've only done stuff like Java that deals with it itself, or console apps.

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      Both Plasma Active and to some degree, Android are modal. It's the same user interface with different contextual modes for input. Plasma does this much better from what I've seen.

      Doing it exclusively poorly (such as in W8) is much more of a Microsoft innovation than it's endemic to the concept.

  • Long-time KDE user (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Lately I've been trying to find how I can get one of the available tablets to run KDE. After going through all the disruption of the early KDE 4 releases, I'm glad to see things settle out and be usable. For the whole time I've been hearing about Windows 8 and its "do things the same way on the desktop and the laptop", I've been thinking of how well KDE has managed NOT to screw this up--and be in the game much earlier than Microsoft. Now I'm ready to try KDE Plasma Active on a tablet!

    • The Nexus 7 can now run Ubuntu ... has anyone tried installing anything other than the default desktop?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, a few people have, in the last days, installed Plasma Active packages (based off of Kubuntu) onto it, see this photo:

        It's much better suited, input wise, than the Unity shell, which, for example, heavily relies on right mouse button actions, and also scrolling seems mostly broken. ( for a more detailed list). The input problems are being fixed just by the Plasma Active shell and apps, so if they get all the driver-level proble

  • Tablets (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nobody uses them anymore.
    This is the post-tablet era, everyone is moving back to laptops.

  • by mattr ( 78516 )

    What about Enlightenment? Post from yesterday, TFA says it can work on mobile too.

    • It would have to. E17 is the widget set specified in Tizen, and its development is heavily funded by Samsung.

  • by oic0 ( 1864384 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:07AM (#41841621)
    What is this? radio? just show us some pictures of it and let us come to our own conclusions instead of telling us what we should think lol.
  • I watched the video at [] and it's not very different then Android (ICS) and its resizable widgets. If I'm wrong, please, point me the differences, or why KDE (which I'm a big fan) on mobile is so better than current alternatives.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:34AM (#41841925)

      The design is completely different from ICS. Yes, there are resizable widgets on both, but that's where the similarities end.

      Instead of a highly modal menu based system, Plasma Active provides an always-available "peek and launch" area by dragging down the top panel which lets you see all your running applications as well as launch new ones. There is an emphasis on avoiding the modal menu labyrinth that pretty much defines the Android interface. This works more or less on phones, but really falls down on other sorts of devices.

      At the center of Plasma Active are activities, which lets you switch your device quickly from being focused on, say, a work or school project to planning a social event. There was a recent email on the devel list from a user who uses activities when travelling, for instance; it lets him keep maps, notes, documents and people relevant to the trip together in one place and with a flick of the finger he can switch to this very focused set of information.

      ICS makes a tablet a great application launcher and occasional widget viewer. Plasma Active makes a tablet a reflection of your interests and activities.

      Try it and you'll quickly see what it is capable of ...

    • This really doesn't demonstrate using the same interface transparently across a desktop and a tablet.

      Unless it's one of those vertically mounted tablets that normally comes with an attached keyboard and mouse (i.e. a touchscreen PC or laptop), it's really pretty uninteresting as far as the tablet video information goes.

      Please provide a video of doing exactly the same things on a standard (non-touchscreen) desktop using a mouse.

  • by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:51AM (#41842079)
    WebOS has an elegant interface that in terms of UI/UX puts Android (even Jelly Bean) to shame. Its problems were two-fold: 1) underpowered hardware that didn't showcase the software stack effectively; and 2) lack of developer courtship from Palm and later HP. Hopefully the open-sourcing will rectify these points. In comparison to WebOS and iOS, Android is the ugly, freckly ginger stepchild. I think people willingly overlook its flaws because of the relatively decent hardware it tends to run on.
    • by lkcl ( 517947 )

      yeah i checked out the WebOS source code: there's no phone application, and no infrastructure for supporting phone modems, so you cannot even write a phone app because there's no libraries to call through to the hardware. they're "working on" replacing the bluetooth stack - it's like... huh? they've gone back to square one. the whole point of this eco-system is to bring a *solution* to the table, not *part* of a solution that would take 10 man-years for the free software community to make use of it! tha

      • Maybe they can use the HAL from Meego and mash something together. Who knows.... All I know is Android needs a viable, open competitor to keep Google on their toes -- so scratch Windows Phone and iOS. Too bad Nokia completely fumbled the Symbian ball.
  • What tablets currently support this? I might be willing to give it a shot on the Nexus 10 if it works, and if it's possible to back up the configuration beforehand and restore to factory if I don't like it. Linux is generally terrible at font rendering, but a high-DPI display like on the Nexus 10 might help circumvent this.

    Do web browsers under Plasma Active support the same kind of pinch-to-zoom features that are standard on portable devices?

    • Can't say anything about Nexus10 support, but the webbrowser, it does support pinch-to-zoom. (I think it's also shown in the demo video.)

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.