F42 Change Proposal: Fedora Plasma Workstation (System-Wide)

Fedora Plasma Workstation

This is a proposed Change for Fedora Linux.
This document represents a proposed Change. As part of the Changes process, proposals are publicly announced in order to receive community feedback. This proposal will only be implemented if approved by the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee.

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Announced

:link: Summary

Switch the default desktop experience for Workstation to KDE Plasma. The GNOME desktop is moved to a separate spin / edition, retaining release-blocking status.

:link: Owner

:link: Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora Linux 42
  • Last updated: 2024-04-01
  • [ devel thread]
  • FESCo issue:
  • Tracker bug:
  • Release notes tracker:

:link: Detailed Description

With the release of Plasma 6, KDE Plasma has developed into a high quality, well-regarded desktop experience.

:link: Improved end user experience

Plasma has been at the forefront of creating a cohesive desktop platform that empowers the user to have full ownership of their computing experience.

Plasma provides this approachable, highly-flexible, user-extensible experience with predictability across Plasma releases. Unlike other desktop experiences such as GNOME Shell, the APIs leveraged by Plasma applets / widgets have been more stable across “minor” Plasma releases, reducing long-term user frustration and promoting a healthier ecosystem for developers and users alike.

This extensibility additionally applies to the underlying window manager, KWin, with effects and scripts that provide both utility and personalization, such as:

  • Automatically blocking compositing for full screen applications
  • Fun effects such as window glitch and portals

Plasma provides a more traditional user experience that could be viewed as being more approachable to everyday computing users, serving as a smoother “on-ramp” to using Linux-based operating systems. Alongside its wide breadth of personalization capabilities, it provides an out-of-the-box desktop experience that is more predictable than some of its counterparts. As an example, Plasma provides a system tray for applications supporting StatusNotifierItem (e.g. Flameshot, OBS Studio, VPN clients), which is not functionality supported by default in GNOME Shell and requires an extension which may break between releases.

:link: Standardization support

The KDE community has a long heritage of collaborative standards development and supporting capabilities that application developers and users need for a productive experience.

KDE is heavily involved in the development of cross-desktop standards and tools that benefit the larger open source desktop community. From the XDG icon theme specification to D-Bus to StatusNotifierItems and Wayland protocols, KDE has been front and center for evolving the Linux desktop platform in a manner that benefits the wider community.

Many of the specifications and protocols in use today originate or are heavily influenced by KDE, and KDE has continued to be a bastion of innovation in a user-centric and community-centric manner.

Notably, the following recent Wayland protocols have been driven or influenced by KDE:

  • xdg-toplevel-drag (dragging tabs in and out of windows)
  • content-type
  • drm-lease (enable applications to selectively gain privileged display device access)
  • tearing-control (enable faster than display framerate refreshing, ie no “vsync lock”)
  • ext-idle-notify
  • xdg-activation (enable notifications to bring a window to the foreground on user activation)
  • xdg-decoration (server side decorations, derived from KDE’s protocol)

There are several upcoming protocols being driven by KDE as well, such as:

  • alpha-modifier (set alpha values for a surface)
  • ext-blur (enable blur effect underneath a surface)
  • xdg-toplevel-icon (enable applications to set window icons)
  • ext-placement (allow application window positioning)
  • window-id (consistent, uniform method window IDs)
  • xdg-pip (picture in picture overlays)
  • dbus-annotation (link D-Bus objects to surfaces)

This demonstrates that KDE works not to just enable new technologies and features for Plasma Wayland, but they also do it in a way that drives larger community adoption, success, and growth.

:link: Wayland support

KDE Plasma offers the most advanced Wayland desktop experience today, providing support for highly-demanded features, such as:

  • Fractional scaling
  • Color management
  • Variable Refresh Rate for capable displays
  • Support for optionally allowing legacy X11 applications to access desktop resources
  • Screensharing for legacy applications
  • Global shortcut support for legacy applications
  • Support for accessibility, including integration with the Orca screen reader
  • Support for AR/VR displays

:link: Industry support

KDE Plasma has been garnering wider industry support in consumer products over the last couple years. This includes various PINE64 products (PinePhones, PineBooks, etc.), the Steam Deck from Valve, and Tuxedo OS from Tuxedo Computers.

The Steam Deck in particular has brought the Linux desktop in the form of KDE Plasma to more people than ever before, through the desktop mode in SteamOS 3.x releases. As a result, Valve has heavily invested into KDE and its technology stack for mainstream usage. Game developers are also testing on KDE Plasma more often nowadays as part of SteamOS compatibility testing.

:link: Community Support

A number of Fedora downstreams have launched with KDE Plasma as the flagship experience or migrated to it over time. Notably Fedora Asahi Remix uses KDE Plasma as the flagship due to significantly better support and features for ARM based platforms and the hardware that Apple Silicon systems have. Nobara uses KDE Plasma as the flagship due to a high quality Wayland experience that supports gaming and game development well.

Developers of Linux XR applications and services already recommend using KDE Plasma to be able to leverage AR/VR experiences in a modern desktop.

Starting in 2025, KDE Plasma’s release cycle switches to a semi-annual cadence that lines up with Fedora Linux releases, enabling a tight interlock of development and integration between Fedora and KDE.

:link: Feedback

:link: Benefit to Fedora

  • Fedora Linux advertises and advocates for the most advanced Wayland desktop experience with broad community support and engagement.
  • We ship a desktop experience that supports the wide range of user needs and enables the experiences people expect from a modern desktop (HDR, VRR, VR gaming, HiDPI) and strives to support as many users as possible in a manner that results in positive engagement with the community.
  • We align the default Fedora workstation experience with what the larger PC ecosystem expects for a high quality desktop.

:link: Scope

  • Proposal owners: fedora-release: -kde subpackages get renamed to -workstation-kde. -workstation subpackages get renamed to -workstation-gnome.

  • Other developers: Fedora Plasma Workstation is added to the main landing page and promoted as the default desktop experience

  • Release engineering: 12043

  • Policies and guidelines: No, it would not required changes as it is already release-blocking.

  • Trademark approval: N/A (not needed for this Change)

  • Alignment with Community Initiatives: N/A

:link: Upgrade/compatibility impact

Existing Fedora Workstation systems will not be switched to KDE Plasma. This will only affect new installs of Fedora Workstation. Existing Fedora KDE installs will be upgraded to the Plasma Workstation branding.

:link: How To Test

As the fundamental experience is not changing in the existing KDE Plasma variant, users can try out the Fedora KDE spin to see what Fedora Plasma Workstation looks like.

:link: User Experience

The user experience does not change from the existing KDE Plasma variant. Existing Fedora Workstation users won’t see their experience change. New users of Fedora will get KDE Plasma instead of GNOME.

:link: Dependencies

N/A

:link: Contingency Plan

Retain the existing default GNOME experience for Fedora Workstation. Move Fedora Plasma Workstation back to spin branding.

:link: Documentation

Documentation would need to be updated to reference Plasma and point links to KDE rather than GNOME.

:link: Release Notes

Fedora Linux now offers a new default workstation experience as “Fedora Plasma Workstation” using KDE Plasma Desktop. This replaces the previous Fedora KDE Plasma spin. The previous “GNOME Shell”-based desktop experience can now be accessed through its dedicated Edition page.

38 Likes

Fully agree with all arguments made.

As a compromise, there could also be a selection screen in the installed (“Do you want Plasma or Gnome?”) similar to what OpenSUSE and Mageia have. But ideally Plasma would become the new Workstation.

6 Likes

Only for those wanting a KDE experience, which is not all of us for sure.

12 Likes

Was this proposed on April 1 by coincidence or by design?

18 Likes

Both KDE and Gnome are essentially the defacto experience that a new user coming to Linux is going to experience. Both are amazing in their own right, I’ve mostly been a Gnome guy for years now, but I’ve had a few machines with KDE before 6 and they were decent as well in different ways.

However, KDE6 is definitely not ready for prime time as the Fedora Workstation experience. On my main computer, I attempted to use KDE6 and it failed in basic things like gaming:

The bug that has been plaguing users on KDE6 which prevented mouse from working in games was widespread and in every group I’ve been a part of.

Here is one such thread: [General issue] Mouse stuck/unusable in games on Wayland · Issue #7564 · ValveSoftware/Proton · GitHub

There are many more with just a quick google.

It’s much easier to just assume it’s just a coincidence.

Edit: Fedora Workstation Gnome works out of the box, this Distro has a certain reputation and used by professions I know for work that not even Ubuntu has. Part of this I’m sure has to do with the fact that it uses Gnome, since it’s typically stable.

It just works for work, gaming, and anything else out of the box usually.

One major issue right away is Nvidia graphics support, especially for older cards. KWin does not support EGLStreams anymore, while Mutter still does.

3 Likes

Fedora offers this through the network installer (“Fedora Everything”), or you just choose the spin you want on the website.

FYI, EGLStreams is dead. Gnome is switching to GBM by default, iirc, and XWayland is removing their EGLStreams support completely.

7 Likes

Plasma provides this approachable, highly-flexible, user-extensible experience with predictability across Plasma releases. Unlike other desktop experiences such as GNOME Shell, the APIs leveraged by Plasma applets / widgets have been more stable across “minor” Plasma releases, reducing long-term user frustration and promoting a healthier ecosystem for developers and users alike.

My partner, and my a friend of mine, are both neurodivergent.

They have both used KDE Plasma, and they have both used GNOME.

They have both hated KDE for its complexity compared to GNOME, where they said “it just works” on GNOME.

GNOME UI and app design makes their computers easier to use in comparison to Windows.

My parents who are PC illiterate have a better time with GNOME because their skills from phones and tablets pass over.

KDE Plasma does not provide this in my experience.


KDE is great, a fast moving project like GNOME. But this proposal is too filled with what I see as fluff.

The premise of user choice without consideration of what users really want with a computer for example.

Furthermore, the extensions that KDE Plasma provides out of the box and is promoted? Seems to be an excellent attack vector: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/linux/kde-advises-extreme-caution-after-theme-wipes-linux-users-files/

11 Likes

I don’t know about that… my cousin installed Fedora with Gnome on my elderly aunt’s laptop (which came with Windows 7) and she was very confused about how to switch between windows as Gnome doesn’t have any kind of taskbar or dock - and also no way to have desktop icons for apps. On her Android phone she just presses the home button and then selects the app she wants, but this workflow isn’t very discoverable on Gnome (you need to teach about the Super key and explain how the overview screen works).

8 Likes

This is a great idea.

3 Likes

Just a headsup about this proposal: We are in no way proposing the removal of the Gnome Desktop Environment. This would only switch the default DE from Gnome to KDE.

As far as the ease of use and the like, I always compared Gnome and KDE as thus:

Gnome has a UI that is much more refined and ‘shizeled’ than KDE (i.e. It looks prettier and is generally more intuitive). But the whole experience is usually quite restrictive and narrow, and new technologies usually take much longer to be implemented in Gnome than it does in KDE.

KDE is at the forefront of many of the new technologies in Linux today (Not to quote the actual proposal, but that point’s actually true), and as far as I know, this is what I like about Fedora, we usually foster the use of new technologies.

In very simple terms, I always compare Gnome to MacOS, while I usually compare KDE to Windows (Minus all the bloat, ads, …).

But to be realistic, I wish this proposal would pass, but I am also realistic in the fact that it probably will not :slight_smile:

10 Likes

Well, the proposal of Issue #12043: F42 System-Wide Change: Fedora Plasma Workstation - releng - Pagure.io said:

We would need to update image generation to build Plasma as “Workstation KDE” and GNOME as “Workstation GNOME”.

A little different from here:

NO definitely not in favour of this AT ALL.

8 Likes

I choose Fedora because of Gnome, even when I have the possibility to install any other window-manager…

  • KDE is just to “Windows”-ish for me…
  • I don’t want to lay any icons on my desktop…
  • this GUI had it his time in the 90ies and 2000…

I know that Gnome will catch up the technical features of KDE Plasma!

10 Likes

Some thoughts not in any particular order.

Release schedule and support - Plasma and Gear (KDE’s apps) are on separate 3-month release cycles, along with a new release of Frameworks coming out every month, and KDE do not support older versions of their desktops or apps, while GNOME supports theirs for about a year, neatly matching up with the lifespan of each Fedora release.

KDE already receives several concessions from Fedora due to its importance: it is the only other release-blocking desktop and it is the only desktop that is allowed to have major version upgrades within a Fedora release because of their release schedule and lack of support for older versions of their platform, and this often causes complaints of regressions and new bugs that didn’t exist in the previous version.

Qt’s licensing is also a point of contention, especially the LTS versions, which aren’t released as open source for a year (the maximum allowed time by the KDE Free Qt Foundation contract). GTK does not have this issue at all.

The Standardisation and Wayland support sections are full of hyperbole. GNOME is involved in standardisation work across the entire Freedesktop ecosystem just as much as KDE is, and most major points in the Wayland section are either supported by GNOME right now or are being actively worked on.

Industry and Community support - every major LTS and commercial distro ships GNOME as default - Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL Workstation, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, even Oracle Solaris ships it. GNOME also receives significant development from the industry - Collabora, Igalia, Endless, Purism, and several others, and collaborates in several upstream projects - GStreamer (which KDE don’t seem interested in supporting at all), PipeWire, Systemd, Flatpak, so on, so forth.

Another major issue is polish. KDE lacks polish in several areas - SDDM isn’t integrated at all into the desktop experience, KScreenLocker* still has issues with randomly breaking, the whole Activities weirdness, the default theme isn’t very pleasing, the random friction in some parts of the experience - a context menu appearing when you drag something is one example. To be fair KDE have immensely improved the polish in their desktop, but they still have quite a long way to go.

I don’t want to accuse you of proposing this in bad faith but given your history within the GNOME project, this just seems like you want to drum up rage-bait articles against GNOME and Fedora. :confused: I hope that’s not the case.

With all this said I do want to see more love from Fedora to KDE. What happened to that proposal for Fedora to contribute some funding to KDE?

(Someone reported this post so now I have to edit it to unhide it? What?)

7 Likes

So I am not a fan of KDE, but I think the default should try to reflect what most people are using. Are there any statistics of the usage between gnome and KDE on fedora?

1 Like
  • I don’t want to lay any icons on my desktop…

You can not put any icons on the desktop, it’s your choice, but a choice is provided for those who want to do so.

  • this GUI had it his time in the 90ies and 2000…

It’s your personal opinion, it works for many.

3 Likes

I have to agree here. While I’d definitely love to see KDE Plasma as a first-class citizen, we should not be worsening the existing Gnome experience or moving away from it. People expect Workstation to be GNOME, so suddenly changing that is way too disruptive.

A nice compromise, which I’d totally like to see happening (even though I’m not a Plasma user), would be to make Workstation offer both GNOME and Plasma as different (but equal) flavours, instead of classing Plasma as a spin. Much like how OpenSUSE Tumbleweed gives you the option to choose between Gnome and Plasma during installation (not necessarily handled the same way).

The KDE spin’s already considered a release blocker and is arguably the best way of consuming Plasma available, so letting it get the recognition it deserves by sitting it alongside with GNOME could be an awesome idea.

It doesn’t seem right for me to put plasma in the same category as the other spins. They’re not release blocking, they’re not as well integrated with the OS and their maintenance isn’t as “assured” as KDE, both in the sense of packaging/integration and upstream development. The KDE spin is much closer to Workstation than any of the other spins, so calling it one gives the wrong impression.

We can live in a world where KDE is supported without “hurting” GNOME. Let’s make them equals, instead of knocking one for the sake of another.

16 Likes

You’re right, these are my opinions :wink:

I know that I don’t speak for all…