March 29, 2018

The Case For Making A KDE Neon "Maximum Plasma" Edition

Having been a KDE user since 2010, and a Neon user since it's inception, I've grown to appreciate how sparse Neon is after install. Like a fresh canvas or a newly-plowed field, Neon lets you do things they way you want to do them. Firefox is there and a few others necessary to function a little beyond the command line. But really, there's no other assumptions made as to what you should do with your newly-minted Neon system, or the tools you should use to go about doing it.

This is why the Neon team likes to say Neon is not a distribution. And they have a point, in a technical sense at least. Users are used to distributions making a lot of decisions for them. And this usually involves throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at them. Among the 100's of distros out there, many are separated only by a few application decisions. Chromium instead of Firefox? Sure. Gnome Media Player instead of VLC? We can do that for you, Madam. Fork almost every main computer function and put your own name on it? Well, if it works for Linux Mint, it will likely be OK for you as well.

On the other hand, we keep a running monthly list here on K*Digest! about the top 5 pure KDE Plasma distributions out there at any given time, so do be sure to check it out for further examples.  

KDE Plasma 5.12
Plasma 5.12 in all it's customized glory

Neon is different, of course. Only want to use Neon for work? Fine. Install Calligra or Libre Office and an email client and go. Want to user it for video production? KDEnlive is there - or Openshot. Hey, we don't judge, go for it. Using Neon to make a sexy gaming rig? All of the games available from Ubuntu, KDE, Steam, PlayDeb, and more are available. Haver at it. That's what makes Neon so good for knowledgeable users - the ability to mold and shape into whatever use-cases you'll ever run into, without the bloat of having so many applications already installed and those assumptions made for you. A totally blank canvas.

Another thing the Neon devs do an outstanding job of is making up-to-date KDE applications available to it's loyal users. Whether it's Calligra Office Suite, KMyMoney, Kaffeine video player, or KDE  PIM, the latest and greatest that the KDE Community has to offer is made available to you, with only a few "apt" commands, or firing-up Discover (or the recently-updated Muon Package Manager).   

And that brings me to the point of this article.

The need for a "Maximum Plasma" edition

Call it what you want (and name suggestions are certainly welcome!)

- Maximum Plasma Edition 
- All-In Edition
- Much Too Much Plasma On My Hands Edition
- Everything and the Kitchen Sink Edition

Flag of KDE Neon Wallpaper
A candidate for a Maximum Plasma Edition Wallpaper?

Whatever the nomenclature used, I would like to suggest the friendly developers over at KDE Neon make periodic releases of KDE Neon that showcase every application they've released within the Neon repositories. And honestly - I bet even most Neon users don't know this - it's quite a lot. Don't believe me? Fire up Muon Package Manager, Synaptic, or whatever graphical package manager you use. Then filter packages by source, selecting KDE Neon as the source shown. That's a lot of packages, I must say.

KDE Muon Package Manager
Using Muon to filter KDE Neon packages

Now I will note that for the purposes of clarity, it wouldn't have to be the Neon team that brought forth a release like this. Chakra Linux, for example, might be a good fit. It could be any other distribution out there. I'm using Neon here for arguement's sake that the Neon team would be the most likely to do such a thing. And to me makes a lot of sense. Anyone else who would be excited to do this, feel free! You see, in this (for now imaginary) distribution, it's all about Plasma discovery, after all.

My thought   process goes something like this:

"Well, Calligra Words seems like it could be a great word processor, and might handle my different file formats really great. I'd much rather use a KDE application than not, so let's give it a try. We could always install Libre Office if it doesn't quite cut it."

The potential here is that we just gained a Calligra fan! Get enough of those, and cause and effect kick in and - guess what? - we get more Calligra contributors! It's an exponential win-win. Another example could be that a Plasma user who has used Quicken for money management for years maybe has known that a KDE app like KMyMoney existed, but who has time to install and play? Well, in my mind, a user who could just fire-up KMyMoney and read from a tool tip about how easy it is to import a Quicken file with just a few mouse clicks, might just do exactly that! Again, #winning.

KDE Calligra logo grahic

I'm talking nothing but Plasma applications here. If it's not Plasma, throw it out. Simple. A list that comes to mind but is not at all all-inclusve would go something like this:
  • Falkon Web Browser
  • Babe Music Player
  • Calligra Office Suite
  • Kaffine Video Player (the only KDE player updated to Plasma 5)
  • KDE Partition Manager
  • KBackup (Coming standard in Plasma 5.13, but still)
  • KGet
  • Full Kontact PIM Suite
  • the Plasma-Widgets-Addons package
  • KDE Games
  • KMyMoney
  • Konverstaion
  • KTorrent
  • DigiKam
  • Krita
  • Muon Package Manager
  • Yakuake
  • Kexi
  • KFind
  • KUser
  • And others I can't think of at the moment

You get the idea. If it's a KDE application and built for Plasma 5, and in the Neon repositories, it should be there. This way, we get more users - and more users of the good kind; the curious kind. The kind more likely to possibly join the KDE Community and contribute one day. This, my friends, excites me. So much so that I really think this should exist. A hallmark distro (or non-distro, if you must) that showcases everything KDE and it's community have to offer at that point in time.  People can install it, fire it up in a VM, run a live session, whatever. More exposure. More people. More contributors and community members. More donators. More excitement from the press. More overall goodness.

Plasma All The Things[TM].  Yea, that will work.


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