Latte Dock 0.5.91

One of the best things about KDE – and there are many – is the functionality contained within the panel. It works well horizontally stretched across the entire display, or as a small panel across half. It works well vertically, as well as floating in the middle. You can have more than one, and each one can be configured to do as much or as little as you want. But the default KDE panel can still feel a little utilitarian, partly because it's nothing like the panel in OS X. This is why there are perhaps so many panel replacements that look more like Apple's similar dock. Until now, there hasn't been a decent option for KDE users.

Latte Dock is the best alternative I've seen for KDE. Even in this early state, it's perfectly usable. And unlike most panel replacements, it's got a comprehensive set of configuration options that mimic much of what KDE's default panel does. By default, it will appear in the middle of your screen's bottom border when your pointer gets close. The icons for running applications appear and enlarge as you roll over these in beautifully animated transitions. The same happens when you open the configuration panel, which allows you to change the location of the panel and its alignment. You can place it anywhere and get the icons to center exactly as you wish. You can also control the transitions and zoom levels, as well as enable or disable the panel background and running application highlight modes. On a high DPI desktop, it looks absolutely fantastic. The SVG icons scale perfectly, and replacing the old KDE panel with this is a serious temptation, despite it not fully supporting functional applets like monitoring tools or desktop pagers.

Project Website

Drag and drop applications, and even Plasmoids, into this gorgeous panel replacement.

Cloud music player

Tizonia 0.7.0

Online streaming music services, even the ones you pay for, can be unrivaled portals to both new music and old. But you're often bound to the user interfaces provided by those services. Spotify doesn't do a bad job with its Linux client, but Google Music's woeful web interface doesn't even let you arrange your collections in any meaningful way, let alone let you arrange albums as you want them arranged. What's needed is a simple Linux tool that plays the music you want in the way you want – preferably from the command line.

This is what Tizonia does. It connects to one of its supported online streaming services and usually allows you to play specific playlists and songs, although features change slightly depending on the specific service you're using. It currently supports SoundCloud, Spotify, Google Music, Dirble, YouTube, and SHOUTcast, alongside local audio files, and credentials can be fed either through the command or a comprehensive set of configuration files. With credentials added, you then pass an argument to tell Tizonia which service you want to use, followed by the ID or name of the song, album, or playlist. Spotify currently only has playlist support, but if you've saved an album as a playlist you could play it by typing tizonia --spotify-playlist 'Terry Riley -- In C'. You will then hear your chosen music from the command line. This is of course useful on the desktop if you don't want to run a huge audio application or access a slow web portal, but it's even more useful on a small low-powered device perhaps connected to an amplifier. Simply start playback and use any MPRISv2-compatible remote control to handle playback without going back to the terminal.

Project Website

Rather than using ffmpeg, libav, gstreamer, or libvlc, Tizonia's playback is based on the OpenMAX IL 1.2 framework.

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