Distros with KDE Plasma support


An offshoot of Arch Linux, Manjaro [4] comes in Gnome, MATE, and Plasma versions. The Plasma version resembles OpenMandriva with its emphasis on user-friendliness and accessible documentation. Moreover, since Manjaro has a rolling release, its Plasma version always has extremely current software. In addition, Manjaro frequently includes its own innovations, such as Jadesktop, an alternative desktop environment.

In general, Manjaro is a balance between Arch technology and desktop usability. Those who want to try Arch can use its CLI tools, such as its installer and pacman package manager. For those of us who have never managed to install Arch, easier graphical tools can be used that add minimally to the overhead memory required. Although Manjaro's Plasma version is less dedicated to KDE than OpenMandriva's, it remains a rare source of innovation among distros.


KaOS [5] is built with Plasma and Qt technologies to be a memory-efficient distribution. It succeeds at this, but sometimes at the cost of usability. For example, it arbitrarily places a panel on the right side of the desktop and places icons in alphabetical order, which is not always the most efficient display method. Sometimes, too, applications are listed by their name with no reference to their function. For instance, you can't tell that Yakuake is a command prompt until you start it. At times, KaOS feels different solely for the sake of being different.

All the same, KaOS is worth a look, if only to discover lesser known apps like the Falkon web browser and just how much Plasma can be customized, for looks as well as speed. Intriguingly, KaOS's Wikipedia mentions that the project is considering using the illumos operating system rather than the Linux kernel at some unspecified future date.


PCLinuxOS [6] began as a set of packages for Mandrake Linux and evolved into a fork in 2003. For this reason, it has always supported KDE and Plasma, although today it also includes Xfce and MATE editions. In particular, for years PCLinuxOS supported a version called FullMonty, which was a full KDE-oriented environment aimed at beginners.

An important feature of FullMonty was to create separate task-based sessions using virtual desktops: Internet, Office, Games, Multimedia, Graphics, and System. Each contained alternative apps. For instance, the Internet session might have icons for Firefox, Pale Moon, Chrome, Brave, and Midori. I mention FullMonty, even though it no longer exists, because it was almost certainly the inspiration for what Plasma calls Activities – an under-used but major advance on the Classic desktop. Although the current PCLinuxOS provides a comfortable desktop, anyone interested in Activities could see a very similar setup by downloading an older version of PCLinuxOS.

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