KDE 4.2 is the desktop we hoped for when version 4 was first announced.

Update KDE!

The latest release of the version 4-era desktop is the first to truly build on the foundation of the KDE 4 API rather than just fix holes in it. This means that developers have been able to add new features, rather than play catchup with the KDE 3.5 version.

Finally, after years of promises and delayed development, Plasma is becoming useful, and is beginning to deserve its place at the centre of the KDE universe. KDE 4.2 includes many new Plasmoid applets, and thanks to hundreds of bugfixes, they should remain relatively stable.

Small things, such as the desktop icons fading away as you resize the Folder View, or the Desktop Settings panel being sensibly renamed to 'Appearance' Settings, mean that the KDE team are finally looking at the desktop through a new user's eyes, and not just through their split-console, überfunctional power-user's installation.

Split your task manager

Now that many of us use a larger, wider desktop panel, KDE developers have added the ability to hold two rows of tasks in the task manager.

This is a great space-saving solution if your screen is on the smaller side, as it means you get a better overview of all the currently open windows on your desktop. Normally, window titles are truncated to just their icon, but with two rows, you have a better chance of finding the task you want to select.

To enable the extra rows, right-click on the task manager and open the Task Manager Settings window. This feature is also available as a separate Plasmoid for earlier KDE versions.

Our top three new plasmoids

1. Web Browser
As you might well have guessed from the name, this Plasmoid places a tiny web browser on to your desktop, complete with auto-update. Ideal for quick searches, getting the sports results and Twitter sites.

2. Paste Bin
This seemingly unimportant new Plasmoid is quite the opposite. Drag and drop images and text from your destop, and they're automatically uploaded to a remote server. Perfect for collaboration

3. Google Widgets
You can now add Google's own desktop Widgets to your KDE desktop, and you can even do this from within Plasma by selecting 'Google Gadgets' from the 'Install New Widgets' menu.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First published in Linux Format, Issue 116

Now read Building the KDE UserBase

Sign up for the free weekly TechRadar newsletter
Get tech news delivered straight to your inbox. Register for the free TechRadar newsletter and stay on top of the week's biggest stories and product releases. Sign up at http://www.techradar.com/register

Follow TechRadar on Twitter