KDE Plasma Mobile – Initial thoughts and basic review

Hi everyone!

It has recently come to my attention that KDE Plasma Mobile, a project I have been following for over a year, has just been released as alpha! They wanted some testers, so I thought I’d help, and why not do a video review at the same time?

UPDATE: It turns out a lot of the glitches you’re about to see are in fact because of VirtualBox’s bad support for Wayland. They are not Plasma Mobile’s fault.

Video review

There’s a brief write up below as well if you prefer that format.

First Impressions

It looks nice. Really nice. It kind of reminds me of Android, but it’s a cleaner design if you ask me. It has a lot of problems, but it’s an alpha, so you can’t reasonably expect too much.

Inbuilt apps

Not bad either. They look quite nice, and work pretty well. Even running desktop apps seems good! Everything gels together quite well. A few things didn’t work, like installing apps seemed to have a permissions problem, but on the whole it was a fairly good/cohesive experience I think.

The KDE Plasma Mobile UI

Note: Almost all these issues were caused by VirtualBox, take this with a pinch of salt! It runs much better in QEMU and real hardware, it’s not as buggy as it looked in the video.

Nice, but horribly buggy! Every time I used the home button, or the app switcher (which is beautifully designed by the way), the system would black-screen on me. I feel like this (and some other issues) could be virtualbox-related, so I shall try on real hardware too with a follow up. Despite the constant crashes, it is really nicely designed – I think it could go far, but it will need some work. Most impressive in my opinion is its ability to run desktop KDE (and other) apps, and they gel reasonably well with the UI as well, although a menu bar would be nice in some cases. I would absolutely love this if it were less buggy, but as I say, it’s an alpha :).

Default apps

Some KDE plasma mobile specific apps (didn’t look too much at these), and desktop apps like Firefox and VLC. They all work, and I especially like the Discover Software Center. I didn’t test too many, because I had to keep rebooting!


Note: Almost all these issues were caused by VirtualBox, take this with a pinch of salt! It runs much better in QEMU and real hardware. I will follow up with a second post soon.

I like it a lot, and as an aplha, it’s not half bad. Sure, you have to be patient what with the constant forced reboots, at least in VirtualBox, but it’s nicely made. I will follow this post up with my results from running it on my desktop, and on the raspberry pi (if it will run on a model 1 B+), and let you know how it goes. I may also try running the ARM version with qemu.

That’s it from me for now, but I shall be back soon with more posts.


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About Hamish McIntyre-Bhatty

I'm a self-employed software developer working on Free Software projects, as well as studying for my degree with the Open University. Being pedantic when it comes to detail is fortunately useful for both of these things! A strong believer in free software, I have a few pay-for programs available under the GPLv3 and enjoy reporting bugs and helping to improve various open source projects, including volunteering at Wimborne Model Town to work on their river control system.

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