Plasma Active 3 now available

Plasma Active 3 now available

By | October 19th, 2012
No Comments on Plasma Active 3 now available

It seems like there is a release of a new version of a tablet OS nearly

every other week. Just goes to show how important and popular that form

factor is turning out to be. The latest to release is Plasma Active Three,

a tablet-centric OS in development by the KDE community.


														               
							 	 						

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It seems like there is a release of a new version of a tablet OS nearly every other week. Just goes to show how important and popular that form factor is turning out to be. The latest to release is Plasma Active Three, a tablet-centric OS in development by the KDE community.

There is a growing trend to push a more touch-centric UI onto desktop OS users, in an effort to create the one UI to rule them all. Gnome 3, Ubuntu’s Unity and Windows 8 all have user interfaces that have been heavily influenced by touch screens and tablets. Now these aren’t bad UIs, nor are they even bad for desktop users. However they do make sacrifices to accommodate two styles of computing, while a pure focus on one style might have led to a better UI, even if it was non-traditional.

KDE shuns this trend with Plasma Active. Their goal is to have a common OS, and a common core for their key applications while maintaining distinct user experiences for those using tablets and those using desktops. Share code, not UI across devices seems to be the central philosophy.

Plasma Active Three continues to refine the the tablet UI, and features for the first time, a store of sorts for Plasma Active. This new feature is available as the “Add Ons” app which currently gives users active to a large collection of eBooks and wallpapers. In the future this will also serve as an app store for purchasing and installing applications. There are also minor additions such as an Alarms app and a RSS reader app.

An interesting new application however is the new File manager. Now a file manager is an unusual thing to be excited about, however Plasma Active Three’s new File manager application is rather novel. For one it considers the actual file system to be “implementation detail” rather than a core feature. The application lets you browse the content on your device using metadata rather than folders. You can browse files based on their type, via a timeline view by tags or by activities. In fact the Books app is merely the document-focussed view of the Files app, likewise the Images app is merely the Files app using an image-centric UI.

Plasma Active 3 file manager displaying images and tags

The Plasma Active 3 Files app

Activities continue to be a core feature of the OS, allowing users to have their entire OS be catered to what they are doing. If you launch a new Activity called “project a” any files you open, download or tag with that activity will show up under it, allowing you to access files relevant to that activity with ease.

This latest release is based on the Mer OS, which is a community project focussed on keeping the MeeGo core alive.

There are plans to have a Plasma Active-based tablet that would feature open (as in not locked) hardware and software. This project, called Vivaldi seems to have suffered some setbacks recently, but is still a device that is in active development.

Till then you can still try out Plasma Active on a number of devices (instructions here) or on a VM. Or if you are not that bold, check out a video demonstrating it below:

You can also find out more about Plasma Active Three from the Plasma Active website and this detailed blog post.

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Kshitij Sobti
Inserted into Kshitij's motivation banks is a particularly strong desire for justice. It's sad then, that he wastes his skills gaming, watching TV, and for the mundane task of writing prose. He tweets
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