After desktop hopping for many years, most of our crew prefer KDE Plasma 5. It’s a lightweight (yes modern versions are lightweight) and responsive desktop which is full-featured and beguiling to the eye. In our opinion, one of the aspects that stands KDE Plasma head and shoulders above its desktop peers is extensibility. Plasma lets you configure the desktop to your specific preferences.
KDE Plasma widgets (also known as plasmoids) are a smart way of customizing the desktop. There are an abundance of widgets available that act like building blocks, constructing a desktop that’s perfect for your needs and requirements. We’ve tried the vast majority of KDE Plasma widgets.
In this updated article, we recommend 33 of our favourite widgets. There should be something for everyone. And there are a few fun widgets along the way!
The vast majority of our recommendations can be installed using the Plasma Add-On Installer (see image below). There’s one or two that need a bit of effort to install, with a few additional packages needed. Widgets can also be installed via the Discover application, or installed from a local file.
There are also a few widgets (like Playbar2, YapStocks) that we’ve used over the years which sadly no longer work with recent Qt releases. All the widgets were tested with Arch or Manjaro but they should run on any KDE-friendly distro.
1. Event Calendar
We like the default Plasma 5 calendar widget, but it’s certainly short on functionality. Many of us prefer Event Calendar as our default calendar widget. This extended calendar offers daily weather forecasts and syncs with events from Google Calendar. The calendar plugins include astronomical events, and national holidays.
There’s an agenda that can be shown as a single column, or two columns. There’s also a handy timer with 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, 15 minute, 20 minute, 30 minute, and 45 minute options.
If you need the additional functionality offered by this polished calendar widget, you’ll love this!
If you prefer a desktop app, we recommend Kontact, it’s a full-featured personal information manager and groupware software suite for KDE.
2. Advanced Radio Player
This is another must-have widget for anyone who loves listening listening to radio stations.
There are so many redeeming qualities for this widget. The stand-out feature is the widget’s search functionality which lets you search for radio stations using the radio-browser.info API. It makes finding and adding new stations really easy and quick. You can search for stations by name, country, language, and tags.
In the image to the left, we’ve added a selection of stations.
You can change the order of stations. There’s even import and export functionality. Truly superb!
If you’d prefer a full-blown internet radio app, we make our recommendations in our Internet Radio roundup.
3. Simple Menu
This article wouldn’t be complete without an application launcher. There’s a fair few good ones to choose from. But I’ve plumped for only one, even though there’s a few great alternatives.
The one that really floats our boat is Simple Menu. It’s simple to use, fast in operation, and works similar to the full screen Application Dashboard. There’s support for favorites and basic system actions.
It’s compatible with touchscreens too. Great stuff.
4. Simple System Monitor
Linux isn’t short of high quality system monitoring tools which we explore in this article. But if you want a simple way to monitor your system, step forward Simple System Monitor.
This widget is a simple monitor that shows the current time, date, and uptime, as well as displaying operating system information (distribution and kernel version). There are CPU load and temperature statistics, together with details of used/free memory, and swap.
You can change the logo to match your distribution (Slackware, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, OpenSuSE, Manjaro, Arch, and Fedora). We’re not certain we like the way the date and time staggers; it’d be great for a way to customize this.
If you don’t like the default skin, there’s a column skin included.
Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Event Calendar, Advanced Radio Player, Simple Menu, Simple System Monitor
Page 2 – Redshift Control, Places, Qalculate, Dictionary
Page 3 – KDE Connect, Notes, Fokus, TodoList
Page 4 – Active Window Control, Condensed Weather, Translator, Webslice
Page 5 – GitLab Issues, RSS Indicator, Comic Strip, Plasma Customization Saver
Page 6 – Hoppla, Win7 Volume Mixer, Colour Picker, Application Title
Page 7 – Thermal Monitor, Kargos, Netspeed Widget, Icons-only Task Manager
Page 8 – Panon, Bouncy Ball, Better inline clock, Show Desktop, Compact Shutdown
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.