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KDE's new Plasma netbook interface shines in small places

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A new Plasma-based custom KDE desktop shell is designed to deliver a better user experience on netbooks and other devices with small screens. Ars takes a look at the prototype to see how it compares to the conventional KDE desktop environment.

The Linux platform is beginning to gain mainstream acceptance on low-cost netbook devices. The growing popularity of netbooks presents a major opportunity for the open source operating system, but it also comes with some challenges. One of the most significant problems is that much of the open source software that is available today for the desktop is not designed to deliver an optimal user experience on small screens.

Linux distributors and application developers are exploring alternate user interface concepts that will work well at low resolutions without compromising productivity. There is also a clear need to boost usability as netbook devices are broadly intended for the regular consumer market. The KDE desktop environment has recently gained a new specialized netbook interface that leverages the strengths of KDE's unique Plasma technology. Ars tested it on Kubuntu to see how it compares to the conventional KDE desktop experience.

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