KDE neon is a Linux distribution developed by KDE based on the most recent Ubuntu long-term support (LTS) release, bundled with a set of additional software repositories containing the latest 64-bit versions of the Plasma 5 desktop environment/framework, Qt 5 toolkit and other compatible KDE software. First announced in June 2016 by Kubuntu founder Jonathan Riddell following his departure from Canonical (Ubuntu's parent company), it has been adopted by a steadily growing number of Linux users, regularly appearing in the Top 20 on DistroWatch.com's popularity tables. It targets the same user demographic as Ubuntu's official KDE Plasma-focused distribution, Kubuntu, differing primarily in the much shorter time-frame for users to receive updated Qt and KDE software. It is offered in four release channels: User, Testing, Unstable and Developer Editions.
|Written in||C/C++/Qt 5|
|OS family||Linux (Unix-like)|
|Source model||Open source|
|Initial release||June 8, 2016|
|Latest release||User Edition:|
5.21, based on Ubuntu 20.04 and Plasma 5.21 / February 16, 2021
|Latest preview||Testing Edition:|
5.21, based on Ubuntu 20.04 and Plasma 5.21
|Marketing target||KDE Plasma enthusiasts|
|Available in||80 languages|
|Package manager||PackageKit/Discover (GUI)|
|Userland||GNU, Ubuntu long-term support base|
|Default user interface||KDE Plasma 5|
|License||Various open-source licenses, mainly the LGPL-2.1 and GPL-2|
The KDE neon Linux distribution is focused on the development of KDE. The emphasis is on bleeding edge software packages sourced directly from KDE and offers programmers early access to new features, but potentially at the cost of greater susceptibility to software bugs.
Differences from KubuntuEdit
Because Kubuntu has the KDE Plasma suite on an Ubuntu base OS, KDE neon often is mistaken for Kubuntu and vice versa. However, the primary difference between the two operating systems is that Kubuntu maintains stable releases and LTS version of Ubuntu while KDE neon focuses on updating developer editions of KDE applications without maintaining stable releases of Ubuntu unless the root user actively chooses to upgrade their systems.
History and VersionsEdit
KDE neon first started taking shape in late 2015 as a way to provide what is essentially a rolling release of KDE software on top of Ubuntu's stable OS base. Daily installation images first started getting built in January of 2016. These images were based on Ubuntu 15.10, but in April of 2016, upgrades to Ubuntu 16.04, which would eventually become the base for the first general release, which happened on 8 June 2016.
KDE neon announced in January 2017 that the distribution will be switching its installer from Ubiquity to Calamares due to Ubiquity "not having some features". In February 2018, KDE neon developers removed the LTS Editions from the downloads page, but kept these editions in the download mirrors because of "lots of people asking which edition to use and what the difference is." In May 2018, KDE started changing KDE neon from being based on Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 18.04. KDE neon preview images, based on Ubuntu 18.04, became available in August 2018. On 10 August 2020, KDE released a rebased version of KDE Neon, based on Ubuntu 20.04 
As KDE neon is primarily a packaging of KDE software (and occasionally updated dependencies) on top of Ubuntu LTS, its versions are simply numbered off the Plasma release version. However, some notable versions of KDE neon User Edition are listed below to show technical progression.
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.6||8 June 2016||Based on Ubuntu 16.04 base, using Plasma 5.6. This was the first version of KDE neon considered a general release.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.13||26 September 2018||neon 5.13 was the first version built both on Ubuntu 16.04 and on 18.04. It was released in June of 2018 based only on Ubuntu 16.04, but early tests based on 18.04 were made available in August. The user edition was made upgradable to 18.04 in September, and in early 2019 the Ubuntu 16.04 based build was discontinued.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.15||12 February 2019||Alongside the 5.15.0 release of KDE Plasma, KDE neon upgraded to version 5.15. At this point, KDE neon started making KDE applications available in Snap format as well as the usual deb packages. This also helps make it easier to install the latest KDE applications on other Linux distributions without needing to upgrade other components such as KDE frameworks. KDE Neon still uses apt based packages by default, but the snap packages are built and maintained using the neon build system and their packaging is part of the neon project.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.19||9 June 2020||After upgrading to KDE Plasma 5.19, neon began the work of porting to Ubuntu 20.04. After testing, the public release of KDE neon officially switched over to Ubuntu 20.04 on 10 August 2020.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 5.20||13 October 2020||The KDE neon 5.20 was released alongside KDE Plasma in October of 2020. Although this was a major release for KDE Plasma, KDE neon didn't have any major technical changes other than the version upgrade itself.|
|Current stable version: 5.21||16 February 2021||The latest edition of KDE neon was released alongside KDE Plasma in February of 2021. Improvements included a focus on Wayland support, a new application launcher and Plasma System Monitor, aiming to succeed KSysGuard.|
Fresh installation images are built regularly, grabbing the latest packages from Ubuntu and the latest packages from the KDE neon repositories.
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