Turn Your Regular TV into a Smart TV With KDE Plasma Bigscreen

Brief: KDE’s upcoming Plasma Bigscreen project lets you use open source technologies to turn your regular TV into a smart one.

Smart TVs are the new normal these days. Mostly based on Android, these smart TVs let you play YouTube, Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services. You can even use voice commands to control your smart TV.

One major problem with these so-called smart TVs are that they probably are spying on you. Your data is being collected with or without your knowledge.

This is the problem KDE’s Plasma Bigscreen project is aiming to solve.

Plasma Bigscreen: Make your TV smart with open source technologies

Plasma Bigscreen Menu

You probably already know about the KDE project. It started as a Linux desktop environment project more than 20 years ago. The KDE project grew bigger and this is why they created Plasma desktop environment to make it clear that KDE is no more just “K Desktop Environment”.

The Plasma project itself is quite versatile. You can of course use it on your desktop Linux computer. Plasma also has a mobile version that you can run on Linux-based smartphones like Librem5 and PinePhone.

The Plasma Bigscreen is a new project from KDE that aims to provide interface and features similar to what Smart TVs provide.

All you need is a single board computer like Raspberry Pi and a TV with HDMI port. Install Plasma Bigscreen on your device and connect it to your TV.

Plasma Bigscreen features: More than just a media server

Youtube In Plasma Bigscreen
YouTube In Plasma Bigscreen

Though it may look like one at the first glance, but Plasma Bigscreen is not like Kodi and other media servers for Linux. It’s more than that.

Control with your regular remote

You don’t need a new specialized remote control. Thanks to CEC, you can use your regular TV remote control.

Voice control with open source Mycroft AI

Plasma Bigscreen takes advantage of the open source Mycroft AI project. With Mycroft built in to Bigscreen, you can use voice command to play content, check weather and control other aspects of your smart TV. You can further train this AI by teaching it new skills.

Traditional desktop applications

Plasma Bigscreen delivers not only media-rich applications, but also traditional desktop applications redesigned to fit the Bigscreen experience.

Free and open source software

The most important feature is that it is an open source project and it uses other open source technologies to give you the complete control over your data and your smart TV.

Since it is open source, I believe once it is released, there will be a few vendors providing it as a plug and play device.

How to get Plasma Bigscreen?

Plasma Bigscreen is still in beta phase and there is no definite timeline for the stable release.

However, the beta version is also working good on devices like Raspberry Pi 4. Here’s a video by one of the developers working on this project.

If you have a Raspberry Pi 4, you can download Plasma Bigscreen beta version from its official download page and follow the steps here to install it.

Personally, I am really excited about it. I am going to take out some time and try it on my Raspberry Pi 4. What about you? Do you think the project has potential? Will you give it a try?



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