4 Things Must Do After You Install KDE

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KDE is a free and open source desktop workspace, application suite, and development environment for Unix-like operating systems such as Linux. Its applications are also available for Mac OS X and Windows. One of the most impressive features of KDE is its flexibility. You can customize KDE to look and feel however you want.

The KDE workspace is a unique experience not found with any other desktop environment or operating system. It is called Plasma and is fully integrated with a widget system and is easily themeable. When you first install KDE, it will already look beautiful, but half of the fun of a free and open source workspace is tweaking. These are simple customizations you can do to make your KDE desktop truly yours.

1. Choose your desktop type

In KDE 4.x, Plasma gives you the ability to choose between two types of desktops. One is a traditional desktop that simply displays the contents of the ~/Desktop folder or folder of your choice. This option is called Folder View. The other displays a completely new type of desktop where the only items on it are widgets. This is the Default Desktop setting. With it you can include multiple Folder View widgets, icons, and more. Two new options: “Newspaper Layout” and “Search and Launch” add even more layout choices.

To set the desktop type, right click on the desktop and click “Desktop Settings”. If necessary, click “Unlock Widgets” to enable the “Layout” option. Then, simply choose the workspace type you want and click OK.

2. Change Your Plasma Theme

The default theme is called Air and is thus very light and pleasant. If you prefer something darker, more colorful, or more exotic, you can change the theme, download a new one, or create your own. To change the theme, click the K-Menu and then choose “System Settings”. Alternatively, press Alt+F2 and Type “System Settings”.

Next, choose “Workspace Appearance” and then click the “Desktop Theme” icon on the left. In the “Theme” tab you can select a currently-installed theme. To download more, click “Get New Themes…” This will load the Add-On Installer, allowing you to install new themes directly from KDE-Look.org. When you find one you want, just click the Install button.

You can mix and match any themes you want with the “Details” tab. You can also use it to make your own custom themes, inserting your own SVG graphics and colors.

3. Configure/Add Panels

Depending on your OS, the KDE panel will have a few default widgets on it, such as the K-Menu button (start menu), a workspace switcher (pager), a task manager, a system notification, system tray, and a clock. You can do whatever you want with the KDE panel: move it to the side or top, resize it, add widgets, add icons, or even add multiple panels in different locations and/or screens.

To manage your panel, right click on it and make sure your widgets are unlocked. Then, click the cashew button on the far right of the panel. You will see several controls: Screen Edge, Height, Add Widgets, Add Spacer, and More Settings. In More Settings, you can change the panel behavior, such as making it hide behind windows or align to the right, left, or center. Best of all, any widget you can put on the desktop can be iconified and placed in the panel. When you click its icon, the full widget will float above the desktop. Some widgets even support being added into the notification area.

4. Configure Style and Window Decorations

By default KDE uses the Oxygen style and window decoration. It has a silver gradient background and a blue glow shadow behind the windows (with desktop effects enabled). Many KDE users love this and stick with it, but there are plenty of options for customization if you want something different.

To change the KDE application style, go to “System Settings” and click “Application Appearance”. Where it says “Widget style” click the dropdown box to select a different one. You can also click the “Configure…” button to customize the style you choose. The Add-On Installer does not work for styles, so if you want more, you will have to install them from your Linux distribution’s repository or software center. There you will find highly customizable themes like QtCurve.

To change window decorations, go back to the main “System Settings” pane and select “Workspace Appearance”. This time, simply choose the window decoration you want. You can also use the “Get New Decorations…” button to download new decorations. In the “Configure Decorations” dialog, for some decorations you can configure shadows, border size, and other features.

For more information about KDE, visit the KDE Userbase. To download customizations and applications, visit KDE-Look and KDE-Apps.

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Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

I am Vishal Gaikar, Software Engineer, Web Addicted, Living in Maharashtra, India. If you like This post, you can follow Tricks Machine on Twitter, also you can add me on Google+.

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  • Stan

    I just switched from Unity (yuck!) to KDE and these tips sure help a lot KDE newbie like me. Thank you very much.

  • I am glad that you liked the article. Thanks

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