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General KDE Software FAQs

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End User FAQ for KDE systems

This page with frequently asked questions (FAQ) has been gathered from questions in the #kde IRC channel. This list isn't comprehensive and may grow.

Since this list might become quite long in the future, feel free to browse the table of contents below or use your browser's Find feature to search for a certain topic.

What about KDE 3?

Is KDE 3 going to be abandoned?

No. There is no EOL (end of life) planned for KDE 3. It will continue to exist and be used as long as there are people using it. However, there is no guarantee of bug fixes and maintenance for KDE 3.5 other than that given by your vendor and possible support contracts. Further development is not planned.

Is it necessary to upgrade to KDE 4?

KDE 3 will continue to exist and be used for a long time. But whether you will have to upgrade will mostly be dependent on your distribution's setup. Please consult with your distribution for more information.

If you wish to stay with KDE 3 and your distro moves on, there are still distros that use KDE 3.5. With time, of course, the number of these is diminishing. By now the most likely place to find KDE 3.5 is in the Enterprise Linux distros, such as CentOS, White Box or Scientific Linux.

Will I be able to keep using KDE 3 or KDE 3 apps?

Yes, you will be able to continue using KDE 3 or KDE 3 apps as long as the necessary dependencies are installed. As the changeover to KDE 4 software progresses some of those dependencies will be missing. However, at the same time, most applications are either getting new versions to run with the more up to date dependencies, or similar, new packages are being written.

How KDE 4 and KDE are set up depends on your distribution. Please consult with your distribution for more information. Some distributions allow both KDE3 and KDE 4 SC to be installed on the same system. However, since the release of KDE 4.3 that is less frequently found.

General How-tos

How do I install themes? How can I change the way my desktop looks?

KDE 3 Theming guide: User Guide - Customizing your Desktop is a good guide for KDE 3.

While the KDE 4 desktop comes with a set of default themes, there are also ways to install your custom theme. In general, additional artwork is made available through the kdeartwork module where you can find colorschemes, cursors, icons and so on. Additional Plasma widget themes can be downloaded through GetHotNewStuff. Open the "Desktop settings..." dialogue and click on the "New theme..." button to see a list of available themes. Note that you need to be connected to the Internet for installing new themes.

How can I make my GTK apps look like KDE apps?

You can use the GTK-Qt Engine to make GTK apps use the current Qt/KDE style. Instructions on how to use are on the website. Please refer to your distribution for packages.

How can I make KDE SC apps look like GTK apps?

Since qt 4.5 release, there is support for gtk themes for Qt GUI styles.

Firefox integration

How can I make Firefox more integrated into my Plasma desktop? How can I make Firefox use the KDE-designed file or print dialogs? How can I make Firefox use KDE SC programs?

The forum post how to integrate Firefox into KDE and its follow-ups help you change Firefox's appearance, and use kget as its download manager

Also, there's a similar guide in the Gentoo Wiki archives, HOWTO Integrate Firefox with KDE.

This blog Making Firefox 3x Look at Home in KDE4 tells how one user tackled the problem

How do I install programs additional KDE software?

Installing software on your computer, whether with KDE SC or GNOME, largely depends on your distribution's software management system. Please consult with your distribution for more information.

How do I install drivers for wifi/video/other hardware?

Installing hardware drivers for networking or video is a task that most distributions take care of. Different distributions use different tools for configuring hardware. Please consult with your distribution first for more information.

How do I use Compiz with Plasma Desktop?

Install compiz. Open System Settings, choose the "Session Manager" module in the Advanced tab, choose compiz in the "Window Manager" combobox and restart your desktop.

KDE 4 installations

Getting KDE 4 software

How do I install the new KDE systems? Where can I get Plasma Desktop?

The best place to start looking would be in your distribution's packages. The KDE community doesn't provide distribution-specific packages, only source code. Also, the method of installing your Plasma Desktop and associated software, as well as the setup, varies from distribution to distribution.

Can I build KDE software from source?

You can follow the guide found in Techbase - Getting Started.

How do I build KDE software? Where do I go if I encounter build problems?

Guides to building KDE can be found in Techbase - Getting Started. Please read and follow them very carefully. You can ask questions in the usual support channels such as IRC, mailing lists, or forums.

Plasma Howtos

How do I put icons on the desktop in KDE 4?

KDE 4.0 offered simple icons on the desktop, but no file operations. KDE 4.1 introduced the folderview plasmoid that makes it easy to use your desktop as a filemanager. This has been further improved in KDE 4.2, which allows you to make the folderview the actual desktop: to do this, click on the Cashew (the icon in the top-right corner of the desktop by default) or right-click on the desktop and choose, 'Desktop settings...'. Click on the, 'Type:' combo box and select, 'Folder View'. This will allow you to use your desktop in the traditional method. However, it does not remove the ability to change the displayed folder, or to add more folder views to the desktop. In KDE 4.3, this has been improved even more with features such as folder peeking, which gives you a fully interactive preview of a folder you hover your mouse over (and allows you to preview folders inside that folder), setting the desktop background by dragging an image onto it and creating plasmoids by dragging content onto it (such as a picture frame for pictures, a folder view for folders or a media plasmoid for videos).

To create icons on the desktop, just Unlock Plasma and drag'n'drop files or directories onto it. You will then be offered the option to create a normal icon or a folderview, to the desktop. Images can be put on the desktop inside an image frame, when dragging a directory on the desktop you're offered to create a folderview of it. Note that you can also use network locations and basically any other "protocol" KIO supports inside a folderview. Inside a folderview, normal file manipulations are possible.

How can I get Xinerama/Dual monitor setups working in KDE 4?

Plasma natively supports dual monitor setups and is able to adapt itself to added or removed displays automatically on the fly.

Can I put the panel in only one screen?

All Plasma panels live in one screen. If you want panels on multiple screens, you can add panels and drag them to your preferred location using the panel controller you get when clicking on the Plasma icon in "Unlocked" mode.

For more information on Plasma, please check the Plasma section

KWin Howtos

How do I get KWin effects working

While configuring the X server to provide compositing capabilities is beyond the scope of this document, there are some hints to be found on Techbase. If your X server already supports compositing, switching it on is as easy as opening System Settings, opening the "Desktop" module, choosing "Desktop Effects" and enabling the checkbox "Enable desktop effects". More advanced compositing settings (such as VSync operation, Direct rendering, compositing mode) and available through the "Advanced" dialog. Customising the behaviour of the KWin effects means opening the "All effects" tab, and choosing the plugins you want to use. Please note that only a subset of the plugins works with XRender-based compositing. For the full experience, you need to use OpenGL mode.

General Howtos

How do I make Konqueror the default file manager in KDE 4?

In System Settings, go to the Advanced tab and click on File Associations. In the list of Known Types, go to the inode/directory type. In the General tab at the right side of the window, select Konqueror in the Application Preference Order and click on the Up button until it is at the top. Click on Apply to save the changes.

I have sound problems

In order to understand KDE sound, you have to understand Linux sound (this chapter assumes you are running your KDE on Linux). There are two types of sound systems that run on Linux: ALSA and OSS. Both provide their own sound card drivers. ALSA only runs on Linux, OSS runs on many UNIX systems. ALSA allows several applications to access the sound card at the same time, OSS not. OSS provides a device for sound output. This device can only be accessed by one application at a time. To decrease confusion, ALSA emulates OSS and also provides a device as interface to the sound card. As well ALSA as OSS call the device for the sound card /dev/dsp usually.

Usual problems are

  • You cannot play sound because you are using an application that tries to access the sound device /dev/dsp, but this device is already in use by another application.
  • You cannot use the system-wide mixer kmix to adjust the volume of an application using the sound device /dev/dsp.
  • Different applications play sound using different devices.

There is no silver bullet solving all your sound problems. The solution depends on the application you use to play sound. As an example, you can use mplayer with ALSA and OSS. For more info, see mplayer's documentation by calling

mplayer -ao help

Changes in KDE 4

Will KDE be using WebKit? How can I use WebKit in Konqueror?

Currently, there are no plans on replacing KHTML in Konqueror. KHTML continues to be developed actively. As Qt as of 4.4 also offers webkit, KDE applications can make use of Webkit. A KPart that can be used in Konqueror instead of the KHTML KPart is being developed currently, but not ready for production use yet. KHTML will not be removed in the KDE 4's lifespan due to compatibility policies, for one reason. It will be possible to use WebKit as an alternative viewer in Konqueror with the webkitkde project. The source code is available in KDE SVN Playground.

Why was the old KDE menu replaced by Kickoff?

The traditional application starting menu from KDE3 had various usability issues. First and foremost, people tend to use no more than 6-10 applications regularly. Having those applications buried in deep menu structures makes it a lot of effort to start them. Those favourite applications can with Kickoff be moved into their own tab so they're easilly accessible. Kickoff might, for new users be more complicated to use since the "browsing applications" usecase has a less central position. For mid- to long-term users, Kickoff will increase productivity for the most common cases.

For users who prefer the traditional application launcher menu, it can easily be changed by right-clicking on the Kickoff button and choosing "Switch to Classic Menu Style".

Why a new desktop implementation? The old one isn't broken.

The code in kicker, kdesktop and the minicli (The "Run Command" dialogue you get when you press ALT+F2) has been around for a long time. As usecases and technical capabilities shift, the code became unmaintainable and wasn't flexible enough to move KDE forward at a reasonable pace. Moreover, few people dared diving into kicker to extend it. When someone wanted to create a new panel implementation, it has happened multiple times that kicker was just copied and changed. This lead to various forks of kicker and additional maintainance burden for developers. While kicker and kdesktop used to look fine to casual users, they're pretty much a dead-end street in terms of feature development and long-standing, hard to fix bugs.

While Plasma has been rewritten from scratch, and therefore might not yet be able to fully replace kdesktop and kicker for some users, it offers a route to innovation, better collaboration between developers, designers and usability experts. Plasma technology is also built with different formfactors in mind, so it might run on your mobile phone, media center, internet tablet or whatever you can imagine in the future.

Helping KDE

How can I help in development? Do I need to learn how to code?

There are many ways to help in KDE, not only through programming. There are other areas of contribution that need talent of other kinds. All that's necessary is the desire to help and some commitment. Of course, if you want learn how to program in order contribute to KDE, we will be more than willing to get you started as well.

This page was last edited on 15 October 2014, at 15:57. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.