KDE Tips & Hints


This page is not meant to be a complete guide to KDE but merely a list of things I have learnt and wanted to make a note of. It started just as a personal record but I decided to make it public as it may be useful to others. KDE is a lot more configurable than most other desktops but with that comes a bit of complexity. However most things can be found by searching, the first place to try is System Settings. Most Widgets have a settings option on the right click menu too.

My first tip would be to check out Korora. Korora KDE is a Fedora remix that just works. It has all the popular apps many people add to their system and will play nearly all media without any additional setup. It also includes many KDE addons, widgets etc. that are not part of the Fedora KDE spin. There are versions for other desktops too.

These tips were last tested on my Korora 20, KDE 4.13.3 system so they also apply to Fedora. They were originally created for my Fedora 13 KDE 4.4 system and then have been updated from time to time since then. Some of these tips may not apply to other versions or distros. Package names and paths may change in other distros or even other Fedora versions, look for something similar.

The list is by no means complete and I will add to it as I learn and get the inspiration. This page was last updated on 13th September 2014.

Index

Files
Settings
Menu
KDM
Codecs
Amarok
Digikam
Yakuake
Dolphin
Widgets
KSnapshot
Desktop
Internet
Language Etc.
Date and Time
Latest Version
Further Help

Files

In the user’s home directory there is a hidden directory called .kde, note the dot which makes it hidden. It contains most of KDE’s config files. It also contains a sub-directory share/apps which has sub-directories for many KDE apps. Some apps will store their data here eg. kmail, amarok and kjots just to name a few. You can backup the whole .kde directory and restore it to a new version of Fedora without problems (usually).

If you have any strange issues with KDE such as being unable to log in or the loss of settings try removing / renaming the .kde/share/config/ directory. Remember though that you will lose any settings in there. Renaming the directory first and then restoring one piece at a time is the safest way.

Warning! You will often see advice to delete the ~/.kde directory to solve some configuration issue. This is poor advice although it may work. The ~/.kde directory not only contains settings but also data for many KDE apps including Kmail, Amarok, Kjots and many others. Deleting the directory means deleting your data.
top

Settings

Fonts

Sometimes the desktop fonts will appear too large. If it happens go to ‘System Settings’ – ‘Application Appearance’ – ‘Fonts’ and set “Force Fonts” to 96 dpi, you may need to experiment to find the best value for your screen.

Touchpad

The ‘Input Devices’ (formerly called ‘Mouse and Keyboard’) section of ‘System Settings’ has a Touchpad screen. By default Fedora has Tap to Click turned off but it can be set to the more popular “on” on the Tapping tab. I found I had to adjust the settings before it appeared to work on at least one computer.

You may need to set the appropriate button action too. Click on e.g. ‘one finger’ and then on the right pane select the action, in the case of ‘one finger’ it would normally be ‘Left Button’. Repeat for other optins.

KDE doesn’t have an option to disable the touchpad while typing but you can run “syndaemon” if you have a Synaptics touchpad. The default settings are good for most people but run “man syndaemon” in a terminal to see the options. Add it to Autostart to have it running automatically each session.

Starting Applications at Log In

You can set an application or script to start automatically when you log in by adding it to the list in ‘System Settings’ – ‘Startup and Shutdown’ – ‘Autostart’.

By default KDE places the autostart files in ~/.config/autostart/, applications here will start in other desktop environments as well as KDE. If you want an application to only start in KDE move the file application-name.desktop to ~/.kde/Autostart/. You will have to confirm the first time you restart KDE but then it will only start in KDE in future.

Numlock

You can set the state of the number lock on start up in ‘Input Devices’  – ‘Keyboard’. ‘Input Devices’ was called ‘Mouse and Keyboard’ until version 4.5.

Dragging Windows

KDE 4.5 added a new feature that allows you to click on any empty area of a window and drag it around the screen. This can cause problems in some applications such as drawing or games. It can be turned off in Application Appearance – Style, use the Configure Widget Style button and select an alternative Drag option such as ‘Drag from Titlebar only’. In early versions you will need to run the “oxygen-settings” utility from Krunner or a terminal.
top

Menu

Edit the Menu

Right click on the menu (aka Kickoff) icon and select ‘Edit Applications’ (prior to 4.6 it was called by the more obvious Menu Editor). Select the menu item you want to edit and make the necessary changes. Simple as that.

The menu includes a Favourites section. To make an item a favourite select it in the menu, right click and select add to Favourites. Similarly to remove an item from the Favourites right click on the item and select remove. Right clicking anywhere in the Favourites tab gives the option to reorder the Favourites list.

Settings

Right click on the menu icon and select Application Launcher Settings. In Fedora I change the icon to a KDE one.

I also select to view the applications by name rather than by description. A handy option when you have multiple apps of one type, eg, browsers installed.

If the widgets are unlocked you also have the option of choosing between a classic menu style and an application launcher.

Run as Other User

You can set an option in the menu to run an application as another user. One useful reason for this is to run a file manager or editor as root. Fedora doesn’t allow you to log in as root due to the potential security issues but there are a few jobs which must be done as root. This is one way to accomplish that.

Right click on the menu icon and select Edit Applications (was Menu Editor prior to 4.6) select an existing entry for e.g. Dolphin and click on copy. Go to where you want the new entry and click new item. You will be asked for a name, call it anything. Click paste. The name will be overwritten so now is the time to give it the name you want.  Go to advanced tab and set the user to root. Save it.

When you run that item you will be asked for root password and then will have a file manager with root access

Korora includes a handy plugin for Dolphin, it also works with Krusader, that adds root actions to the right click menu. This is a handy way of doing the occasional job that needs root access.

Other DEs

If you use other desktop environments and don’t want KDE apps appearing in the menus in those environments the menu editor has an option to appear only in KDE. Unfortunately this is for each individual app so a mass change is a lot of work.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Rather than always opening applications from the menu you can create keyboard shortcuts. This is a handy option for applications you use regularly. Keyboard shortcuts can be added by going into the menu editor (see above) and selecting the advanced tab on the menu entry you want a shortcut for. Click on the shortcut box and press the desired keys. If the key combination is already in use you will have the option to replace or cancel (and try a different combo).

If your shortcuts don’t work go to System Settings – Input Actions and check KMenuEdit is selected. It may appear to be greyed out but click on it and your shortcuts should be visible and selected.
top

KDM

KDM (KDE Desktop Manager) is the default desktop manager with a KDE system. However in Fedora if you install from the KDE Live CD you have KDM but if you install from the DVD or add KDE to an existing system you will have GDM, the Gnome equivalent. Adding another desktop environment to an existing KDE installation may change the default DM too. While the KDE environment will run fine on GDM you may prefer to have KDM as I do. To activate KDM add the line

DISPLAYMANAGER=”KDE”

to /etc/sysconfig/desktop. If that file doesn’t exist you will need to create it first. Of course you will need to be root to do this. A restart is required.

If you have problems logging in for any reason try the second KDE option on the log in screen, it is marked ‘safe’ or something similar depending on the version. It will log you in without desktop effects running and with the default screen size.

Themes

To change the theme for KDM in ‘System Settings’ – ‘System Administration’ –  ‘Login Screen’ – ‘Themes’, there is a Get New Theme button which downloads and installs themes. Alternatively you can download the theme and use the Install button. Just point it to the downloaded archive, no need to extract the contents. If you prefer to do it manually extract the contents of the archive to /usr/kde4/share/apps/kdm/themes/. You need to be root to do this.

You can also change the splash screen that appears after the KDM screen. Go to ‘System Settings’ – ‘Workspace Appearance’ –  ‘Splash Screen’. Again you have the same install options as for the KDM theme but if installing manually extract to ~/.kde/share/apps/ksplash/themes/
top

Codecs

Fedora doesn’t include any codecs or drivers etc. that aren’t free and open source so you need to add these from other sources. Korora comes with these installed so you don’t need install them. The standard source for Fedora is RPMFusion. Follow the instructions in the link to add both free and non-free repos to the repo list then install the following.

For mp3 and similar in Amarok you need – xine-lib-extras-freeworld

For mp3 and similar in K3b you need – k3b-extras-freeworld

top

Amarok

Internet Services

If you get kwallet asking for a pasword and you don’t use last.fm disable it in Amarok’s ‘Settings’ – ‘Configure Amarok’ – ‘Internet Services’.

You may also see Amarok try to log in to Music Charts and other services. If you don’t want these disable them in Settings – Scripts and scroll down to Scriptable Service.

View

The Amarok window has three panes, Media Sources, Playlist and Context, these can be rearranged as desired by clicking on View and Unlock Layout. It is possible to hide one of the panes by un-selecting it in the View menu however you can also create Tabs by dragging one window on top of another until the tabs appear at the bottom or side.

Volume

With the cursor in the Toolbar your mouse’s scroll wheel can be used to adjust the volume. You can also hover the cursor over the Amarok icon on the panel and use the scroll wheel to adjust volume.

Amarok version 1

If you long for Amarok version 1 check out Clementine, it is in the Fedora repos. There is also Exaile which is Amarok 1 ported to GTK.

Media Controller

If you want a desktop controller look at the Now Playing widget (part of the kdeplasma-addons package which is included in Korora) which shows details of the current track as well as basic controls. Also the Daisy widget (kde-plasma-daisy but also part of Korora) has a media controller option.
top

digiKam

Plugins

digiKam is a great image organiser that just keeps getting better. Before using it check that kipi-plugins are installed. They provide all the extras that makes digiKam so useful.

There a lot of entries on the Export menu. You probably don’t use all of them so they can be hidden by going to ‘Settings’ – ‘Configure digiKam’ – ‘Kipi Plugins’ and un-select the ones you don’t use. They are still in the system but don’t appear on the Export menu.

Geolocation

The Geolocation Plugin is a useful way to add the location to images even if it is very slow to run. A good option if you regularly visit particular locations is to use the bookmarks option. You can store any location there and select it without waiting for the map to load. However if you intend adding a few bookmarks it is advisable to put them in folders. This avoids a long list to search through. There is an edit option but if you want to edit by hand or back up your bookmarks, they are stored in ~/.kde/share/apps/kipi/geobookmarks.xml.

File Associations

If you want the option to “open with” Gimp or other apps such as Rawtherapee for raw files you need to update the file associations. Go to ‘System Settings’ – ‘Files Associations’ – expand “image” and look for the appropriate extensions. I edited canon-cr2 to suit my Canon 400D DSLR and I have a couple of Fuji cameras so I select fuji-raf too . I also changed kde-raw. Add your preferred apps to the list and hit Apply. You may need to close and reopen digiKam for the changes to apply. You need to have ufraw and ufraw-gimp installed to be able to edit raw files in Gimp.
top

Yakuake

Yakuake is a great drop down terminal emulator and it is included in Korora. To get the best from Yakuake set it to start at log in. That way it will always be available with just a press of F12.

Settings

It has a menu button to set the options. There are “Quick Options” for things like width and height. For other options can be set under Settings – Configure Yakuake. There is a menu button on the bottom bar of Yakuake, it has a down arrow on it when using the default theme.

To change things like appearance you need to edit Profiles. Profiles are shared with Konsole. If you want different profiles for Konsole and Yakuake you need to add a new Prolfile and set that as the default in each application.

Tabs

You can open multiple shells by clicking on the “+” sign on the left lower part of the window. Right clicking on it gives options for a few screen layouts too. You can use the “-” on the right to close the current session.

Shift + left or right arrow moves through the open shells.
top

Dolphin

Dolphin has a default view mode of Icons but can be changed to Details or columns. This can be done on the fly using the icons in the toolbar. Once changed Dolphin will remember  the settings for each folder, although that can be disabled in settings.

If you want to set a default view for all folders first set up Dolphin as you want it then go to ‘Settings’ – ‘Configure Dolphin’ – ‘General’ and change the option under view properties to “Use common view properties for all folders”. It will now use the view settings currently in use for every folder.

As well as Dolphin Korora includes the Krusader file manager. Krusader is a twin pane file manager that includes several advanced options. Check it out.

Menu Bar

By default the Menu Bar is not visible in Dolphin. You can turn it on by clicking on the Spanner icon on the right and selecting View Menubar.

Video Previews

You can add video previews in the form of thumbnails to Dolphin. For Fedora you need to first install kdemultimedia-extras-freeworld, Korora includes it.

Then you need to turn the previews on. Go to ‘Settings’ – ‘Configure Dolphin’ – ‘General’ – ‘Previews’ and click on Video. While there it is a good idea to increase the maximum file size although this doesn’t affect video. I set it to 15mb.

File Associations

To change the option to “open with” on the right click menu you need to update the file associations. Right click on the file, go to Properties. On the General Tab is a “File Type Options’ button. Click this and under “Application Preference Order’ you can configure the application used to open files of that type.

You do the same thing in ‘System Settings’ – ‘Files Associations’ – use the search box to find the appropriate extensions. Add your preferred apps to the list and hit Apply. You may need to close and reopen Dolphin for the changes to apply.

Open a Terminal

There are 2 ways to access the command line while using Dolphin. First F4 will bring up a command line in the lower part of the Dolphin window. Second Shift + F4 will open a separate window. (Of course if you use Yakuake F12 will open that too.)

Root Actions

Korora includes a handy plugin for Dolphin, it also works with Krusader, that adds root actions to the right click menu. This is a handy way of doing the occasional job that needs root access. Right Click and select Root Actions from the menu then the actions you want to take from the sub menu. You will be asked for authentication before it will proceed.

Deleting Files

Be careful with this one but if you really want to delete something rather than moving it to Trash use Shift + Delete. Remember this deletes the files, they will be gone for good.
top

Widgets

Fedora comes with a few widgets but to add more install – kdeplasma-addons, Korora includes them.

You can have different widgets on each Virtual Desktop by a setting in System Settings. Go to ‘System Settings’ – ‘Workspace Behaviour’ (was called ‘Window Behaviour’ before 4.6)- ‘Virtual Desktops’ – ‘Desktops’.
top

KSnapshot

KSnapshot is a simple screen capture program but it can be quite powerful. If you wish to capture the special screens produced by Desktop effects like “Present Windows” or “Desktop Grid” KSnapshot can do it. It may not appear obvious but is actually quite simple.

First set Delay to around 5 seconds, increase it if you need to, press the New Snapshot button then press the key combination for the desired effect. You will know it is done when the KSnapshot screen reappears. Close the effect screen and save your creation.
top

Desktop

Fedora only includes a couple of themes and few colour options. For more choice install – kdeartwork

There is also kdeartwork-screensavers, kdeartwork-sounds, kdeartwork-wallpapers.

Window Settings – Position, Size Etc.

For most of these settings you have the choice to set them in “Advanced” – Special Window Settings” or “Advanced Special Application Settings”. There isn’t much difference, both offer almost the same options. However Window settings only affects that particular window not any other window the application may open such as notification windows. Application settings will affect all windows opened by the application.

When you open an application you may want it to open in a particular place on the desktop and even on a particular desktop.  It is possible to set this and more for each application. While they can be set in  System Settings the easiest way is to open the application and position and size it as you want it. Right click on the Titlebar and select “Advanced” – “Special Window Settings”. Go to the “Geometry” tab. The available options will reflect the current settings. Click on the desired options and select Remember from the drop down list. There are additional options on the other tabs you can experiment with but the most popular options such as position and size are on the Geometry tab.

If you want the application background to be partly transparent you can change the Opacity setting on the right click menu on the titlebar. Go to ‘Advanced’ – ‘Special Window Settings’ – ‘Appearance and Fixes’. It is possible to set different settings for active and inactive windows. The inactive settings will override the settings in ‘Desktop Effects’ – ‘All Effects’.  You need to have Desktop Effects activated for transparency to work. You can also disable compositing for that application there. Prior to 4.8 you could use the Opacity option on the same menu to set the Opacity for an active window to predetermined settings.

Non KDE Apps

If you use the default oxygen style for applications install oxygen-gtk. In System Settings – Application Appearance – GTK+ Appearance select oxygen-gtk as the widget style. Now most apps will look and behave more like your KDE apps.

If you use another theme and want to add a custom GTK that is installed in ~/.themes you may find it is not displayed in the settings list. If this happens copy the theme to /usr/share/themes.

Google Chrome needs the theme setting in Preferences set to GTK theme for this to work. Also try clicking on Use System title bar and borders, some people like this setting some don’t.

Mouse Actions

The mouse can be configured to display various options or produce various actions when clicking on the desktop. Right click on the desktop and select Desktop Settings – Mouse Actions. (from 4.6.1 the right click + application launcher combination doesn’t work, a bug has been filed)

Authentication

Many administration applications require authentication, that is you need to type in a password  for the changes to take affect. Sometimes this password window is hidden behind the main application window. To change this set System Settings – Window Behaviour – Focus – Focus Stealing to none.

Desktop Effects

When many people think of Desktop Effects they think of Compiz. However for KDE a better option is Kwin’s own built in effects. I found them to be more stable than Compiz under KDE and they are fully integrated in the desktop. Now that Compiz is not available in Fedora, KDE has the best effects of any desktop environment.

Many desktop effects have additional options on the All Effects tab, click on the wrench. The default setting for many effects is conservative. Experiment with these settings to get smoother and more impressive effects and better performance.

If you have problems with Effects try the different Compositing types on the Advanced tab. If that doesn’t work disable all Effects (making a note first which ones you use) and then re-enable them one at a time until you find the problem.

Themes

To change the theme for the desktop in System Settings – Workspace Appearance –  Desktop Themes, there is a Get New Theme button which downloads and installs themes. If you prefer to do it manually download the theme and extract the contents of the archive to ~/.kde/share/apps/desktoptheme/.

There are a few themes that give transparent panels and widgets, Bare Naked from KDE-Look is the one I use. To get the transparency you need to have Desktop Effects activated.

Klipper

Klipper is the Clipboard manager for KDE. It appears in the System Tray when in use. To make it start automatically right click on the Klipper icon and select Quit. You will be asked if you want it to start at Log On.

If you use different desktop environments and want to share your Clipboard across desktops consider Parcellite. Even though it is a GTK app it works fine in KDE and most other DE’s.

Add a Launcher

Right clicking on the Icon of a running application in the Task Manager will bring up a menu. This menu has the option to show a launcher on the Task Manager when the application isn’t running. Prior to 4.8 it was under ‘Advanced’.

For an alternate launcher panel look at the Daisy plasmoid, it is included in Korora but for Fedora you need to install kde-plasma-daisy. It can be a circular dock or a panel, explore the settings.
top

Internet

The Fedora KDE spin comes with Konquerer as its browser. Korora has Firefox as the default. If like me you prefer Google Chrome or Chromium (or possibly other choices like Opera) as your browser you will find the option in Chrome to set as default browser doesn’t work and Chrome will continually give you the option to set it. Select the option to not show again and then go to KDE’s System Settings – Default Applications and select Web Browser. Select “in the following browser” and click on the icon to the right. Select Internet in there and select Chrome.

Also go to System Settings – Advanced – File Associations and change the html setting.

If you use kwallet to store your Chrome passwords it will ask for the password to open kwallet every time you land on a site with a login available. To stop this go to System Settings – Account Details – Kwallet and select “Close Wallet when Last Application stops using it”, also unselect “Close When unused for “

Network Manager

KDE has its own Network Management widget which usually appears on the panel. Some network connections may not show up in it, some wifi and mobile broadband connections have been reported as having this problem. One fix is to replace it with Gnome’s Network Manager applet. Follow this guide to do this on Korora and Fedora.
top

Language Etc.

If you live anywhere but the US (which seems to be the default for most things) go to System Settings – Locale (previously Regional and Language) and set your country. This should give you mostly correct options for things like currency, measure and paper (A4 in much of the world not Legal) but you also need to set the correct language on the Spell Checker screen.
top

Date and Time

The Date and Time option in System Settings only lets you set the date and time and time zone. To set the options for formatting the date and time go to System Settings – Locale (previously Regional & Language).
top

Latest Version

If often takes some time for the latest version of KDE to be released to updates however it is possible to get the latest version soon after it is released. There is a KDE Testing repository for Fedora. Note that it is testing and sometimes things can break. If you still want to try it out use the following commands, one at a time, in a terminal. You will need to rerun the last command as root from time to time to check for further updates.

su -</span>
<pre> curl http://apt.kde-redhat.org/apt/kde-redhat/fedora/kde.repo -o /etc/yum.repos.d/kde.repo
 yum update @kde --enablerepo=kde*,u*g --disablerepo=kde-unstable

You can check which version you have with the command

kde4-config --version

top

Further Help

Check out the Fedora forums and KDE mailing lists (or your distro’s equivalent)  and the KDE forums. There is also the KDE Userbase. For Korora support go to Korora Engage.

“KDE, K Desktop Environment and the KDE Logo are trademarks of KDE e.V.”
top

4 responses to “KDE Tips & Hints

  1. Excellent primer for those of us who are new to Korora’s KDE version. Thanks, Jim!

  2. Slobodan

    I don’t use Korora (or Fedora), but excellent tips nevertheless.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s