How to sexify/improve KDE4 (even further)

On its own, the default KDE4 desktop Kubuntu-KDE4 gives you is pretty damn sexy. We can improve on it, though.

1. Improve how GTK applications appear.
This is about the most obvious rough patch of the Kubuntu-KDE4 look-n-feel. One of the most common complaints I hear about KDE4 is how fugly Firefox and other GTK applications look. This is actually a two-pronged problem.

-It is partly a KDE bug.
If you had selected a GTK theme other than the default one, GTK apps should not revert to the ugly default theme. This bug has been recently fixed in KDE /trunk.

-It is partly not a bug at all.
It’s true, GTK applications not having the samw look-and-feel as your normal, Oxygen-lovin’ Qt applications isn’t actually actually a bug. It’s more of the lack of a gtk-qt theming engine. Regualr old Kubuntu has one, and it works quite well.

Solution: Install gtk-qt-engine-kde4
This package is not installed by default. This package will do the same thing as it’s non-kde4 counterpart, gtk-qt-engine, theming your gtk applications with your Qt theme. The KDE4 version of gtk-qt-engine is new software and not without its bugs. Most of them are due to Firefox 3’s new GTK theming capabilities. Firefox 3 (An XUL application) actually “emulates” being having a GTK user interface. Our gtk-qt engine has a few problems dealing with this…

It still looks quite good, anyhow, as you can see from this screenshot.

2. Try a different Plasma widget theme, perhaps?
Even though the ability to change themes via a GUI won’t officially arrive until KDE 4.1 this July, it is still quite possible to change which theme you have. It’s quite simple really.

-First, create the folder ~/.kde4/share/apps/desktoptheme if it doesn’t already exist.
-Download one of the many themes off of KDE-Look. (I made my own theme, for the lulz.)
-Extract the theme to a folder inside
~/.kde4/share/apps/desktoptheme .
-Press Alt+F2, and type in kquitapp plasma. Plasma will go away; don’t worry we can get it back easily!
-Press Alt+F2 again and run Kate, open
~/.kde4/share/config/plasmarc .
-Where it says [Theme], change name=default to name=the name of the theme folder in the desktoptheme directory.
-Save, exit.
-Alt+F2 to bring up Krunner, type “plasma” and hit enter to bring back Plasma.

Plasma should now be sporting a pimpin’ new theme.



3. Get more Plasmoids!
Widgets == sexy. Therefore, more widgets == more sexy. If you haven’t already, install extragear-plasma for more widgets. KDE-Look also has a growing number of 3rd party, non-KDE plasmoids. You can install all of ’em if you’re comfortable compiling things, but don’t worry if you aren’t comfortable with compiling things. I have made Ubuntu packages for the following plasmoids:

Coremoid
This is a plasmoid that can monitor and interact with the cpufreq service. You can monitor cpu usage and manage frequency governers with this Plasmoid.

Email Notify
This is a plasmoid that pings your mail server to let you know how many new messages you have. With this plasmoid there is no need to have your email application open all the time, or even your gmail tab open all the time in your web browser. You can reduce your memory footprint with this plasmoid since you won’t have to have your email client open all the time. As of emailnotify 0.3 Email Notify will behave well in the panel.

Plasma-Wifi
A neat little plasmoid. It is used to give a visualization to your wifi connection strength.

Toggle-compositing
This is a very useful plasmoid. It only has one function, and that is to turn on and off KWin desktop effects. With this you can disable effects before running OpenGL applications or games running in Wine without having to go back to System Settings and disabling it from there.

All of these are as easy to install as a regular program.
Add this:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/echidnaman/ubuntu hardy main

To your Repository list in Adept. Now plasmoids are as easy to install as regular applications. Package names for the plasmoids in my repository are:

coremoid
emailnotify
plasma-wifi
toggle-compositing

That’s it! I hope that you could use at least one of these suggestions. If I think of any other ways to improve the KDE4 desktop experience I’ll post ’em here.

4 Responses to How to sexify/improve KDE4 (even further)

  1. #€|!0$ says:

    Thank you very much for the tip on how to change the plasma theme on KDE4…🙂

  2. Dorin says:

    Do you happend to know if these plasmoids have been packaged for 4.1 beta1 by anyone? Plasmoids from you ppa repo depend on kde 4.0 libraries so people that upgraded to nixternal’s kde4.1 beta packages can’t use them.

  3. JontheEchidna says:

    The plasmoid authors will have to make changes so that the plasmoid will compile for KDE 4.1. Out of the plasmoids I’ve mentioned, only the wifi plasmoid’s author has made the updates afaik.Once they are packaged I’ll need to find a way to offer packages for both KDE 4.0 and KDE 4.1.

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