KDE 4.2

I’ve been a Gnome user ever I started using Linux a little over 2 years ago.

Sure I’ve flirted with other WM and DE but Gnome always stayed my favorite.

When KDE 4 came out it looked promising but I was not impressed with it at all.

It was slow, had lots of bugs and not much going for it really besides it’s looks.

KDE 4.1 was more of the same, still not impressed.

That all changed when version 4.2 came out a little while ago.

I now use KDE 4.2 and haven’t looked back.

Why? Keep reading.

See end of article for installation instructions.


Kwin is the (compositing) Window Manager and is too slow for me.

I’ve always like Compiz Fusion for it good balance between performance and eyecandy, Kwin is lacking that balance.

So I dumped it in favor of Compiz Fusion.

Dumping Kwin for Compiz Fusion also means you loose the plasmoids.

I don’t care about those, I prefer my Desktop clean and tidy.


A KDE 4.2 destkop running Compiz Fusion


KDE 4.2 looks great and that is the biggest reason I switched to it.

I just got tired of the same old Gnome looks.

Sure you can theme it, but you are still stuck with those 1999ish looking panels.

The theme and icon themes looks pretty damn good, they just look more refined than any Gtk theme or icon theme I’ve seen.

As you can see from the screenshot posted earlier, the big ass bottom panel is gone in favor of a Vista-ish panel.

And just as with Vista, I like it.


Having used Nautilus, PCmanFM and Thunar this is a pleasant surprise.

It looks really great.

It thought Explorer.exe  in Windows 7 looked great, this surpasses it.

It might not have ftp and ssh support (at least it didn’t in previous kde versions) but it does have more “views” and a great preview feature (with comments you can add yourself).

It can’t compare speed wise to PCmanFm or Thunar but it’s on par with Nautilus.

And lets face it, you won’t run this DE on a 7 year old machine, my PC can handle it just fine.

Dolphin, the KDE file manager.

Dolphin, the KDE file manager.

Kickoff Launcher

I know there was a buzz about this one when KDE 4 came out (mostly bad) and I don’t really know if it has changed a lot, but it seems to get the job done.

There is a search field built into it that makes it very easy to quickly find an application.

If you want to go through the menus it is a bit slower than doing the same on Gnome but the favorites and search features make up for it.

Most people only use a select number of applications on a regular basis so they might actually be able to get to their apps faster using this menu instead of the Gnome one.

The KDE 4.2 Kickoff Launcher showing the Favorite tab.

The KDE 4.2 Kickoff Launcher showing the Favorite tab.

The KDE 4.2 Kickoff launcher showing the search feature.

The KDE 4.2 Kickoff launcher showing the search feature.

Amarok 2

Amarok and KDE is like gin and tonic, they just go well together.

The first Amarok version was consider the best audio player/manager on Linux.

The second version is surely different but I actually like it better.

It’s focus is on playlists and that’s a new approach.

I’m not going to do a full review on it, just check it out and see if you like it.

Amarok 2 running on KDE 4.2

Amarok 2 running on KDE 4.2


There are loads of great GTK apps out there and if you like to run them using another WM or DE then Gnome, you might find that they look horrible.

In comes Gtk-Qt.

It makes your Gtk apps blend into KDE.

It’s not perfect but it helps.

After installation (and restarting X) there will be a  mentioning of it in the Appearance application (System Settings -> Appearance).

Making your GTK applications blend in in KDE using Gtk-Qt

Making your GTK applications blend in in KDE using Gtk-Qt

Installation instructions

(k,x)Ubuntu 8.10 instructions

Install KDE 4.2: http://www.kubuntu.org/news/kde-4.2

Install Amarok 2: http://www.vibgyorlife.com/article/article.aspx?cid=8&id=532

Install Gtk-Qt:   In a terminal enter the following command

sudo apt-get install gtk-qt-engine-kde4

Arch Linux instructions

Become root or use sudo if you have it installed. I suggest you install yaourt, it will make your life easier.

Update the system

pacman -Syu

Install yaourt


Install KDE 4.2

yaourt -S kde

Install Amarok 2

yaourt -S amarok2

Install Gtk-Qt

yaourt -S gtk-qt-engine

Is it KDE of Windows 7?


Have anything to add? Don’t agree? Let me know in the comments.

    • Anxious Nut
    • February 11th, 2009

    Yeah okay, When Kubuntu 8.10 first got out, i downloaded it immediately; thinking of switching too it. But seriously after trying it for 2 days, i gotta say this word “EYE-CANDY”. I like the way how they made things look good, but i myself prefer professional looking stuff, I don’t like eye-candy that much; and that is why i am using Gnome with out Compiz Fusion, I like the way it was when first installed.

    Hey, everybody has a different view of stuff, I prefer Gnome, others prefer Xfce, or maybe KDE, you never know. I’m glad you found something you like and suits you right! 🙂

    Anyhow, Just wanna tell those who doesn’t know and are using ubuntu, you don’t have to download Kubuntu if you want to try it, all you have to do is to download “KDE” from your Synaptic, and it’ll work like a charm, tried it! thanX!

    • Bill Goldberg
    • February 11th, 2009


    Sure you don’t have to download Kubuntu, but you do needs those repositories in the link.

    After you added those you can install either just kde 4.2 or kubuntu-desktop.

    Kubuntu-desktop is kde 4.2 with extra applications installed.

    • Haisen
    • February 12th, 2009

    I got tired of Gnome too. Kde 4 is looking great.

    • Anxious Nut
    • February 12th, 2009

    Please stop looking at how it looks, try to find something practical, I’m not telling you to not use KDE, but what I’m trying to say is, don’t switch because of its cool interface and then you have a hard time with it, and there is a chance that you’ll not find it practical.

    Look, from all the people that I know and have converted to KDE were looking at the eye-candy and stuff. Please don’t get me wrong here, I just want you to know that not every thing looks cool is good, but there are exceptions, and if you find KDE an exception, after trying it for more than 3 days and you’re okay with it, then switch to it, don’t make fast decisions! I just don’t want you to regret anything. And BTW, I think I’m gonna give it another chance 😉

    • Bill Goldberg
    • February 12th, 2009

    I’ve been using it for a week or 2 now and it’s running great.

    I still use the same applications as I did on Gnome (except the file manager).

    • fred
    • February 13th, 2009

    @Anxious Nut
    People use KDE not only because of eye candy, but also because of great and modern technologies (that might not be related to eye candy) behind it. Great example of KDE’s modern technology: KIO, KPart, Akonadi, Strigi, Nepomuk, KOffice

  1. Yep. I was converted by KDE 4.1 – which was only for geeks who don’t mind going into things with a spanner in their hand, but promised a great 4.2.

    • s
    • February 13th, 2009

    Nice to see a new post from you, bill.
    I wondered if there is finally a possibility to get rid of that blue-ish look in kde. I know, there are themes, but I never found a good-looking theme for KDE 4.x which doesn’t use blue, black and grey.

    • likes
    • February 13th, 2009

    What wallpaper(s) is that? I like it. Where can I find it?


    • Boo Radley
    • February 13th, 2009

    “KDE 4.2 looks great and that is the biggest reason I switched to it.”

    Oy. Stopped reading right there…

  2. “Dumping Kwin for Compiz Fusion also means you loose the plasmoids.”

    Really? I can see a couple of them in your screenshot. ;P

    • Bill Goldberg
    • February 15th, 2009

    @ Hans:

    I meant the things on your desktop. Not the ones on the panel.

    @ Boo:

    You can do what you want.

    I like my desktop to look pretty. And I retain my functionality because I still use Compiz Fusion and Gtk+ apps.

    • Bill Goldberg
    • February 15th, 2009

    @ Likes:

    They came from kde-look.

    I don’t remember the name and I’m my other computer now so I can’t find the name.

    • Boo Radley
    • February 17th, 2009

    Bill Goldberg says: “@ Boo:

    You can do what you want.

    I like my desktop to look pretty. And I retain my functionality because I still use Compiz Fusion and Gtk+ apps.”

    Yes, I know that… just basing your primary criteria for desktop environment on looks made me feel the rest of the article would not be worth reading or have much depth (and I was right)

    BTW, I’m sure you’re aware that GNOME is just as themeable and can be just as “pretty” as KDE (without all the bugs)…

  3. Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

    • Angus
    • March 18th, 2009

    “Dumping Kwin for Compiz Fusion also means you loose the plasmoids.”

    What are you talking about here? Which window manager you’re running doesn’t have any effect on whether or not you can use plasmoids.

    “It might not have ftp and ssh support (at least it didn’t in previous kde versions)”

    Dolphin has ftp and ssh support. In fact, nearly every KDE app has ftp and ssh support thanks to KIOslaves. Just hit CTRL-L and enter ftp://servername or fish://servername in the location bar. You can access just about anything you can think of. For instance. Put an audio cd in your drive and enter “audiocd:/” in dolphin and you’re presented with several different directories (FLAC, MP3, Ogg, CDA). Drag and drop one of these folders and it automatically reencodes the songs for you. Some other KIOslaves include nfs, smb, man, tar, help, and locate.

      • yksi
      • November 19th, 2009

      I wonder if you can help me…
      I used to be using fedora (due to university suggestion) however soon got tired of it and went back to kubunut (9.10)
      I used to use the ctrl L feature on fedora which worked successfully bringing up a graphical file browser..
      How do i get the same on kubuntu? cntrl l on the desktop does not do anything, and running ssh://host@web.org/ brings it up in terminal which i struggle with
      can you recommend a gui that does this (other than using fish:// on konquerer)
      many thanks if yo0u could help me

  4. I’d love to use KDE. KDE generally seems more polished deeper and possibly a better OS. I just can’t seem to find the global switch to use some other color than that Windows 3.1 looking blue for the folders. Manilla works fine for me. Or even brown. Why does KDE have to be married to blue? It touts its configurability but seems to draw the line at getting rid of the blue folders. The only thing I found the few times I’ve booted up the live release seems to force one to change three folder icon states as opposed to simple global folder color change. Even then I still get blue folders in places.
    I can’t get past that so its Gnome until then. (I do prefer Synaptic though) And what’s with the silly boinging wait cursor as a default? It seems a contradiction to the rest of the elegance. And then there’s the Firefox foot dragging. I guess they feel unless you use Konqueror, “you just don’t get it”.

  5. sorry not OS but GUI

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