Kubuntu Quantal Desktop Add-ons


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Kubuntu Quantal Desktop Add-ons
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Desktop Add-ons

There are many add-on icons, themes, wallpapers, 3-D effects, and other customizations available for the KDE desktop.

  • KDE Apps has applications for the KDE desktop.
  • KDE Look has wallpapers, splash screens, icons, and themes for windows managers (including Kwin and Compiz) and other applications.

KDE Artwork

KDE Artwork is the package that contains themes, wallpapers, screensavers, widget styles, emoticons, and miscellaneous multimedia enhancers for the current KDE theme. Install:

sudo apt-get install kdeartwork

Change background wallpaper

A variety of choices to use for the background screen wallpaper are available, including a slideshow of images set to change at a determined interval, a Picture of the Day obtained from one of several online sources, a Mandelbrot pattern, a Weather forecast display, or a map selected from one of several sources.

KDE Cashew (upper-right corner) -> Desktop Settings -> View -> Wallpaper: <select wallpaper method>
  • Note: The kdeplasma-addons package may need to be added to your system for all options to work.

Change Plymouth Splash Screen

This is the initial splash screen you see at bootup. Different Plymouth themes can be found by searching for plymouth-theme in a Package Manager. Install a new one and then:

sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth
sudo update-initramfs -u

Plymouth does not reliably work (with nVidia and other graphics drivers) and during bootup a blank screen may result for several seconds.

Customize Screen lock

  • From KDE 4.12 and later, the Screen lock mechanism is activated from the settings menu:
Settings -> System Settings -> Display and Monitor -> Screen Locker
  • Prior to KDE 4.12, the Screen lock mechanism is activated as part of a screensaver:
Settings -> System Settings -> Display and Monitor -> Screen Saver


Add Plasma Widgets to the desktop

Plasma has replaced Kicker in Kubuntu. Plasma comes with plenty of applets/widgets (called plasmoids or widgets) that you can use on the desktop. Also see the KDE 4.3 Plasma FAQ or the KDE 4.4 Plasma FAQ.

  • Click on the Plasma icon in the upper right of the desktop.
  • "Add Widgets" and select from one of the already installed widgets/plasmoids.
  • Example: Add the Picture Frame widget/plasmoid (Plasma Picture of the Day). This will display either a single image or a slideshow of images from a folder or from a variety of Internet sources. Click on the wrench icon to choose the source.
  • Example: Add the Comic Strip widget/plasmoid. This will display a comic strip from the Internet. Click on the wrench icon to choose the comic strip, such as Dilbert.
  • "Install New Widgets".
  • "Download new Plasma Widgets" to choose a widget/plasmoid from KDE-look.
  • Example: Add Widgets -> Install New Widgets -> Download new Plasma Widgets -> Order by: Highest Rated -> Google Translator -> Install. Then Add Widgets -> Google Translator (to put it on your desktop).
  • To add support for webpage widgets written in HTML and JavaScript and for the Apple Mac OS X dashboard widgets you first may need to install the WebKit script engine:
sudo apt-get install plasma-scriptengine-webkit
  • Note: There may be problems installing Mac OS X widgets in some versions of KDE. See this KDE forum thread.
  • For troubleshooting the addition of plasmoids in KDE 4.5 see this page.
  • A large collection of KDE plasma widget addons can be installed:
sudo apt-get install kdeplasma-addons
sudo apt-get install plasma-widgets-addons

Add scripting for Plasma Widgets

Many installable widgets use customised scripts (written in Ruby, Perl, Python, Java, or another scripting language). Each may require installation of a scripting engine. All the script engines can be installed at once:

sudo apt-get install plasma-scriptengines

Run widgets in a screensaver

Add Plasma Widget packages

A large number of Plasma Widgets are available as packages, not as widget add-ons. To find a list of these, search for plasma-widget in your package manager (e.g. Muon or Synaptic). For example, to install the Flickr plasma widget, install the plasma-widget-flickr package. Similar complete packages include Google Calendar, Fortunoid, Translatoid, Customizable Weather, Next Wallpaper, and other plasmoid packages.

SuperKaramba Desktop Widgets / Gadgets

SuperKaramba is a tool that allows you to create themes and widgets.

sudo apt-get install superkaramba-kde4


KWin is the default Windows Manager in Kubuntu. It provides the 3-D effects previously available only in Compiz Fusion.

  • To enable these effects:
K menu -> System -> System Settings -> Desktop -> General -> "Enable Desktop effects"
  • Choose which effects to use:
K menu -> System -> System Settings -> Desktop -> Desktop Effects -> All Effects

Compiz Fusion

Compiz Fusion is also available as a separate Windows Manager to allow 3D desktop effects such as the rotating cube desktop. Some Kubuntu users choose to run Compiz instead of KWin. Install:

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-kde compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra emerald librsvg2-common

To change to Compiz as the Window Manager:

K menu -> System Settings -> Advanced -> Session Manager -> Window Manager -> Compiz

Note: You must logout and log back in for the change to take effect.

  • Select Compiz Configuration:
K menu -> Settings -> CompizConfig Settings Manager

Fusion Icon

Fusion Icon is a tray icon that allows you to easily switch between window managers (such as between KWin and Compiz), window decorators, and gives you quick access to the Settings Manager. This allows quick toggling of 3-D desktop effects (that may not be compatible with some applications).

sudo apt-get install fusion-icon
  • Start:
K menu -> System -> Compiz Fusion Icon

You can then easily access CompizConfig Settings Manager from the icon.

Rotate the Compiz Cube

Set the CompizConfig Settings Manager to enable the "Desktop Cube" and "Rotate Cube" and "Viewport Switching" options. Click on the icon for each to customize settings. For example, to change the appearance of the cube, click on the Desktop Cube icon to access its settings. You can set the hotkey buttons for rotating the cube in the "Viewport Switching" settings. Otherwise, hold down the Ctrl+Alt+Left mouse button and drag the mouse (or touchpad) the direction you want to rotate the cube.

Remember, the cube rotates between desktops. It's not a cube unless you have at least 4 desktops running. You will not get a cube if you are only using 2 desktops (you will get a "plate"). You can still rotate the sides of the plate, of course, but it will not be a cube. (Recent users from the Windows OS may have no experience with the concept of simultaneous desktops, but they are nice once you learn how to use them).

When running Compiz fusion as the Windows Manager, you must change the default number of desktops from within CompizConfig Settings Manger. To enable 4 desktops:

K menu -> System -> CompizConfig Settings Manager -> General -> General Options -> Desktop -> Horizontal Virtual Size -> 4

When you start an application, you can assign it to any one of the 4 desktops by right-clicking the upper left corner of the application window and choosing the "To Desktop..." option. Rotating the cube shows the different desktops. You can also go to a desktop using the taskbar icon which shows the 4 desktops.


Emerald is the theme engine for Compiz Fusion. Multiple themes are available from KDE Look, some of which are used in KWin as well. Oxygen, a default theme in Kubuntu, is an Emerald theme, for example. (These themes originated from the Beryl project before it merged with Compiz to form Compiz Fusion.) Emerald is not in the Quantal 12.04 LTS default repositories.


deKorator is a window decoration engine for KDE. You can easily install lots of themes with this engine. See the installation instructions at KDE Look.

Google Desktop

Google Desktop for Linux was a proprietary suite of Google widgets and applications. It was discontinued in September 2011.

Dock applications

There are several are dock-like applications for (K)Ubuntu. A dock represents running programs as icons at the bottom of the screen (as is done on the Mac OS X desktop), instead of by toolbar panel segments (as is done in Windows and other Linux window managers). See this brief comparison of dock applications. Also see this Kubuntu forums thread for example implementations.

Of course, the default panel bar can be dragged to any screen edge (Unlock Widgets -> Panel Options -> Panel Settings -> Screen Edge) and the icon for any menu item added to it (Menu -> menu item -> <right-click> -> Add to Panel). This closely resembles the appearance of a docking application.

Icon-Only Taskbar Manager

This plasma widget is available in the default KDE desktop:

KDE Cashew -> Unlock Widgets -> Add Widgets -> Icon-Only Task Manager
  • The Icon-Only Task Manager has a horizontal orientation by default. To orient it vertically, add it to a vertically oriented empty panel:
KDE Cashew -> Unlock Widgets -> Add Panel -> Empty Panel -> Panel Settings
-> Screen Edge -> (Drag to desired edge)
-> Width (adjust width) -> (adjust vertical height with slide handles)
-> Add Widgets -> Icon-Only Task Manger -> (double-click)

Fancy Tasks

Fancy Tasks is a dock application for KDE. Download and install the plasma widget (.deb package for Kubuntu) from the KDE-look website.

Cairo Dock

Cairo Dock can be used either with a desktop compositing manager (such as Compiz or the KDE4 Kwin Window Manager) or without one. See the Ubuntu installation instructions for details. It is available from the repositories:

sudo apt-get install cairo-dock cairo-dock-plugins

Then choose whether to run the OpenGL version or the non-OpenGL version:

K Menu -> System - GLX-Dock (Cairo-Dock with OpenGL)
K menu -> System -> Cairo-Dock (no OpenGL)

Note: To check which compositing method (OpenGL or Xrender) is in use by KWin, check your settings:

K menu -> Settings -> System Settings -> Desktop Effects -> Advanced -> Compositing type: OpenGL

Avant Window Navigator

  • Avant Window Navigator requires that a desktop composition manager (such as Kwin (Kubuntu/KDE), Metacity (Ubuntu/Gnome), Compiz, Xcompmgr, or xfwm4 (Xubuntu)) be installed and running.
  • Install and upgrade proprietary nVidia or ATI graphics drivers so that the compositing manager functions properly.
  • Install AWN:
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator awn-manager
(Note: If you are using Gnome (Ubuntu) and do not already have a compositing manager installed (such as Compiz), Metacity will be installed as part of the installation.)
  • Enable automatic startup of AWN at bootup:
  • Menu -> System -> Preferences -> Sessions -> Add...
  • Select which applets should run from the dock menu by default:
  • Menu -> Applications -> Accessories -> Avant Window Navigator Manager
You can drag application icons onto the list, then activate or deactivate the applets from the list.

Yakuake command-line terminal

Yakuake is a stylish command line terminal similar to (and based on) Konsole.

sudo apt-get install yakuake
  • Enable it:
K menu -> System -> Yakuake

Use it by pressing F12.

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