The fast and elegant KDE

Although the release of Debian 7 is approaching, in this post "We will show the Way" to build a custom desktop environment based on KDE in Debian Squeeze. I think it will be useful even for the next version that according to comments in the WWW Village, comes by default with the Xfce. Specifically we will touch on the following topics:


We start from a normal installation WITHOUT getting to install the graphic environment. During installation by any means, be it the first DVD or a CD, always remember to uncheck the option "Graphical desktop environment" in the Program Selection dialog. We are going to make a custom KDE Desktop. It is always better and easier to add -install- than subtract -purge- packages.

After the first restart we must carry out the following operations:

  • Log in as the normal user that we declared during the installation.
  • Check the host name and the domain to which it belongs.
  • Declare the appropriate repositories and update the list of possible packages to install.
  • Install and configure the "sudo".
  • Adjust the font size during system startup.
  • Install the console mode survival applications: mc ”Midnight Commander”, gpm ”General Purpose Mouse interface” and htop ”Interactive Process Viewer”.

sudo aptitude install mc gpm htop

Tip: If during startup we see that the MTA or Mail Transport Agent "Exim" takes a long time to start and we want to remove it, it is best to install Ssmtp and let the system remove Exim using the command:

sudo aptitude install ssmtp

How to install a base system in KDE?

Install the package kde-plasma-desktop It's a good start. Meta package that installs the desktop core, the minimum amount of basic applications, and important libraries and data. Among the applications we find the Konqueror web browser, Dolphin file manager, Kwrite text editor, system configuration, panel, etc. We invoke the KDE console through the command console.

sudo aptitude install kde-plasma-desktop kde-l10n-es
sudo reboot

After restarting we already have a graphical environment in which to work.

How to disable services in KDE?

To save resources we stop the Desktop Search. Click on the icon KDE Menu -> System Preferences -> Advanced -> Desktop Search, and in the form shown, we uncheck the options "Enable Strigi desktop search"And"Enable the Nepomuk semantic desktop"


Then, click on the arrow "Overview”, We return to the tab "Advanced" and click on the icon "Service Manager".

In the form that is shown, we search among the "Startup Services" the so-called "Nepomuk search module" and we see that it is running unnecessarily. We uncheck the option "Use".

Also a little further down, we see another service that we can disable if we are not installing on a Laptop. We mean the service "PowerDevil". Since I am installing on a Laptop, I leave it as is and running. Let's see how to disable them by clicking on the button "Apply", execution stops.

Disable services that use the network

If we are not working connected to a network, we can disable the services related to networks. If we are not connected to the Internet and it is not vital to find out when the System Updates o Update Notifier, we can also stop this service. Another we can stop is the Free Space Notifier. We can always return services to their original state.

All of the above is to reduce the consumption of resources in terms of processor, memory and access to the hard disk. However, we are free to leave them as they are installed by default.


How to set the default Spanish language?

We define that the default Language will be Spanish, and we select the type of font and its size through the "System preferences”. Working with those Preferences is very intuitive and easy. We will only expand when it refers to a critical point.

Declare the language

To declare the language, we go to KDE Menu -> Sietma Preferences -> Region and Language, and in the form shown, click on the button whose title will appear in English possibly "Add language" and we add the Spanish language. For those who write in English it is convenient to also add that language and then upload Spanish to the default language.

After installing all the recommended packages the Spanish translation improves a lot. We close session and enter again. In the same way, we can configure many other features before continuing the installation.

Recommended programs for KDE

Synaptic, graphical package manager; Deborphan, which will help us -among other aspects- to eliminate orphan libraries using the command sudo orphaner; Gdebi-kde to Install downloaded .deb packages; rare y Unite:

sudo aptitude install synaptic deborphan gdebi-kde rar unrar

Please note: there are very few console commands that we must type to have a basic environment. The manager used in KDE was Adept. Currently the versions of him that we find in Ubuntu Lucid and Maverick, are Betas. Squeeze doesn't bring it in the main repositories, which are the ones I own. I prefer and recommend Synaptic as a graphical package manager. From now on you can use this graphical program to install the rest of the packages. The "look" will not be very pretty until you do what is indicated in How to integrate GTK applications into the KDE desktop?

Kde-standard; Additional desktop themes and icons; Obtain a "Look" consistent for KDE and GTK + applications; dictionary myspell-it:

sudo aptitude install kde-standard kdeartwork qtcurve kde-config-gtk-style myspell-es

View SWF files with Konqueror:

sudo aptitude install konqueror-plugin-gnash

Office Suite, which can be KOffice or OpenOffice o LibreOffice; Okular-extra-backends to view .chm documents and other formats; digiKam for managing photos and images:

sudo aptitude install okular-extra-backends digikam

Tip:: If you are going to install OpenoOffice on a 64-bit Squeeze, I recommend installing the package first tzdata-java o "Time Zone Java" and accept the solution proposed by aptitude to downgrade the installed tzdata.

sudo aptitude install tzdata-java

aRts, official audio system for the KDE; Amarok, in my opinion the best manager - music player; K3b, also, and in my opinion, the best program to burn; Vlc; kdemultimedia, official KDE module (the Juk is a music player that will already be installed):

sudo aptitude install arts amarok k3b k3b-extrathemes k3b-i18n vlc kdemultimedia

Tip: Start the VlC. Go to Menu -> Tools -> Preferences -> Audio -> Output module, and select "UNIX OSS audio output" so that it works correctly with aRts. You can also go to Tools -> Preferences -> Video -> Output and choose "Video output X11 (XCB)"

Krfb: utility to share the desktop via VNC.

Yakuake- Retractable console for console lovers like me.

Krusader: double pane file manager - commander type - very useful. I recommend installing the tools before the Krusader kdiff3: compare and mix 2 or 3 files or directories; krename: to rename files; and compressors lzma, lha, and arj.

System-config-printer-kde y Printer-applet: Utility to configure printers and applet to manage print jobs.

Firefox: No introduction required. Download a .tar.gz from Firefoxmanía, unzip it in a folder and use it !. Now, declaring it as the default browser and integrating it into the system is another story. They can also install the Iceweasel those who don't like Konqueror.

GIMP: Program for manipulating images.

So far we have an elegant desktop with a good number of applications to start working and / or enjoying. With KDE4 I think something similar happened to what happened with GNOME3. Many of us made a strong rejection at first. Personally I use GNOME 2.30.02 which is the one that comes with the Squeeze by default. I used KDE with Etch and Lenny for some time. When I first saw KDE4, I immediately rejected it. But since I have heard so much praise for this Desktop, I decided to install and test it on my Laptop and the truth is that it suits me for it. The changes I make are the Menu in the classic or old style, and open files with double click.

How to integrate GTK applications into the KDE desktop?

I use the QtCurve windows style that the package gives me qtcurve, and through the package kde-config-gtk-style and the System Preferences, I configure the style of the GTK applications to obtain an even “look” of the whole environment. We can also install the package gtk-qt-engine and select the QT 4 style, among others. We do the configuration of the appearance of these applications through KDE Menu -> System Preferences -> Appearance -> GTK Styles and fonts.


Consumption of resources

Regarding the Consumption of Resources, without activating the integrated “Composition” (Composer, Compiz) of the desktop, the consumption of RAM remains low. And I say "low" because this desktop environment is supposed to be for mid-range computers. If I activate Composition, then it increases, but the environment is gracefully beautified. When selecting the Composition, if our video card does not accept OpenGL extensions, in the “Advanced"Of"Stationery", We can select the Type of composition"XRender" and try. Consumption will vary according to the hardware we have; to if we install the 64-bit distro, etc.


We can customize KDE even more -almost to the point of exhaustion- especially with regard to the appearance and installation of more packages or applications. If you want to have a look at the whole KDE, install the package kde-full. If you want to go little by little, check out the meta packages:

  • kdeadmin: tools for system administration.
  • kdegraphics: graphic applications.
  • kdeedu: educational applications.
  • kdegames: games.
  • kdenetwork: applications for networks.
  • kdeutils: general purpose utilities.
  • kdepim: Personal Information Management, or applications for the Management of Personal Information.
  • kdesdk: Software Development Kit, or kit for application development.
  • kdetoys: "Toys" for the Desktop.
  • kdewebdev: Collection of applications for web development.
  • koffice: office suite.
  • qt4-designer: Many people think that KDE is the optimal Desktop for programming. Qt4 is a Framework for the development of cross-platform applications, using C ++ or other languages ​​such as Python. Its main feature is the wide collection of "widgets" for the design of Graphical User Interfaces or GUI.

kde-full, in addition to the aforementioned meta packages, it also depends on the kde-plasma-desktop. On the other hand, we can install GNOME applications or others to further enrich our desktop.

The style of the default menu, we can change it to the classic or old style by right clicking on the icon and selecting "Switch to the classic style ...”. We can return in the same way to the style "Kickoff”. We can customize practically anything we want. And since that is a personal task, which would occupy a book with many pages of images and texts, I leave it for you to do. :-)

Please consult the Great and Detailed help that KDE brings, and I hope you enjoy this sleek and fast desktop.


The characteristics of my Laptop?
Fujitsu LifeBook; Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo CPU; T5250 @ 1.50GHz; ; cache size: 2048 KB; RAM: 2003 KB

Resource consumption without stationery


The next installment: How to customize the KDM?

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  1.   THE GENERALA said

    congratulations, here we are on the net. congrats, good luck and forward either Linux or Windows and what is Ibuntu
    for me it is still Chinese ...

    1.    Samir said

      Are you on another pc or do you use Vista and IE ???

  2.   Cristianhcd said

    could you do a tutorial on how to leave razor qt that well plisssssssss

    1.    truko22 said

      I thought the same 😀

  3.   kik1n said

    Well, if you want to return to Debian, but Ubuntu runs very well.

  4.   kik1n said

    How can I install firefox 32 on debian?
    I download the tar, install it in / opt, and link to / usr / bin, but it won't open.

    After installing the base system, I do dpkg –add-architecture i386 && aptitude update

    1.    Rots87 said

      Why don't you try they are just sudo firefox aptitude, it should be easier than looking for the tar, in case you don't want because the version is outdated (which I don't like about debian) try looking for it in other repositories to have the current

      1.    kik1n said

        It is not in your firefox repos, it has iceweacel.

  5.   kik1n said

    How can I install firefox 32 on debian?
    I download the tar, install it in / opt, and link to / usr / bin, but it won't open.

    After installing the base system, I do dpkg –add-architecture i386 && aptitude update

    Use debian 64

    1.    dhunter said

      Do you install the 32 libraries? xulrunner and so on?

    2.    ariki said

      could you take a look at the following link, greetings

  6.   Samir said

    Very good article, hopefully Debian 7 arrives as soon as possible.

    1.    dhunter said

      On this page are the missing bugs to release Wheezy, today 25 says there are 52 bugs to correct. (half that of last week) I mean we are going full throttle.

  7.   Leo said

    Cute tutto. The truth is that KDE has gained a lot of ground, I have it in Chakra and it works quite well on a Sempron 2.1Hz (although the start leaves much to be desired).

    But in the week I start going back to Gnome to test how much progress I have made since I left it in that strange version 3.0

    1.    Mr Black said

      I have Chakra in a Sempron 2.7 GHz and 3 Gigs of ram and it is true that it takes a while to start but it runs very well, when I installed it I thought it was going to be a turtle. Now disable Nepomuk, let's see ..

  8.   xxmlud said

    KDE is VERY GOOD, for computers with many resources and low resources (Without going overboard), but as they say, the boot leaves much to be desired. But I hope that in the not too distant future the boot will become lighter (Please)


  9.   TUDz said

    I am happy in openSUSE 12.3 but without a doubt I will try Debian 7, either on a virtual machine. Obviously with KDE on top xD I wonder if there is a way to put KDE 4.10 on top of Wheezy.

    1.    elav said

      You will find it with Tanglu.

  10.   Supreme said

    Query for those of you who use KDE:

    The times I have tried KDE (with XFCE it happens to me too) on a laptop, when connecting a monitor you have to configure the screens each time and when you disconnect the monitor, the pointer continues to go to the desktop of the monitor that is no longer connected, I understand It does not detect that it has been disconnected.

    I know that Unity does this automatically, it saves the position, resolution of the monitor and every time you connect everything goes as you configured it the first time.

    I don't like Gnome or Unity, but it seems very heavy to be around xrandr, which is the least uncomfortable I know ...

    If anyone knows a solution, please tell me !! I'm up to the ***** of Gnome 3 😡

    1.    msx said

      On the monitor setup screen you can choose to save the current layout as the default.

  11.   ferchmetal said

    Good tuto thanks

  12.   Mariano said

    Sorry, but wouldn't it be more convenient to use rcconf and disable the exim daemon from boot?

  13.   Diego Campos said

    Speaking of KDE ... in my opinion, it is the most powerful desktop in the UNIX world, if you are looking for a perfect integration with LibreOffice in KDE I recommend this post ===> (The third comment is the real solution) In my opinion this is the final solution to the LibreOffice integration in KDE.


    1.    Diego Campos said

      Second comment, it is the second not the third (The third does not exist), I was wrong: S

  14.   kitty said


    To visually integrate Firefox with KDE I recommend using the Oxygen KDE theme:

    Always within the same theme, the visual integration of GTK applications in KDE, I recommend installing KDE GTK Configurator:

    Although it is an official KDE project, apparently it does not come yet, this software, by default, in a minimal installation of KDE on any distro.

    What the KDE GTK Configurator does is add a module to the KDE configuration, which allows you to install and select GTK themes for applications with such interfaces, which run within KDE. Once the module is installed, to access it, go to: System Preferences> Application Appearance> GTK Configuration

    But as you think, KDE GTK Configurator is not much use if we do not have a GTK theme that is according to the KDE style. This is why I recommend installing Oxygen GTK:

    This theme is a GTK “clone” of the KDE Oxygen theme. It is also an official project of the KDE team but it is not yet added to KDE by default (just like KDE GTK Configurator)

    Finally, and always in the field of visual integration of GTK applications in KDE, I also recommend installing Oxigen GTK Icons:

    This is an icon theme for GTK applications, based on the KDE Oxygen theme. Once they have it installed they can select it to be used in KDE GTK Configurator, just like the Oxygen GTK theme

    With that GTK applications in KDE will look great.


    1.    Mara said

      Gatoso, in Firefox you can also install the extension that disables the compatibility check and then install the theme that you like the most (I, for example, like the Strata style and they integrate well):

      For all other GTK program configurations, at least on PCLinuxOS with KDE, lxappearance works fine (originally made to configure GTK applications in LXDE, but that in KDE also works). You can touch absolutely all the parameters, from letters, to icons.

      One last reminder. In aMule you can change the icons in preferences / interface and set the Oxygen.

  15.   codelab said

    Congratulations on the article. Excellent!

  16.   Alexandra said

    Very good post, very good tips and everything!
    Excellent, excellent ajjaa

  17.   Mortrel said

    Yes, I agree with Diego, by far the best KDE. Well, nothing to say, excellent post, very detailed and with good tips 🙂


  18.   Federico Antonio Valdés Toujague said

    I want to thank you all for your comments .. Seriously, thank you very much 🙂