KDE allows you to easily customize the look and feel of your desktop by controlling different parts of the visual appearance. The combinations are almost endless so you have to play around with them to find which suits your tastes best. This quick guide shows how to configure every part of the KDE visual appearance, however, it’s not necessary to use the examples in this post, you can choose another set of icons, wallpaper etc.

However, if you decide to follow this guide exactly, you’ll get a desktop looking like this:

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If you don’t already have KDE installed, you can get it by typing this command in a terminal. Also, you can have multiple desktop environments installed, just select the one you want at the login screen.

Install KDE 4 on Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

Install KDE 4 on Fedora:
sudo yum groupinstall "KDE Plasma Workspaces"

Once the package manager finished installed, you can log out and choose KDE from the login screen before entering your username and password.

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To change the desktop color theme, go to System Settings > Application Appearance > Colors. Click on Get New Schemes, search for Mac OS X and press the Install button. Then, select perso from the scheme list.

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I found a icon theme that really looks good and provides an icon for most applications. It’s called “Evolvere” and you have to download the .tar.gz package from HERE. Wait a few seconds, click on SKIP AD and save the evolvere-blue-folders-1.1.9.tar.gz package to your Downloads folder for example.

Now, go to System Settings > Application Appearance > Icons, click on Install Theme File button and select the downloaded package. Wait a few seconds for the package to install, select Evolvere Blue Folders from the list and click Apply.

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By default, fonts in KDE look pretty ugly so you have to make a few changes to the settings. Go to System Settings > Application Appearance > Fonts, Enable anti-aliasing and click on Configure. In this dialog, select use sub-pixel rendering as RGB and choose a medium hinting style. As a personal touch, I’m using Dejavu Sans as the default font.

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Window Decoration

Personally, I prefer a single button (close) on the window titlebar because you can minimize/maximize a window by clicking on it on the taskbar, you can get help by pressing F1 and the window menu can be opened by right-clicking on the titlebar. To remove all buttons (except for close) from the titlebar, go to System Settings > Workspace Appearance > Window Decorations and click on Configure Buttons. Here, simply drag and drop the buttons you don’t want to have in the titlebar.

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Desktop Theme

Now, to get a transparent desktop theme (including the transparent taskbar), go to System Settings > Workspace Appearance > Desktop Theme and click on Get New Themes button. In this dialog, search for Diamond, click the Install button and then select Diamond theme from the list.

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Splash Screen

The splash screen appears while KDE is loading, after you enter your username and password and before the KDE desktop shows-up. To install a new one, go to System Settings > Workspace Appearance > Splash Screen, click on Get New Themes, search for Kubuntu Lucid and click the Install button. Then, select it from the list and click Apply.

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Desktop Effects

There are a lot of effects to play around with. For example, let’s see how to set transparency for an inactive window. Go to System Settings > Desktop Effects and click on All Effects tab. Here, look for Translucency and click on the gear box for settings dialog. Set a value for inactive windows, click OK and Apply. In case the Apply button isn’t activated, just check and uncheck another plugin from the list.

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Final Touches

To get two virtual desktops and switch through them with a cube effect, right-click on an empty region of the task bar, then go to Panel Options > Add Widgets. Here, search for Pager and drag’n’drop it just before the system tray. Now right click on the Pager widget and select Pager Settings. From the General tab, make sure display text is set to none, and from the Virtual Desktops tab set the number of desktops to 2. From the Switching tab, select Desktop Cube Animation.

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Now, right click on the taskbar and select Task Manager Settings. In this dialog, make sure the option Only show tasks from the current desktop is checked so the second desktop will be clean.

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Finally, I like the classic start menu, you can give it a try by right-clicking on the Launcher menu (the little K letter) and click Switch to Classic Menu Style. Also, right-click on the Launcher menu, go to Application Launcher Settings and select the format as Name Only.

Just in case the launcher icon is still blue and not monochrome (gray), right click on the task bar, go to Panel Options > Panel Settings and slightly make the taskbar smaller by clicking on Height.

Konsole and Yakuake Customization

First of all, let’s install the Fixedsys font. Download the zip from HERE , save it to disk, extract it, open the fixedsys.ttf and click on the install button.

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Now, open-up Konsole (Launcher menu > System > Konsole) and go to Settings > Edit current profile. From the Appearance tab, select Linux colors from the list, click on Edit button, set a transparency level of 20% and click OK. Now, select the Fixedsys font with a size of 11. Finally, from the Scrolling tab, set the scroll tab to hide.

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To install Yakuake, open a terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install yakuake (Ubuntu)
sudo yum install yakuake (Fedora)

Once, installed, you can run it from Launcher Menu > System > Yakuake and open it by pressing the F12 button. To configure it, press the down arrow from the lower right corner, set the following options: Width: 100%, Height 80%, Duration ~200ms and press Apply. Now, from the Appearance tab, click install new theme, search for transparent and install the Transparent Tabs theme. Select the new theme from the list and click OK.

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Yakuake should now look like this:

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Howto Customize Your KDE Desktop Appearance
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