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KDE4 with Ubuntu Gutsy (first impressions)

Today was the official release of KDE4, and the Kubuntu packages are already available for download and use.

Here’s a screenshot of my current desktop:
My new kde4 desktop

How to install?

If you want to install KDE4 in your current Ubuntu or Kubuntu Gutsy is very easy.

First add the repository to your sources list:

sudo kate /etc/apt/sources.list

Then add this line at the end of the file

deb gutsy main

Refresh your packages
sudo aptitude update

And install kde4-core if you want the basic installation.
sudo aptitude install kde4-core

If you want all kde4 packages that are available, install the kde4 package.
sudo aptitude install kde4

The configuration process will ask you if you want to log in with gdm, kdm or kdm-kde4. Choose the one you like.

Finally, logout and log back in, choosing the KDE4 session from your login manager.

First Impressions

My first impressions of the released KDE4 were positive. Taking into account that I tried all release candidates in Live CD, the quality of this released version is actually usable and comfortable. The libraries might be stable release quality, but the applications are still a bit rough on the edges.

K Menu

The kmenu changed a lot. It feels very Vista-ish (which i dislike) but you get used to it very easily. The search is fast and the navigation is not that cumbersome as the Vista menu.


To really enjoy the experience you must enable the animations. Open the System Settings KDE4 on the K menu. Kcontrol is gone in KDE4, and replaced with this System Settings. Its like the Kubuntu Control Panel layout. Choose Desktop, and enable all desktop effects. Also check the effects on the Advanced tab.

There are a lot of animations I didn’t expected on KDE4, and it looks very promising.


I definitely recommend you to set Dolphin as your default file manager. Maybe you will enjoy it as much as I do.

For some strange reason, the kubuntu packages dont have Dolphin as the main file manager, it has Konqueror. To enable Dolphin as the default file manager, just open Konqueror, go to the Tools menu, then Configure Konqueror. Now select the File Associations button and under inode, select directory. Move Dolphin to be the first option on the application preference order list and save the changes.

Dolphin on KDE4 is great! The panels, the file tree structure, the info pane, all worth having there. The icon animations on the info pane look awesome. And the greatest of all is the embedded terminal (press F4 to display). It changes directory to the current directory you are browsing. Nice touch.

One bug I’ve noticed is that Dolphin opens the file with right and left click. So even it launches the menu for the icon, in also opens the file, and then some error pops up. Its not as annoying as it sounds though.


The Panel

On the RC releases, the panel was not configurable at all. On these release, the panel is still not that customizable, but at least it displays correctly the system tray, clock and virtual desktops. These are configurable, but not as much as in KDE3. Still cannot resize the panel or move around the widgets in it.

Missing Features

There are a couple of missing features. One of the most noticeable, for me, are the KWin shortcuts. There is no option for “switch to next desktop” keyboard shortcut, so I’m stuck with Ctrl+F1 through F4 to switch desktops. I’m used to configure Ctrl+Alt+Arrows to do this depending on the desktop I’m in (got used to it from my Gnome usage days). The expose feature is smooth and nice, but I can only activate it once and only once if I move the mouse to the left top corner. The next times I want to activate expose, I have to press Ctrl+F10.

The screenshots and video recording don’t come up. The zooming and looking glass didn’t work for me either. Also the panel clock can only display one timezone (I usually look at 3 different timezones I’m interested in).

Also I noticed that the GTK theming option is missing from the Settings manager. GTK based applications (Firefox) look…ugly.

And of course, as being a recent release, there are lots of applications that need to release their KDE4 version. Amarok for KDE4 is not on the kubuntu repositories yet and I’ve been trying to check that one out, since its one of my favourite KDE apps. My other two favourite KDE apps also need their KDE4 update: Yakuake and Katapult. Although you can still use them.
missing switch next desktop, bug in expose corner.


There are lots of features I haven’t discovered yet and there’s still a lot of polishing to do on it, but its beautiful, fun and safe to use. I’ve been using KDE4 at work for the whole day, and I know its very premature to say it, but I think its a great release, great changes, and with a very, very promising future ahead.

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter

10 replies on “KDE4 with Ubuntu Gutsy (first impressions)”

Primeras impresiones de KDE4 en Ubuntu Gutsy…

Una reseña sobre KDE4 y los paquetes de Ubuntu Gutsy. Lo bueno, lo malo y lo estable….

[…] * KDE4 with Ubuntu Gutsy (first impressions) – Nethazard writes that his first impressions of the released KDE4 were positive. Taking into account that he has tried all the release candidates in Live CD mode, the quality of this released version is actually usable and comfortable. The libraries might be of stable release quality, but the applications are still a bit rough on the edges. While kmenu feels very Vista-ish, the user gets used to it very easily. The search is fast and the navigation is not as cumbersome as the Vista menu. He recommends you set Dolphin as your default file manager. On this release, the panel is still not that customizable, but at least it correctly displays the system tray, clock and virtual desktops. While there are some missing features, there are lots of features he hasn’t discovered yet and there’s still a lot of polishing to do on it, its beautiful, fun and safe to use. […]

nice review

am a gnome user (for now), but kde4 will be amazing in a short period

many people have been bashing on kde4, but they gotta understand this is just the first working stable release and still needs a lot of work

Hm, writing this in KDE Konqueoro gives me black on grey background, so I can’t see what I’m writing… weird.
Anyhow, wanted to mention, that Konqueror file browser has as well the terminal via F4, so nothing new there for Dolphin.
Will write my impressions on my blog soon.
Thx for reviewing, gives me trust to try the full package as well, only trying the core for now.
Michael Aye

KDE4 looks nice but it lacks a lot of the features that KDE3 had, there isnt a right click menu to edit kickermenu for one, now the editor is tucked out of the way [why?] when kickermenu should have been drag and drop editable with a history of say the last 5 edits + option to reset to default. settings should have been centralized but instead they’re still scattered. there should be an option to configure other settings at first boot into KDE like which filemanager to have as the default, simple things like that but there isn’t, you still need to do this manually. [why? this isn’t 1995, it’s 2008!] I mean really, what is so bad about leaving simple things to the work of a GUI and doing actual configuration with text-file editing/command-line? icons shouldn’t have been messed with or at the least there should be an option to go back to KDE3 style perhaps even the option to actually create an icon directly rather than the way it is now. all in all it makes me wonder what the hack is going on with KDE, prettiness is taking priority over usefulness and customization and really as far as I’m concerned, if that’s what you’re into, get a Vista box; it’s more than happy to make all the decisions for you.

[…] KDE4 avec Ubuntu Gutsy (premières impressions)- Nethazard écrit que ses premières impressions de KD4 furent positives. Etant donné qu’il a essayé toutes les versions candidates depuis leur LiveCD, il a trouvé la version finale tout à fait utilisable et confortable. Les librairies sont maintenant de qualité convenable pour une version finale, mais les applications ne sont pas encore trop au point. Bien que le menu K ait un arrière-goût de Vista, l’utilisateur s’y habitue très facilement. Le menu est moins encombré que celui de Vista, rendant la recherche et la navigation plus facile. Il recommande d’utiliser Dolphin comme explorateur de fichiers par défaut. Pour cette version, le tableau de bord n’est pas si personnalisable que cela, mais au moins, la zone de notification, l’horloge et les bureaux virtuels s’y affichent correctement. Bien qu’il manque quelques fonctionnalités, il lui en reste encore beaucoup à découvrir, et même s’il y a un travail important de finition à effectuer, KDE 4 est beau, amusant, et peut être utilisé en toute sécurité. […]

About the terminal on Dolphin, what I like is that it follows you on the folder you are browsing on the file manager window. I mean, if im in Home and switch to Documents, the terminal also swithches automatically. That’s a nice touch.

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