Using KDE/Installing

This page uses information from the KDE Website. Please read the information there too.

Installation the Easy Way edit

KDE comes in almost every version of Linux - the easiest way to install it is to select it as your desktop when you install Linux on your computer - you will normally be presented with a menu during installation where you can pick your desktop. Just pick KDE: easy! Some distros such as Kubuntu ship with KDE out of the box.

How to install KDE after that will depend on which Linux distribution you are using.

KDE Packages edit

KDE is big, so it is split into several packages, which are listed below. KDE requires the three packages kdelibs, kdebase and aRts; and the rest are optional. However, you'll probably want most or all of these other packages because they contain useful applications. In fact, I recommend you install all of them.

kdelibs required KDE
kdebase required KDE
kdebase-runtime required KDE
kdebase-workplace required plasma, kwin
kdeplasma-addons Additional widgets for plasma
phonon required sound system
kdeutils strongly recommended calculator, editors, ark (for zip, tar.gz etc)
kdeartwork recommended extra wallpaper, icons, sounds
kdegames required ;-) games - snake, tron, mini-golf and many more
kdegraphics previewer for .ps and .dvi files; extra drawing programs
kdemultimedia CD player, mixer, MIDI player
kdenetwork Instant messenger, KGet downloader, Samba configuration tools
kdepim Email program (KMail), Mail Reader, Personal Information Tools
kdepimlibs libraries for kdepim
kdeadmin recommended Administration programs
kdeedu optional Educational and entertaining for younger users
kdeaccessibility optional magnifier, mouse tool, speech synthesiser
kdetoys optional Toys: eyes, egg timer
kdebindings programming additional bindings for java, perl, etc
kdewebdev programming Web development tools
kdesdk programming, recommended Software development kit

Installation edit

If it is not included by default with your distro, your distro's package system may have KDE available in their repository. Check your distribution's documentation if in doubt.

Installing KDE on Debian and Ubuntu edit

KDE can be installed in Debian and Ubuntu using apt-get. For Ubuntu, this will change Ubuntu into Kubuntu. Apt-get installs all the correct packages from the Internet or from your Debian CD - see the apt-get manual pages for details.

  • Back up your data (not required, but suggested).
  • Log in as root (super-user), or use sudo if you are in the sudoers list.
  • Update your package information to the latest versions:
apt-get update
  • Debian users should install the kde metapackage as well as the K Display Manager:
apt-get install kde kdm
  • Ubuntu users should install the kubuntu-desktop metapackage which includes KDE and the K Display Manager:
apt-get install kubuntu-desktop
Note: pay attention to any packages that are marked for removal before you continue. If you want to check, use the --dry-run option with this command.

Avoiding apt-get edit

  • Synaptic can be used to control apt-get through a gui. This can be easier if you plan to install more than KDE or prefer not to work with a terminal.
  • It is also possible to download the .deb packages from the Debian website and install them using dpkg, in a method similar to the .rpm installation below. If you do this, you should make sure you have all the packages you need - including any dependencies you don't already have. This method should only be used if you are unable to use apt-get.

Installing KDE Using .RPM Files edit

If you use a version of Linux which uses .rpm to install programs, you can install KDM using rpm files.

  • Download all the .rpm files you want, and save them into a new folder.
  • Download and read the INSTALL and README files.
  • Back up your data (not required, but suggested)
  • Quit your desktop. This is not always required, but this is a good idea. You can normally quit your desktop by changing your runlevel.
  • Log in as root (super-user).
  • Use cd to enter the directory you saved the .rpm files to
  • To install, use the command
rpm -ivh *.rpm

Installation from the Source Code edit

This type of installation is fairly tricky. You will need the correct version of Qt and some other libraries installed before you start. See the KDE website for details.

The Konstruct tool simplifies this by doing many of the tasks, such as downloading and properly extracting packages, configuring and building them.

Starting KDE edit

If you are on a desktop or have xserver running already, quit it. To start KDE, type

xinit /usr/bin/startkde

which will start kde on a new xserver. If this doesn't work, try


To start KDE each time (you probably want this) you'll need to edit your startup files. If you use KDM or XDM to log in, edit .xsession, otherwise edit .xinitrc or .Xclients.

  • Backup your current startup file.
  • Remove the lines in the startup file which start up your previous desktop program
  • Replace these with startkde (if it can't find the X-Server, add startx above startkde).
  • Restart your computer.