I Don’t Think We’re In Kansas Anymore: How-To Install KDE 4 Beta 2 on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Beta 7.10!

Caution: As with any beta software, things can go wrong. I’m doing something that shouldn’t be done by mere mortals, all for the sake of experimentation. And for posterity, I did screw this up once. But I was able to recover from text mode console and resume. I’ve ommited those steps. 🙂

For those of you unfamiliar with KDE, it is a “window manager.”

In layman’s terms, a window manager is everything OUTSIDE the programs you run. For example, the taskbar, minimize and maximize buttons, the animations on the screen when you change from one program to another – that’s what a window manager takes care of for us. In Linux, the programs themselves have little control over what happens outside of their window pane.

You may know already that Ubuntu uses the Gnome window manager. When I downloaded and installed the latest Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 Beta Release, it came by default with the Gnome window manager. Gnome is nice and simple but some people prefer something a bit more customizable. Personally, I like Gnome, it does pretty much everything I want or need, and doesn’t have ugly extra panels or things that get in the way of me doing work.

The easy way of getting KDE 4 is by installing Kubuntu – the version of Ubuntu that comes with KDE by default.

Unfortunately, I am not about the “easy way.” Experimenting in Linux is the only way that you can learn how things break, and conversely how to fix them.

I think I know what I’m doing and even broke my installation while writing up this article. Res ipsa loquitur…

So now that we’ve got you up to speed, we are going to install KDE 4 Beta 2 on Ubuntu.

First we run a simple command in the terminal:
sudo apt-get install kde4base-dev

You’ll be prompted to insert your original installation disk. This step reminds me of Windows.
Media change: please insert the disc labeled
'Ubuntu 7.10 _Gutsy Gibbon_ - Beta i386 (20070925.2)'
in the drive '/cdrom/' and press enter

Let that command finish, then run this command:
sudo cp /usr/lib/kde4/share/apps/kdm/sessions/kde.desktop /usr/share/xsessions/kde4.desktop

Bam! Now that we’ve got everything installed, it seems we need to update the packages we just downloaded.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

There is more waiting to do after issuing these commands. Lots of updates.

Ok, now everything is installed. We need to setup Ubuntu to use KDE instead of Gnome now.
sudo gedit /usr/share/xsessions/kde4.desktop

Change KDE to show “KDE 4” as shown below in bold:

[Desktop Entry]
Encoding=UTF-8
Type=XSession
Exec=/usr/lib/kde4/bin/startkde
TryExec=/usr/lib/kde4/bin/startkde
Name=KDE 4
[…..]

sudo gedit /usr/lib/kde4/bin/startkde
Add the four bolded export lines into the top of the file like so:

#!/bin/sh
#
# DEFAULT KDE STARTUP SCRIPT ( 3.93.00 (KDE 4.0 Beta2) )
#
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/kde4/lib
export KDEDIRS=/usr/lib/kde4
export PATH=/usr/lib/kde4/bin/:$PATH
export KDEHOME=~/.kde4

[…..]

Set Ubuntu to use KDE instead of Gnome.

sudo gedit /etc/X11/default-display-manager

Change the part that says ‘gdm’ to ‘kdm’. Save the file. Ok, that should be it, let’s reboot and login to KDE. You might need to change one more thing in the login window: click on Options and select Session, and then choose KDE.

KDE is recommendedby 5 out of 5 Dead Siamese Fighting Fish.