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.

  • Blazeix

    Just a matter of pickiness, but KDE is actually a “Desktop Environment” and KDE’s window manager is Kwin. Likewise, GNOME is a “desktop environment” who’s window manager is Metacity. XFCE4 is a desktop environment who’s window manager is xfwm.

    A desktop environment is a collection of a bunch of programs like panels, a window manager, filemanagers, and various desktop-environment-specific libraries.

    A window manager’s job is to manage how/where windows are handled. period.
    For example, Compiz is an alternative window manager. this is why you can run compiz under gnome, KDE or xfce, since you are just swapping out KWin/Metacity/xfwm for compiz. Fluxbox is window manager, which is why you can’t use compiz with fluxbox, since you can only have one window manager; one must replace the other.

    “Window managers vs Desktop environments” is something that people often mess up when writing about Linux, but it’s best to try to correct it when you see it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_manager
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_environment#X_Window_System

    This was a great article by the way, and I’m definitely going to take a look at doing this, thanks for writing it up!

  • http://www.geeksonthebeach.ca Jonathan

    I’ve only come across the “Insert Installation CD” under Ubuntu once. When it happened, I had the same eerie Windows deja vu that you did. But there’s a quick fix: Use the “Software Sources” app or preferences in Synaptic to remove the Installation CD as a source. No more double installation.

  • http://www.harshj.com Harsh

    It actually appears normally if you have your CD enabled as a repo and are attempting to install the build-essential package (Live CD) :)

  • http://www.harshj.com Harsh

    Oh and btw, add kdebase-workspace to the install list. I couldn’t find the kde.desktop with that one not installed after kde4base-dev. But that might be just me perhaps ..

  • Aman

    Hi.
    Thanks for your great article,but I fell in trouble . After all of those installation I reboot my computer and I’m going to text mode screen!!! I’m new in Ubuntu and can not fix this problem. Do you have any idea??
    (I run Ubuntu 7.10 .and install KDE 3.94)

  • Murali

    I installed KDE4 beta according to the instructions posted here. When i choose KDE4 and login, it takes considerable amount of time before it shows desktop. I can’t see any K-menu, all it shows is blank taskbar and an annoying pop up box which comes when mouse is pointed to upper left corner. Is there a way to get KDE3 style of K-menu and other things in 4? Or did i do anything wrong..

    Thanks.

  • Jake

    The window manager of KDE is kwin, yet as far as I can tell you are referring to the complete desktop environment with this article… :-S