Linux for Starters

Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Try Different Desktops – Part 16

KDE Plasma 5

You’ve installed Ubuntu with its GNOME desktop. If you want to try KDE, you don’t need to remove the present Ubuntu and install Kubuntu from scratch. Instead there’s a few different metapackages you can install. You can still switch back to GNOME 3 whenever you want.

Before we start, open up a Terminal and make sure your system is up-to-date with the command:

$ sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

KDE Plasma Desktop

This metapackage pulls in the core modules released with the KDE Software Compilation including the basic KDE Plasma Desktop, together with a minimal set of basic applications (browser, file manager, text editor, system settings, panel, etc.), important libraries and data.

No other applications are installed, but they can be separately installed later. The download size is around 247 MB and uses 957 MB of disk space. Install with the command:

$ sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop

Once the metapackage is downloaded, you’ll be asked to configure SDDM (stands for Simple Desktop Display Manager). This is the recommended display manager for KDE Plasma. Select ‘sddm’ from the list and press Enter.

Linux for Starters - Configuring sddm

The remaining packages will then be unpacked and installed.

Once this is done, the remaining packages will be unpacked and installed. Reboot your system, and you’ll be welcomed by the SDDM Lockscreen.

Here’s an image of the desktop.

Linux for Starters - KDE Plasma 5
Click image for full size

KDE Widgets

One of the aspects that stands KDE Plasma head and shoulders above its desktop peers is extensibility. Plasma lets you configure the desktop to your specific preferences.

KDE Plasma widgets (also known as plasmoids) are a smart way of customizing the desktop. There’s an abundance of widgets available that act like building blocks, constructing a desktop that’s perfect for your needs and requirements. We explore the best KDE Plasma widgets in this roundup.


Switch between DEs

It’s easy to switch between GNOME and KDE Plasma using the “Desktop Session” dropdown available from SDDM’s lock screen.

Linux Starters - Switch between KDE and GNOME


There are other metapackages available:

KDE Standard

The standard KDE includes Plasma desktop with a selection of the most common used applications.

The download is 351 MB in size, using 1,378 MB of disk space. You can install it using the command:

$ sudo apt install kde-standard


KDE Full

This is the complete package and core KDE plasma desktop. This metapackage includes all the official modules released with KDE Software Compilation that are not specific to development and as well other KDE applications that are useful for a desktop user. This includes multimedia, networking, graphics, education, games, system administration tools, and other artwork and utilities.

This is the largest of the metapackages. It’s a whopping 1,109 MB download, and will use 3,282 MB of disk space.

$ sudo apt install kde-full

Depending on your internet connection, you might want to put some filter coffee on while the process completes.

Page 3 – XFCE

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction
Page 2 – KDE Plasma 5
Page 3 – XFCE
Page 4 – MATE
Page 5 – Budgie


All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters
Part 1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
Part 2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
Part 3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
Part 4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
Part 5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
Part 6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
Part 7Updating the system, install new software.
Part 8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
Part 9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
Part 10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
Part 11Getting help from your system.
Part 12Learn all about the file system.
Part 13Manipulating files from the shell.
Part 14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
Part 15Managing users on your system.
Part 16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
Part 17Gaming on Linux.
Part 18Protect your privacy with this guide.
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