How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

The name KDE comes from “K Desktop Environment”. For those not familiar with KDE Desktop, it is a free, open-source desktop environment. It provides Linux users on various distributions an alternative graphical interface to customize their desktop environment and applications for everyday use enhancement.

Besides the graphical enhancements and changes, it is also a lightweight, fast, smooth environment with superior performance compared to native shipped desktops with some Linux Distributions. In Ubuntu’s case, this is Gnome.

At the end of the tutorial, you will have learned how to install KDE Desktop Environment on your Ubuntu 20.04 system.

Warning

Before installing KDE Plasma, create backups or have a plan if you do not like it and want to roll back to Ubuntu. Removing KDE is messy and will lead to system instabilities along with having random applications still installed. It is a painstaking process overall to revert to the original state before KDE was installed.

Overall, removal of KDE can be done but not for the average user. It is far better to re-install a fresh copy of Ubuntu and wipe the system clean as it will take far less time, so having a backup plan, especially when first trying out KDE, is very important unless you do not care about wiping your system clean, to begin with.

Prerequisites

  • Recommended OS: Ubuntu 20.04 or higher
  • User account: A user account with sudo or root access.

Update Operating System

Update your Ubuntu operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status. To verify sudo status on your account:

sudo whoami

Example output showing sudo status:

[joshua@ubuntu ~]$ sudo whoami
root

If you have not set up a sudo user account and would like to, visit our tutorial on How to Add a User to Sudoers on Ubuntu.

To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.

su

Install KDE Desktop

KDE can be installed in three variations. Either three can be installed, it is a personal choice to which suits your needs the best.

KDE Full

The first option is to install the complete package of KDE. This comes complete with all packages and the core KDE Plasma Desktop. This is an excellent option for higher-end systems that can afford to install all the goodies and dependencies since their system can handle it. The package is around 3.4GB in size.

To install KDE Full, use the following terminal command:

sudo apt install kde-full

KDE Standard

The second option is to install KDE standard, which comes with the core KDE Plasma desktop and the standard applications such as default web browser, text editor, email client, etc. The package size is around 1.6GB in size.

sudo apt install kde-standard

KDE Plasma

The third option is to install KDE Plasma, the minimal default package with just the core KDE and the minimal applications installed. Overall, the size is just under 1.2GB.

sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop

Desktop Installation Procedure

Once you have chosen which branch you will install, the following steps will be similar, if not the same as below. For the tutorial, KDE Desktop Full will be used as an example.

The first screen you will come across is a prompt about configuring SDDM, which is short for Simple Desktop Display Manager, which is Display Manager for KDE Desktop.

Example:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

As mentioned, you will need to choose “ssdm”. Press the “TAB KEY” to select <Ok> and press your “ENTER KEY” to proceed.

Example:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

Once complete, you will need to reboot your system for the new changes to take effect.

Note, a nasty bug can occur when returning to the SDDM display manager login screen on Ubuntu 20.04. This is more prominent with virtual environments such as VirtualBox and VMWARE.

Before you reboot, open the following file to see if it exists.

sudo nano /etc/sddm.conf

Next, confirm if not add the following:

[General]
InputMethod=

Example:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

Save the file (CTRL+O), then exit (CTRL+X).

Restart by typing the following command:

reboot

First Look & Verifying KDE Desktop

Once you have restarted your Ubuntu system, you will first come to a new login screen that is entirely different from a lovely new login screen theme courtesy of SDDM.

Example:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

In the future, you can easily swap back to Ubuntu display manager and the default Gnome by clicking the Session box window.

Example:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes besides the apparent color and background changes. The taskbar is now similar to a more windows type of taskbar, along with more integrations in the top right-hand corner of services where the time display is.

Example:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

To confirm the installation, you can find your “System Information” to confirm the details of the KDE and Ubuntu 20.04 system. Another handy package to install is Screenfetch. To install this package, use the following command in your terminal.

sudo apt install screenfetch -y

Once installed, run the following command in your terminal.

screenfetch

Example output:

How to Install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

As the above output has shown, you have successfully installed KDE Plasma on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa.

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have successfully learned how to install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Ubuntu 20.04. Overall, KDE is a great community project for those wanting a more stable and Ideal for those who want the most out of their desktops, laptops, and netbooks and prefer a traditional desktop metaphor.

For more information on using KDE Plasma, visit the official documentation guide.



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