The name KDE comes from “K Desktop Environment.” It is a free, open-source desktop environment for those unfamiliar with KDE Desktop. It provides Linux users with an alternative graphical interface to customize their desktop environment and applications for everyday use enhancement.
In Linux Mint’s case, this is GNOME. 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 the following tutorial, you will have learned how to install KDE Desktop Environment on Linux Mint 20.
- Recommended OS: Linux Mint 20 or higher.
- User account: A user account with sudo or root access.
Update Operating System
Update your Linux Mint 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:
Example output showing sudo status:
[joshua@linuxmint ~]$ sudo whoami root
To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on Adding a User to Sudoers on Linux Mint.
To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.
The tutorial will be utilizing the terminal, and for those unfamiliar, this can be found in your show applications menu.
Important Notice Before Installation
Before installing the KDE desktop, create backups or plans if you do not like it and want to roll back. Removing any Desktop Environment is challenging and will lead to system instabilities, and there are typically always remnant applications to remove, among other things.
Unless you have minimal system resources, having multiple desktop environments won’t hinder your system. Often people have several and switch between, and it is advised to keep all the alternative desktop environments you install or reformat your system altogether.
Do not install the following desktop environment on your Linux Mint desktop if this sounds too difficult or risky.
Install KDE Plasma on Linux Mint
To begin the installation of KDE, you will need to add the following PPA repository named kubuntu-ppa/backports, a backports repository containing the latest version of KDE Plasma and applications.
In your terminal instance, use the following command to add the PPA.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports -y
Next, update your apt repository.
sudo apt-get update
Now begin the installation of KDE Plasma using the following command.
sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop
Type Y, then press the ENTER KEY to proceed with the installation.
The desktop environment installation requires downloading close to 220MB of data and requires an additional around 900MB of space after installation.
During the installation, you will see the “Configuring sddm.” KDE Plasma is recommended to run on using sddm. To proceed, press the TAB KEY to select <Ok> and hit the ENTER KEY.
Next, press the TAB KEY to select <sddm> and then press the TAB KEY again to select <Ok> and press the ENTER KEY to proceed and complete the installation.
Note, a nasty bug can occur when rebooting to the initial session login screen and only seeing a large keyboard, especially if you are using virtualization environments on Linux Mint 20.
Before you reboot, open the following file to see if it exists.
sudo nano /etc/sddm.conf
Next, confirm if not add the following:
Save the file (CTRL+O), then exit (CTRL+X).
Failure to do this may lead to some complications down the road, you have been warned.
Once complete, reboot your system, which can be done by typing the following directly into your terminal.
First Look & Verifying KDE Plasma
Once you have restarted your desktop, you will arrive at your login screen.
DO NOT LOG IN STRAIGHT AWAY.
First, you need to verify the desktop environment. This is done by clicking the configuration button, which is now located in the top right-hand corner.
Next, select “Plasma” instead of the default “Cinnamon” or the alternative desktop Linux Mint DE’s “MATE” or “Xfce”.
Example (Click Image Expand):
Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes besides the apparent color and background changes. The taskbar is now more combined into groups than the Cinnamon DE, where it was more Windows-based, along with more integrations in the bottom right-hand corner of services where the time display is.
But you be the judge if this style of desktop environment suits you or not.
Example (Click Image Expand):
Example Screenlock (Click Image Expand):
And that is it, and you have successfully installed the KDE Plasma desktop environment.
Switching Default Display Managers
In the future, if you want to change the default display manager back to LightDM to use Cinnamon or even GDM for GNOME and so on from the KDE and SDDM display manager.
Open your terminal, then re-run the pop-up to configure the default display manager using the following command.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure sddm
Make sure to reboot if you are switching Display Managers and Desktop Environments.
How to Remove (Uninstall) KDE Plasma
Use the following command for users who want to try and attempt to remove KDE Plasma from Linux Mint.
sudo apt purge '^kde' '^kubuntu' '^plasma'
Next, reboot your system.
As per the start of the tutorial, this may be easier for advanced users but difficult for Linux beginners as quite often, additional packages are installed and will need to be cleaned up.
Comments and Conclusion
In the tutorial, you have successfully learned how to install KDE Plasma Desktop Environment on Linux Mint 20. 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.