[kde-linux] In KDE4, to set a different background for each of the multiple desktops

Stan Goodman stan.goodman at hashkedim.com
Wed Dec 23 12:57:16 UTC 2009

At 13:46:18 on Wednesday Wednesday 23 December 2009, Duncan 
<1i5t5.duncan at cox.net> wrote:
> Stan Goodman posted on Wed, 23 Dec 2009 00:13:50 +0200 as excerpted:
> > In KDE3 this was possible. The background-installation process is
> > very similar in KDE4, but the result is that the same background is
> > displayed in each of the desktops. Is this a new limitation, or am I
> > missing something. I would be grateful for this information, and any
> > other that will help me with the kind of desktop that I have had in
> > the past, and would like to have again.
> In 4.3 it's possible, but non-obvious.  From what I've read, 4.4 makes
> the process more discoverable as just one of the many plasma
> improvements that are said to be included.
> The key in 4.3 is to realized that in kde4, the backgrounds are
> attached to activities, not desktops.  This is rather more obvious in
> multi- monitor setups than it is otherwise, because each monitor gets a
> separate activity and therefore a separate background, but it quickly
> becomes obvious if you use multiple activities on a single monitor
> setup, as well.

Anyone who looks at the Desktop and at multiple desktops would understand 
that the background is associated with the desktop, not with anything 
called an "Activity". That is intuitive, and probably has a basis in the 
evolutionary development of our species. Intuitiveness is not a concept 
that has much attraction to the developers of KDE4, nor is simplicity; I 
can accept that.

> Activities... are an interesting concept.  The idea is to be able to
> group a bunch of plasmoids into a single task appropriate activity,
> then switch activities when you switch tasks.  It /is/ a neat concept,
> but it /does/ take some getting used to.

They don't interest me. If I need them to get to something that should 
(intuitively) be done without them, I could do that. But I would need to 
be able also to hide their presence otherwise, e.g. to make the 
translucent window that occupies much of the screen altogether invisible. 
Can I do that?

> Originally and as designed, activities were supposed to be entirely
> separate from virtual desktops, so there was no particular link between
> a virtual desktop and an activity, and therefore no particular link
> between a desktop and the background, since that's part of the
> activity, not part of the desktop.  However, as kde4 was more widely
> deployed, the developers realized that the virtual desktop metaphor was
> already embedded in people's heads and work-styles, while activities
> were new, and many many people strongly preferred that they be linked. 
> Thus, in 4.3, a new option was added, different activity for each
> desktop. Unfortunately, in 4.3, this option was only available from the
> configure plasma menu, which only shows up when the activities are
> zoomed out, and activity zooming doesn't seem to be as natively
> intuitive as the developers had hoped.  In fact, it can be quite scary
> for some, if they don't know what's going on, so if it happened
> accidentally, they may be rather inclined to avoid the action that
> triggered it in the future.  Of course, that means people aren't as
> likely to discover the options behind zoomed activities, including this
> one.

What a pity. Associating backgrounds with virtual desktops was so simple 
in KDE3, without the introduction of so much auxiliary apparatus that 
many people seem to believe is superfluous.

> So 4.4 makes that option (and others only accessible thru activity
> zooming in 4.3) more accessible from a number of other places.  (Since
> I'm not running the 4.4 betas yet, I've only read of it, I don't know
> the details.)  In fact, by ensuring that all zoomed-out-activity
> options are available elsewhere in the UI, 4.4 is said to do away with
> the necessity of zooming activities to get to them entirely, tho some
> people like the zooming, once they get used to it, and it should remain
> an option, perhaps like the desktop grid effect option.
> Meanwhile, how does one access this in 4.3?  Simple.  Click on the
> desktop "cashew" (aka toolbox, that little plasma symbol), and select
> zoom out.  Now you have access to activity options such as creating new
> ones, etc.  On the popup menu that should appear at the top left,
> select plasma options, and a dialog should popup with a couple of...
> what else, plasma options. =:^)  One of these is the separate activity
> per desktop option that should enable what you're after.

I will definitely try this, and I am grateful for your advice, although 
the explanation of the mechanics only emphasizes for me how much I want 
to dump the bother of Activities to the extent that this is possible. Can 
I hide the translucent shower curtain?

Stan Goodman
Qiryat Tiv'on

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