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

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Wed Dec 23 15:47:22 UTC 2009

Stan Goodman posted on Wed, 23 Dec 2009 15:52:22 +0200 as excerpted:

> 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:

> I've given it a shot. For the benefit of any other readers, I should
> mention that what you have written as 'elect "Plasma Options"' Should
> read 'select Configure Plasma" (no doubt a simple typo).

Yeah, I wasn't actually zoomed out at the time, so was going from 
memory.  (Meanwhile, that "elect" I think was your typo, "select" was 
what I believe I wrote, and what seems to appear in your quote, as well.  
Typos while discussing typos, are we in danger of infinite recursion 
here? =:^)

> Then, after
> selecting "Separate activity per desktop", six distinct shower curtains
> popped up, all without any identification, so that one doesn't know
> after performing an "Activity" which desktop he has Acted upon. That
> can't be right.

As referred to in the other post, "shower curtains" isn't the analogy I'd 
have chosen, and it's rather confusing to me even now.  Hopefully we're 
talking about the same thing.  I'll choose "panes", I think.

Presumably you had six virtual desktops configured, and each of these 
panes aka shower curtains represented one of them (but I see below that 
presumption isn't quite right, but stick with this as it's already 
written).  FWIW, I only run three desktops, here, and keep the same 
activities/backgrounds/whatever on each.  But I have dual 1920x1200 
monitors, too, stacked for 1920x2400 resolution on each desktop.  It's 
thus likely that I'm running more total resolution on those three 
desktops than you are on your six, thus the reason I get by with only 

The original intent I believe was to have people add activities as they 
needed them.  As such, they'd never have six identical or nearly 
identical activities shown at once, and they'd be easily visually IDed as 
the plasmoids/widgets on each one as well as the background would be 

Of course, that all falls apart when activities and desktops are suddenly 
linked, especially when someone has six desktops, and only one activity 
setup, so now it's duplicated on all six (zoomed out) desktops, with no 
real way to identify them.

Presumably, one is supposed to choose one, probably zoom in on it, and 
start customizing it.  Then when they zoom out, it'll now be distinctive 
from the others, and the idea will begin to emerge by visual experience 
that they are now each individually customizable.

BTW, there are a total of three zoom levels, fully zoomed in (one 
activity displayed), zoomed out once (the middle level), with four 
activities displayed in a 2x2=4 grid, and zoomed out twice, with nine 
activities displayed in a 3x3=9 grid (possibly, if you fill them out, 
there's even a 4th zoom level, 4x4=16 grid, I've never tried enough 
activities to see).  Presumably when you selected the activity per 
desktop option, it zoomed out to the 3x3 grid, since you had six desktops 
and thus now six activities.  Fiddling around (as quoted below), you then 
zoomed in on one of them, but it wasn't clear to you what happened.  Then 
when you zoomed out again, you only saw four, as you only zoomed out one 
step.  Had you zoomed out another, you'd have (presumably) seen all six, 
with the bottom third of the screen a neutral background, no panes/
activities shown since you only have six and it'd display nine.

> Leaving that aside, I assumed that now, in each shower curtain, I must
> click MB2 to choose and install a background image. But in fact that
> click does nothing. I fiddled around a bit, which caused one of the six
> windows to occupy the entire screen, after which more fiddling made it
> small again, but there were only four of them, not six as before. Now it
> was possible to MB2 on any one of the four, and set a background. I felt
> rewarded for 4 out of 6. But I didn't know how to find the remaining
> two, nor how to return to normal (non-"Activity") operation, so I
> rebooted.


> What I have now is three (not four) virtual desktops with presentable
> backgrounds, and three with the default background (Bubbly Chartreuse).
> The shower curtain appears only on desktop #1, which is good, but I
> would like to dump  it too. And I would like to take another crack at
> setting a good background on the three that don't have one.

Now I'm confused again.  I thought the shower curtain was referring to 
the representation of the desktop, one for each, but I guess not...

Maybe you mean... the folderview plasmoid/widget?  If it was set to an 
empty folder (better known in Linux terms as a directory, "folder" 
sounds... MSWormOS-ish), and depending on the plasma theme (oxygen or air 
being the default, depending on kde4 version), I could see how that would 
appear as a translucent curtain that could be described as a shower 

If you're talking about some plasmoid (folderview or other), right 
clicking on the desktop, or on the cashew, or on a panel, should in most 
cases give you a menu.  If you clicked on a plasmoid, you may have to 
select activity options.  Anyway, find unlock widgets, if they are locked.

With the widgets/plasmoids unlocked, you should be able to resize, move, 
delete, etc each plasmoid, including the folderview, which I'm now 
assuming is your 'shower curtain'.  Hovering over the plasmoid should 
popup a toolbox to the right or left (depending on where you hover), with 
buttons for the various functions.

Note that it's also possible to have a full-desktop-sized folderview in 
place of the normal activity.  This option is available in desktop 
settings (labeled activity options in some cases, instead of desktop 
settings).  At the top of the dialog, there's a selector for type, either 
activity or folderview.  If set for folderview, you get a single 
folderview covering the entire desktop, instead of an activity, which 
would allow multiple plasmoids, including multiple folderviews, if 
desired, each set to a different directory.

Meanwhile, now that you know there are two levels of zoom, you should be 
able to zoom out twice and get the 3x3=9 grid...

FWIW, if you don't like the zooming, there's an activity changer plasmoid/
widget available.  

> My question at this point is: Should I begin the process again from
> scratch according to your directions? Or is there a way to bring up the
> former set of Activities as it was, with six windows? I ask because I
> don't know if I am leaving two (or three) Activities in existence but
> uncompleted, that may come back to bite me in the future.
> But it it is going to leave me with shower curtains on each desktop, I
> don't think I'm interested. Can I hide them in some way, and go about my
> business in the way I have until now enjoyed?

Hopefully the above explanations help clarify things a bit.  It'll take 
some getting used to, perhaps reading some of those tutorials you 
mentioned, but over time, you'll probably get more comfortable with it, 
and as already mentioned, the UI should be markedly improved with kde 
4.4, scheduled for February.

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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