[kde-linux] Re: Individual Desktop Settings

Alex Schuster wonko at wonkology.org
Sun May 1 17:51:07 UTC 2011

Duncan wrote:

> Alex Schuster posted on Mon, 18 Apr 2011 17:22:48 +0200 as excerpted:
> > Duncan writes:

> > Not sure yet what to make about this ativity stuff. I like the idea,
> > but I don't use it at all. Yet. Maybe later, it does not seem ready
> > yet to me. For example, I just created a 2nd activity,
> Watch out!  While activities seem to be /reasonably/ stable if left
> alone, screw with them too much and you'll wish you didn't!  I found
> that out the hard way.  See below...

Yeah, that's also my experience. Backups are in place...

> > and tried the different
> > layouts. The first thing that I think is misleading is that I first did
> > not see how to change the layout / the type of activity. The layout is
> > set by desktop menu -> settings for X, if your current layout is X.
> > Like, I had it set to 'workspace', and wanted to change it to 'search
> > and execute' (or something like that in English locale). So I have to
> > open the 'workspace' settings, and change the layout to 'search and
> > execute'. But the latter just is not a setting for workspace, but a
> > layout of my activity. Uhm, this sounds strange, I hope you understand
> > what I mean, I probably wouldn't.
> Very interesting point.   I guess that's plasma/kde4's version of the
> infamous "push the 'start button' to shutdown!" problem! =:^P
> Probably much like the more famous counterpart, things sort of "evolved",
> I guess.  I believe in early kde4 that dialog was originally simply
> called desktop settings, then the plasma folks decided to rename it
> dynamically to match the activity name, and the activity name came to
> default to the activity layout type.  So rather by accident, one now
> clicks <layout-type> settings, not just to change settings for that
> layout-type, but also to change to a different layout type!
> But you're the first person I've seen to actually point it out.  Good job
> spotting that! Sounds like something that should be bug-filed. =:^/

I'll think about it... and there are so many other things to report. But 
then I think that the developers probably already know about this.

> > BTW, I set the background image to weather, and I think now I should
> > have a dynamic wallpaper depending on the current weather, but this
> > does not work, I still have my default background.
> Note that "advanced" gives you the ability to choose the wallpaper linked
> to each type of weather, so you can see what it /should/ do.  And you
> have to choose a location, of course...

I set the location, and I saw the list of images that should be used. I
get a little flickering when I apply this layout, but soon the previous
desktop image is back.

> But between not updating (at least immediately), and the simple beauty of
> the wallpapers themselves, I don't use the weather wallpaper, just switch
> to one of the individual wallpapers that go with it, from time to time.

No problem here either, I was just playing around with this.

> Meanwhile, the globe wallpaper is simply astounding.  You'll need
> reasonable graphics for it, and here, it's a separate package, but...
> Just *WOW*!
> (I only recently discovered the separate package for it, and had
> installed it, but only just now actually tried it!)

What's that, maybe this here?

> > Anyway. I notice that with my newly created activity, I see some of my
> > applications, but not others. That is, some applications (Chromium,
> > Amarok, Konsole) are sticky on all activities, others (like Kontact)
> > only show up on the activity I already had, not on the new one. No idea
> > how I can configure this, which applications shall be visible on which
> > activities. I expected to be some setting for this in the application's
> > window settings, but I see none.

Either I was stupid, or the setting was really missing when I looked
for it. Now I find it directly in the window menu. But I had weird things 
happening that day, maybe that was another of these effects. I wouldn't be 

> I haven't experimented with this much myself for the reason given above
> and below, but IIRC, the controls were supposed to be on the activity
> panel.  But I'm not sure, and in fact, the controls are probably
> minimilistic at this point (see next).

I'd like to see an editor for this, showing every running application with 
checkboxes for each activity. That would be easier than using each 
application's menu. But then, it's a thing that one configures only once, 
and later chanegs can be made with the existing window menu entry.

> FWIW, 4.6 is starting to hint at what the ultimate design is supposed to
> be, but it's not really there yet.  4.7 is when the power of activities
> is supposed to really start to become evident.

Yeah, I heard so. Let's wait then.

> > Meanwhile, due to a memory problem with the fglrx driver, I logged out
> > and in again. And when I open the activity menu, I suddenly have four
> > activities: Admin (my default one), Test (the 2nd one I just created),
> > Test (same name, and this one has the play button, while all others
> > show the stop button), and one called New Activity. Again I clicked at
> > the stop button on a activity, and the button is gone. What does this
> > button do? I have no idea. Should I?
> You've just struck the bug I mentioned above! =:^(
> Hopefully it doesn't start hatching new activities every time you logout/
> in, or simply quit and restart plasma-desktop.[1]  But that's what it did
> to me once (4.5) , and I've seen reports of it doing the same to others
> in 4.6.  Apparently, if you play with activities too much (as when
> experimenting), plasma can get confused and store an invalid config file.
> Once it has done that, every time it starts it gets more confused and
> hatches even more activities, etc!

> Once this happens, you pretty much have to kill that config file (from
> memory, $KDEHOME/share/config/plasma-desktop-applets.rc, $KDEHOME of
> course referring to ~/.kde or ~/.kde4 by default on most distributions)
> and start over, tho for the extremely patient and reasonably technically
> inclined, it might be possible to edit out the extraneous sections of the
> file and recover to something sane, as I did here.  But it's a pain to
> figure out the config well enough to edit properly, so for most, simply
> deleting the file -- with plasma-desktop not running of course -- is the
> recommended and simplest fix.
> Meanwhile, it's definitely wise to backup the plasma* files in that dir
> before you do any heavy config changes to plasma, including experimenting
> with additional activities or layouts.  Yeah, like that helps you now,
> but at least you know what to delete to stop the proliferation if you've
> already triggered it.

Thanks for the warning. But I did not run into this problem. And I make
lots of backups, practically every time before I save the session. And
by now I know about the plasma-desktop-appletrc file, I had to manually
fix things inside when my favorite plasma problem started happening:
from time to time, my desktops have the wrong plasmoids.

Oh, some days later (those replies to your large mails tend to stay in the 
drafts folder for a while :) it did indeed happen. I deleted the additional 
activities, and all is fine now. No, not all, but at least this specific 
problem did not happen again.

> And I really do hope they figure out that issue and fix it for 4.7 or so,
> because by then, activities should start developing enough power that I
> and others will be interested in experimenting, and having to worry about
> loss of an already highly customized config when doing so is going to be
> a SERIOUS downer, even for those of us who know the files to backup and
> restore, should we need to.

I need those backups far too often. And I wonder how inexperienced users are 
suuposed to use KDE4. A good friend of mine just decided to not use it again 
and look for something else. Well, I think this will be a separate post.


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