some questions & more questions

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at
Mon Nov 16 21:36:05 GMT 2009

spir posted on Sun, 15 Nov 2009 19:01:45 +0100 as excerpted:

> Hello,
> Recently switched to kde on ubuntu 9.04, mainly because I also intend to
> switch to PCBSD in a short while. I'm happy with it, so, huge thanks to
> all the people involved in this huge project for so long.

Helpful hint:  Keep in mind that this is a kde list, not a distribution 
specific list.  As such, most here probably have little idea what version 
of kde comes with any particular distribution, especially if it's not 
their own.  Thus, always mention the kde version you're running, in 
addition to the distribution.  Since you mention kickoff, I know it's 
kde4 something, but what specific version I'm not sure.

> Here are some kde newbie questions anyway:
> 1. help
> The help system does not match at all what I actually find in kde.
> Probably outdated? Can someone confirm? Switched to english, same issue.

Yes, the help system is outdated.  Many bits were outdated even on the 
latest kde3, let alone kde4.  Someone else mentioned userbase.  
Personally, I couldn't find much of help there, but that was some time 
ago and I tend to think more like a sysadmin than an ordinary user, so 
sometimes I have difficulty figuring out where to find stuff that 
ordinary users don't seem to have a problem with, so there's a reasonable 
chance that was just me.  YMMV.

But you can always ask here. =:^)

> 2. language
> After switching to english in system settings, and rebooting, many
> things still appear in precious language (fr); and some texts bits
> suddenly are in catalan and even a few in german, too;-) (eg in kate).
> This actually shows how incredibly smart kde design is, for these
> languages are precisely the ones I can understand at best! I really
> wonder about the AI algorithm behind such successful guesses.

This one's a bit of a sensitive issue ATM between kde and (k)ubuntu.  The 
way (k)ubuntu's i18n projects work simply don't mesh well with the way 
kde handles things.  As I only do English and I prefer Gentoo to *buntu 
anyway, I haven't followed the details, but I've seen devs on both sides 
mention it as a frustration in their blogs, as carried on kde-planet.  

However, from what I've gathered, it basically comes down to this.  
*buntu users end up choosing between two different things.  Either they 
can stick with the originally shipped *buntu kde for that *buntu release, 
only upgrading when *buntu puts out a new release, and the strings should 
be managed by *buntu (with bugs going their way), thus losing out on the 
intermediate kde updates, or they can do the intermediate kde updates, 
but end up with a mish-mash of languages as the kde l10n updates in the 
latest version clash with the *buntu l10n from the original versions 
installed with that *buntu release.

Because kde4 is still somewhat buggy and a number of them still fixed 
with every update, naturally, the upstream kde preference is that 
everybody runs the latest kde4, possibly installing it independent of 
their distribution if necessary.  However, it's understood that most 
users aren't going to be willing to do all that compiling on their own, 
and that these l10n issues due exist and depending how much they bother 
an individual user, some will choose to stay on the original *buntu 
shipped version until the next *buntu release.

> 3. kickoff modif + size
> Is it possible to modify kickoff from inside (eg renaming or moving an
> entry)? Right click brings nothing. Is it possible to let kickoff
> "remember" its size (so that favorites and main app menus are all
> visible)? presently, it resizes automatically to ~ half screen hight.

When I drag-resize kickoff to a new size here, it remembers it.  That's 
with kde-4.3.3 on Gentoo.  However, as I said, various bugs are still 
actively being fixed on every update, so it's quite possible earlier 
versions had the issue, tho I don't remember it but then my work-style 
doesn't involve kickoff much, so I likely wouldn't have.  Of course it's 
also possible that it's a *buntu-specific bug.

Kickoff itself, while the default main kde menu applet, isn't the only 
one, and isn't all that dynamic (not as context menu enabled, not as drag-
n-drop enabled, etc), comparatively.  The other mature alternative is the 
lancelot menu.  You can probably add it from the add widgets list.  
(FWIW, KDE's desktop app is plasma, and its widgets are also referred to 
as plasmoids.  So if you see a reference to plasmoids or the add 
plasmoids list/menu, you know what the reference is.)  However, depending 
on your work-style and chosen plasma theme, lancelot may or may not be 
better for you, as it does work a bit differently.  But it's easy enough 
to switch between them or even to keep buttons for both available, if you 
choose to, once you know they're both available. =:^)

Anyway, lancelot is a bit more dynamic in regard to drag-n-drop and 
modification from within itself.  YMMV as they say, but it's certainly 
worth trying.

You can also choose a more classic menu layout, if desired.  Either add 
the plasmoid, or right-click on the kicker plasmoid and switch to 
classic.  Again, there's little stopping you from switching between them 
or having multiple launchers, each for a specific mode of operation, 
whatever works best for you.

> 4. kickoff config save/restore
> These a strange and very naughty bug (on my system) in kickoff config
> utility: restoring previous state after an error actually resets the
> original default menu (even if saved 10 times in between). So that all
> changes from installation are lost & have to be remade from scratch.
> Very bad --it's a penible job. (Don't reply it's a "feature", or I will
> myself reply you speak like... ;-) (By the way, I couldn't apply to
> kde's bug tracker. Tried twice, but never got to enter a password, nore
> received any by mail.) So, can somenone tell me where the config is
> saved (there is no possibility to define it, the save button does not
> pop any menu), so that I have a chance to backup my config. I intend to
> copy-save the default one for if ever, and replace it by my own
> settings.

You're talking about kmenuedit, and the "Restore to System Menu" option?  
If so, that's what it /does/, restore to the system menu, losing all user 

If you simply want to restore to the previous saved state, simply exit 
without saving, and restart kmenuedit if desired to start over again.  
Don't use the restore to system menu option unless that's exactly what 
you want to do, because that's exactly what it does.  "NOTABUG" =:^)

> 5. amarok messes up files & folders
> When trying to play an album, another one is played instead. Feedback
> text shows the name of the album/folder I asked for, and the title of
> the song/file actually played. Minirok never plays the album I ask for,
> instead always the first songs of my collection, in alphabetic order.

I gave up on amarok for kde4 (I used to use it with kde3), as they got 
rid of all the features from the kde3 version I liked, and bloated it up 
with a lot of (to me) "junk" that I hadn't the slightest need (or want) 
of.  In addition, in total disregard for the significant segment of their 
userbase on 64-bit, they decided to depend on mysql-embedded, which had 
serious amd64/x86_64 issues at the time.  Now that might be fine for the 
majority of their userbase and/or where they decided they wanted to take 
the app, I won't quarrel with that, but it was quite obvious they were 
going in an ENTIRELY different direction than I was interested in going, 
so I did the logical thing and "got off that bus", so I could catch one 
going the direction I wanted to go. =:^)

(FWIW, the "bus" I decided was going the direction I wanted to go in is 
called mpd, music player daemon.  That's the backend for a whole list of 
front-end clients, including qt4, gtk2, CLI/command-line-interface, 
curses-based text-UIs, even web based remote clients, if that's your 
thing.  One of the major benefits is that I can now continue to listen to 
music uninterrupted whether I'm running X/KDE or simply working at the 
command prompt, of course running the appropriate client to control 
things if I decide I want to switch playlists or something, or just let 
it continue playing without a running front-end at all.  It's not for 
everyone, but it was certainly more my thing than Amarok for kde4, with 
its whole host of dependencies for stuff I didn't need, and few of the 
features I used to enjoy back on kde3.  Definitely YMMV.)

> 6. place icons on control panels
> Is it possible to drag/place icons on a control panel? How can one chose
> the place of or move icons once they are there (eg sent from kickoff)?
> Is there a control panel layout utility? Tried all what I could imagine
> without any success.

Control panel?  You mean the various plasma panels (of which there's only 
one by default, IIRC)?  Assuming so...

To the first question, icons, yes, it's possible, but again, kickoff's 
not quite as flexible as lancelot in this regard.  The other alternative 
is to add the appropriate plasmoid and configure it as desired.  Note 
that it's possible to have a submenu launcher as well.

Plasma, new to kde4, is still evolving.  It's not a mature app by a long 
way.  As such, various features and bits of it can and do change/improve 
as the kde version number increments.  You mentioned *buntu 9.04, which 
would have still been kde 4.2.x unless you updated, but you said that 
wasn't working so well so I'll assume you haven't.  In kde and 
particularly plasma terms, that's pretty old and rather buggy.  4.3.3 
works much better.

The panel configuration thing is part of plasma and so it too is 
continuing to evolve.  The way plasma/kde4 handles it is very different 
than kde3/kicker.  Supposedly it's more intuitive, but some of us only 
find it more exasperating.  Never-the-less, it is *HUGELY* improved (and 
much LESS exasperating) from early 4.2 status by 4.3.3.

Anyway, I /think/ you're running 4.2.x and thus have the biggest 
improvements, which came with 4.1 and 4.2.  Assuming so, first ensure 
that widgets are unlocked (should be on most of the context menus, or on 
the "cashew" configuration icon), then choose panel settings.  This 
should invoke a second "configuration bar" "docked" to the panel.  From 
here you can change the size of the panel, which edge it docks too, auto-
hide, always visible, etc.  *PLUS*, with the config bar visible, you can 
now hover over individual plasmoids on the panel and the pointer should 
change into a 4-way arrow, indicating that you can now drag the 
individual plasmoids around to different spots on the panel, or drag them 
off the panel onto the desktop (or from the desktop to a panel), etc.  Do 
note, however, that plasmoids have their own ideas about size, and may or 
may not allow you to place and size them as you'd really like to, if you 
had the necessary control.  Here, I discovered that in some cases, I had 
better luck if I added another panel, resizing and positioning all those 
on the same edge so they all fit, and moved some of the plasmoids to 
different panels sized so the plasmoid(s) did what I wanted it/them to 
do.  As I said, things are markedly better in the newer versions, tho not 
perfect just yet.

> 7. ATI Radeon
> Intended to activate the proprietary driver for my ATI radeon video
> card, but the setup menu does not show any. Is it now automatic? Or is
> there now a free driver for it? There used to be an entry in previous
> versions of ubuntu.

This would be a *buntu specific question.  It's not something kde deals 
with.  Ask on the *buntu forums/lists.

> 8. num lock
> ... is again lost at startup (while properly set in BIOS). Had the same
> issue is several ubuntu versions some time ago, then worked fine with
> 9.04. Couldn't find any setting for that in kde.

In kde 4.3.3 at least, it's in "The application formerly known as 
kcontrol" (aka system settings), under computer administration, keyboard 
and mouse, keyboard (that's the kcontrol widget), NumLock on KDE Startup.

> 9. power off
> Clicking on any "switch off" icon, or activating it from  menu, actually
> switches off the computer at once without popping any choice (restart,
> etc...), while settings seem ok as far as I understand the doc (checked
> both "confirm..." and "options"). Also, this action sometimes freezes
> the system, need to to brutally hardware-power off.

This might be a *buntu issue or an earlier kde4 issue.  I switched to 
kde4 with 4.2.4, and it has always obeyed the config I had set here 
(kcontrol, advanced user settings, session manager, on kde 4.3.3).

Do note that there are also separate hotkey shortcuts for the "with 
confirmation" and "without confirmation" actions.  If you're using the 
shortcuts, you may need to either use the other one, or switch them 
around so the one you want is activated by the shortcut you want.  
(kcontrol, computer admin, keyboard and mouse, global keyboard shortcuts, 
kde-component dropdown set to run command interface, again, as of 4.3.3.)

> 10. "activate by simple click"
> Sorry for the trivial issue: cannot find this setting in kde.

Again as of kde 4.3.3, again in kcontrol, computer admin, keyboard/mouse, 
mouse, general tab, icons section, double- or single-click with various 

> 11. docs do not appear on the desktop -- mounting issue Docs I save on
> the desktop never appear there. Have to find them through Dolphin.

kde4 has an entirely new desktop paradigm.  The idea is that the desktop 
shouldn't be a simple static view of some directory somewhere, but should 
be much more dynamic, with various widgets (again, aka plasmoids) 
appearing there with various information, etc.  This can certainly 
include views on various directories, but it's not limited to that.  
There's all sorts of different plasmoids to choose from, doing all sorts 
of different things.  Add the ones you want.  Delete the ones you don't.  
Go to and download more, if the ones that come shipped with 
kde4 don't do what you want...

One thing that's neat about this is that with the composite window 
transparency effects, it's now possible to see a filtered view of the 
desktop even thru a window or two.  Dynamic monitoring of various system 
or other information on the desktop is therefore possible, even thru a 
window, if desired.

You can even configure multiple "activities", each with its own set of 
desktop plasmoids, and switch between them.  Some people have a whole set 
of plasmoids devoted to weather, for instance, and have a weather 
activity, that shows all these weather plasmoids.  There's a web-comic 
plasmoid, and several other plasmoids available that allow you to view a 
web page or an image at a particular URL, so you can have a comics 
activity, or setup things to display the "photo of the day" from various 
sites.  There's all sorts of system monitor plasmoids available, so you 
can monitor CPU activity and temps, fan speeds, battery life if on a 
laptop, net speeds, wifi signal strength if wireless, etc, all using 
different system monitor plasmoids, and some people have an activity 
dedicated to that.

What you're after is the folder view plasmoid.  Now, instead of just a 
single view of a single directory, you can have multiple folder-view 
plasmoids, each pointed at its own directory! =:^)

All that said, some people just wanted their nice simple single directory 
view back, and I believe it was 4.3.0 that reintroduced that as a 
choice.  As of kde 4.3.3, right-click on the desktop and choose desktop 
settings.  At the top, there's a type selector that defaults to desktop.  
Change that to folderview and configure the directory it points to and 
other settings as desired...

> Also,
> about dolphin, external devices randomly show or not, sometimes like if
> empty or with their actual content. Do you have any hint about this
> behaviour (really annoying when producing or restoring backup? I have to
> try several times, especially with CDs.)

There's a device notifier plasmoid that shows the recently plugged in 
devices.  Clicking on one pops up a window with the various possible 
actions, based on device type (this is configurable in kcontrol), using 
information as presented by hal's detection.  If the device type is a 
filesystem, it'll let you mount it, assuming there's no entry for it in 
your fstab.  If there's an entry in fstab, hal should ignore it and let 
it be handled the conventional way.

The new filesystems appear as icons in dolphin's places.  If the 
filesystem isn't mounted, clicking on one of the icons should mount it 
and display that filesystem.

But all this depends upon the proper functioning of various components, 
including hal.  It's possible something's buggy.  It maybe the hal 
shipped by *buntu, it may be kde, in which case a newer version may have 
fixed it (I've not had issues with it here on gentoo, at least since kde 
4.3.0), etc.  It's also possible some of the variability you are 
observing may be due to some of them being configured in fstab, so hal 
ignores them, or due to the type of media plugged in, and whether hal 
treats it as a filesystem or not, or other similar variables. (Example: 
someone complained earlier because there was no choice to open an audio-
CD in dolphin... that choice only appears when there's a real filesystem, 
which an audio-CD doesn't have).

> 12. help search
> Does not even try to work (button is "drabbed").

That would appear to be a *buntu issue.

> 13. save whole config
> Is there a way to save the whole kde config, so that I can restore it
> all after a total system installation (because my filesystem is now a
> real mess and I haven't enough space (*) where needed -- either I will
> reinstall kubuntu from scratch or move to PCBSD).

The user kde config is normally under ~/.kde, or sometimes ~/.kde4 or a 
similar variant, depending on your distribution.  If you have /home as a 
separate filesystem as in many installations, it's normally possible to 
totally reinstall the "system" without touching user config, everything 
in /home, at all.  Of course, if you have everything on the same 
filesystem/partition, yeah, reinstalling will probably wipe it.

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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