How to redistribute a customized KDE desktop? (Debian derivative)

adrelanos adrelanos at
Wed Oct 24 14:37:49 BST 2012

> adrelanos posted on Wed, 24 Oct 2012 10:26:07 +0000 as excerpted:
>> I am adrelanos, developer of Whonix, [1] which is a Debian derivative.
>> I want to customize the KDE desktop, only small things which you an
>> normally do with a few clicks. Such as adding desktop icons, changing
>> wallpaper and theme, modifying the taskbar, enable show menu bar in
>> Dolphin, etc.
>> What is the recommend way of doing so?
>> Can I just set up a fresh user account, make my changes and copy ~/.kde
>> and ~/.local to /etc/skel?
>> Cheers,
>> adrelanos
>> [1]
> You'll want to read the kde system administration guide (link below) on 
> kde techbase, in particular the sections on filesystem layout (both fdo/
> and kde) and/or environmental vars.
> Basically, kde has a hierarchial config layout in which the distro, 
> system (if customized from distro) and user configs all have the ability 
> to contain the same settings, with the user config (normally) overwriting 
> system, which overwrites distro, which overwrites built-in defaults.
> As a distro, you'd either place your files in the distro/system location, 
> or set the KDEDIRS var (often unset-builtin-defaulted to the single
> /usr/share dir, depending on distro) to contain both the debian and your 
> own custom system dirs (in the appropriate order so your settings 
> overwrote the debian and kde defaults, but the user and/or sysadmin could 
> still override yours).  That way, a user who moved away their KDEHOME 
> (defaulting to ~/.kde as shipped by upstream, but many distros change 
> that to ~/.kde4) in ordered to clear a broken user config would start 
> with your defaults, not the upstream debian or kde defaults, even if pull 
> in /etc/skel/ again.
> KDE's operational config is combined from both the KDEDIRS and KDEHOME 
> locations, with KDEDIRS itself stackable.  A sysadmin can thus put 
> settings in any of those locations.  A distro should confine themselves 
> to the system locations, of course, but you may wish to consider stacking 
> via KDEDIRS, so you can keep your customizations entirely separate, and 
> an admin or user can toggle between your customized and debian upstream 
> configs, for troubleshooting or the like.
> Do note, however, that with the upcoming kf5 (kde frameworks 5), some of 
> those location defaults may possibly move from the legacy kde specific 
> locations and vars to the new fdo-compliant locations.  The sysadmin 
> guide covers the fdo vars/locations to some extent as well, altho they 
> aren't being used that much yet, with kde4.

The variables echo "$KDEHOME" (in Terminal) and $KDEDIRS are empty.

/usr/share/kde4/config/config.README on Debian Wheezy tells:

"In this dir, /usr/share/kde4/config, default configurations are loaded.
If you as a sysadm needs to change default config, copy the relevant
into /etc/kde4/ and edit them. The files there will take precedence over

Added a new file plasma-desktop-appletsrc to /etc/kde4/ and filled it
with clock settings. (/etc/kde4/plasma-desktop-appletsrc did never
exist.) Added a new user and switched to the new user. The custom clock
settings were ignored. Also testing the whole file
~/.kde/share/config/plasma-desktop-appletsrc as
/etc/kde4/plasma-desktop-appletsrc was ignored.
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