Installing KDE 4.3.2 on Ubuntu

15 Nov/09

KDE is not a desktop that should be overlooked. Not only did it completely redefine itself upon the launch of 4.x, it has added features that have made it unique in the land of desktops. But because KDE completely re-invented itself at version 4 it’s almost as if you have to consider this a completely new desktop. That should explain the landslide of problems that surrounded the Linux desktop until some of the more recent releases fixed many of the major issues. And although not as slick and clean as the latest releases of GNOME, KDE 4.3.2 has made plenty of strides forward to once again became an outstanding desktop environment for the Linux operating system.

The only problem you will find is that some of the many distributions do not ship with KDE installed. If you want KDE on these distributions you must install it. In this article I am going to walk you through the steps for installing the latest KDE on a Ubuntu system. Now you may be saying to yourself: “Why don’t I just install Kubuntu and be done with it? That’s a good question. The answer? Most new users have no idea that Kubuntu even exists and will have already installed the GNOME-based Ubuntu. For those people who already have their Linux running, they might want to give the KDE desktop a try as well. That is where tutorials like this come in handy. And of course, once we get KDE installed, we will also take it one step further and install support for Compiz so you can have your 3D effects just like you can on GNOME.


Unfortunately you can’t just open up the Ubuntu Software Center, do a search for KDE, and install. You will have to add repositories to you /etc/apt/sources.list file before you can run the installation command. Fortunately, this is as simple as issuing a few commands.

The first two commands you need to issue will add the proper repositories to your sources.list file. With the help of these commands you will not need to open that file up in an editor, as they will simply add the necessary lines for you. So open up a terminal window and issue these two commands (NOTE: Each command is one line long so just copy and paste each command, one at a time, into your terminal. After you copy one command hit enter and then copy paste the next command.):

sudo sh -c "echo 'deb jaunty main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list"


sudo sh -c "echo 'deb jaunty main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list"

Now that you have the necessary lines you will need to add the correct GPG key with this command:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 8AC93F7A

Finally, for the installation, issue the command:

sudo aptitude install kubuntu-desktop

This will require a fairly hefty download, so give this some time. During the installation you will have to do one bit of configuration which is to choose your graphical login manager. I would suggest sticking with the GNOME login manager GDM.

Compiz support

Now it’s time to build in some Compiz support. You will find, after you install KDE that, no matter how you configure it, KDE will not work with Compiz – even if Compiz is working perfectly with GNOME. That is because you have to add KDE Compiz support. To do this issue the command:

sudo apt-get install compiz-kde

Once that installation has completed you will then need to open the Compiz Configuration Settings Manager (use the command ccsm) and then, under the General category, check the KDE Compatibility check box. You should now be good to go with both KDE and Compiz.

Final thoughts

Do not judge KDE 4.x on previous releases. You owe it to yourself and to the developers of KDE to give the 4.3 release a try. Once you do I think you will see it has matured quite a bit over the last year. And now, with the help of this tutorial, you can do just that.

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