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[HOWTO] KDE: getting started with split ebuilds
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Joined: 02 Apr 2006
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Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 2:36 pm    Post subject: [HOWTO] KDE: getting started with split ebuilds Reply with quote

[HOWTO] KDE: getting started with split ebuilds

Probably the most common reason against KDE is the installation size of the full KDE suite,
regarding users who don't want to install e.g. an english-japanese dictionary on a german
desktop, or play khangman on a dual nVidia 7800GTX SLI (even with an amazing frame rate :),
just to mention some.

On the other hand, installing kde with split ebuilds requires some research about the
who-is-who of KDE packages. With just the kdebase-startkde package one really gets no
more than a screen with 3 icons which cannot be opened (since no app is associated with).
No toolbar, no menu, exiting only goes via hard-kick (alt-ctrl-backspace, if enabled).
Slim to the last.

This howto is also for those of you who are new to KDE. The split-ebuilds method is likely to
become the one standard method with kde 4.0 and later, so i'd recommend all new users to use
this new way of installing kde before it comes to the need for a switch from monolithic to
split ebuilds.

This is just a brief list of packages you might want to check out beyond the kdebase-startkde
meta package, including a short description (anyway a bit longer than the quarter-liners from
the Gentoo package database), to make the getting-started thing a bit easier and to engage
people to give it a(nother) try, after all. :)

The following list also includes a few things from outside the original KDE repository, while
there are also some basic packages not mentioned, like kview, drkonqui, libkmime/mimelib or
anything else you like, but the following list can at least save some research time. Here we go.

base (required)

Simple kde session including qt, kde libs, kwin and some additional base packages. Note that
you might still leave a few things out if you just plan to use some kde apps on another desktop,
but if you want e.g. to configure some settings, the kde base environment is not too overdone.
More packages can be installed just on demand.


After installing the right video driver for your graphics accelerator and the
X-Window manager, you're through to the biggest install struggle since stage1; the kde
installation is pretty much easier. The kdebase-startkde bundle is required to run a
miniscule kde session, so go emerge it. After successfully starting the session (follow
the Gentoo guide about kde and how to configure kdm), you're ready to add more packages
just by emerging them. No further hassle with long install guides and the like.

more (recommended)

Additional stuff which you might want to install when kde shall be used as desktop rather than
just yet-another-logoff solution. For a desktop to work with (in alphabetical order):


The sound manager used by KDE includes a communication/processing server for
effects/filters and a synthesizer. Also enables further audio settings in kcontrol.

Note that this is a slightly bigger addition with some dependencies and more addons
to come for fully using arts with everything. Without arts, sound events and the
audio event environment would be crippled, but you might well have e.g. xmms play
sound files without arts, still with kmix in full control. If you're planning
a minimal system, you might be fine with just having sound at all. Note that
you should also disable arts in your make.conf as well to avoid auto-merging.

In the long end, there's hardly a way around arts, be it for sound events like
hardware sensor warnings, IM events or whatever applications can pull out of the
arts server, which is a lot. When you're new to arts, make sure that arts is included
in your USE variable, by calling "emerge --info". If not, add to /etc/make.conf before
building kde stuff, else you have to recompile many packages later on. After install,
i would also recommend to configure the audio event manager in kcontrol to have the
audio device released quickly after playing an event sound (1 sec.), not blocking
other applications from opening the audio device meanwhile. Located in the kde
control center, under "sound/multimedia".

dbus, hal

These two can be used (automatically) by kde for auto-mounting purpose, i.e. when
an USB memory stick is inserted, plopp - an icon appears on the desktop. This is the
modern way to handle these things, even if starting hal takes a moment.

kate, kate-plugins

The full-featured variant of the kate/kwrite/kedit trio, where kedit is the smallest
but simplest, kwrite is for standard usage and kate for advanced users, but not only
for geeks and developers. Kate is a good choice for many users except of those who are
up to a minimalistic installation or want another certain text editor. Of course there
are many other editors out, be it jedit (top class java editor) or one from an integrated
development environment (IDE). I'm missing some features in kate but it's already my
favorite on KDE because of a nice clean handling, modular design and the kde integration
which allows other apps like kdevelop to integrate a real text editor (kate) as MDI widget.


Nice desktop calculator, including extras for developers as well as scientific functions.


Nice clean color editor/chooser, plugs into color selection widgets and is another
must-have for the kde desktop.


Non-english users might want locale translation for their desktop and tools. Specify
your LINGUAS setting in /etc/make.conf to skip building translations for unneeded
languages. Example: LINGUAS="de en".


Standalone search dialog. Not needed when your personal toolmanager / environment
includes a file search to your like. On the other hand, kfind integrates well into
kde and is just one small package.


Search/replace in files, including batch support. Handy if you don't have an IDE or
file manager with a similar module ready.

kicker, kicker-applets

Without kicker there would be no taskbar, system tray or kde menu. The kicker taskbar
is a great standard toolbar with free choice of layout, usage, or number of bars.
Enjoy forming your taskbar(s) to your very like. The extra applets include a binary
clock, a tiny system monitor, a media control panel with xmms support, a color picker
and a math evaluator.


Hardly a way around, the kio subsystem is a virtual filesystem handler for use by
applications to communicate custom data in a filesystem environment and for use with
e.g. Konqueror to access things like compressed archive files, to mention one example.
There are even more kioslaves, like multimedia or pim kioslaves. If you're not missing
something and also don't want konqueror then you might spare this out, but on the other
hand, this is one base component from the recommended side of kde. If unsure, go install
it until you know better, avoiding a crippled system. If you're going to install konqueror
as well, manual merging isn't required since kioslaves is one of konqueror's dependencies.


Adds support for certain input devices such as media keyboards, including support
for audio volume/mute control keys with visual feedback. If you have a media keyboard
with audio controls then this package is a must-have IMHO.


If you want kicker, you'll probably also want kmenuedit to edit the kde start menu.
The editor just comes in a separate package.


System audio mixer applet (opt. system tray). If you plan to use audio, you'll want
a mixer. kmix is a good choice there, also does not require arts being installed.
An alternative to kmix is named kamix (with all knobs & sliders in one window).


Good graphical file comparison tool, as alternative to kdiff3.

konqueror, kmail, kaddressbook, kontact

A nice & feature-rich set of pim applications and a fast & versatile browser/desktop
crawler are part of kde. Personally, i'm a Firefox/Thunderbird user, but this is just
what i do. Konqueror is pretty fast, can optionally be loaded into ram for quick starts
and does very well at all, not to mention local desktop browsing. At least if you don't
utilize other applications for opening e.g. a desktop folder, konqueror is highly
recommended there. Beyond that, if your favorite browser throws any problem, then
it is always good to have an alternative (something beyond lynx..). Slim package,
very fast start even if the quickstart feature isn't used. I've installed konqueror
even while using firefox as internet browser. Also a cool local html viever.

Kmail is a well-rounded addition to the kde pim exchange subsystem. If you don't have a
favorite mailer, kmail has the usual plus point over others without support for kde pim.
Note that installing kmail would include a big bunch of dependencies, which i considered
a bit too fat for my personal taste. Kontact is a dependency of kmail, while kaddressbook
would complete the whole thing.


No shell, no Linux. konsole supports session-type themes (e.g. for root shells or
otherwise different shells), a tabbed shell session window with smooth keyboard
navigation, "transparent for Midnight Commander" color scheme and red icons for
root shells.. :) Must-have.


kde's audio recorder.

kscreensaver, kdeartwork-screensaver

Of course we want a screensaver on board. kscreensaver integrates well and the
artwork package adds some candy, including some OpenGL-based 3D blankers, but of
course there are other (and better) screenblankers out there. If you don't like
the original blankers, just install kscreensaver as base (container) system.


Screen/window snapshot utility, of course fits well into kde.

kstart, ksystraycmd

Used to run applications with certain window settings, where ksystraycmd is a tad
better when it comes to force apps to minimize to the system tray but has less
options than kstart, so both are recommended. Don't ask why there are two tiny
packages for just one tiny thing.


Useful system monitor & task manager. I would highly recommend this package.


It won't take long until you got xmms on the harddisk (of course this is not a KDE
package). Excellent audio player with wide compatibility and many nice features incl.
plugin interfaces. There are xmms plugins even for exotic things like Soundtracker
mods or C64 SID music. Can be used with multimedia keyboards via command interface
and usually works on every Linux desktop box. Pretty small and fast as well, with a
well-chosen default skin.

On the minus side is the classic WinAmp2 skin interface which is pretty limited,
even if there's a zillion of skins available in the net. If you got used to WinAmp3
with skins like MMD3, Riddick or something, you'll likely be missing some there..

After installing the above stuff, kde becomes a bit more familiar, still with a clean
desktop and with hundreds of packages not yet installed.

extra (optional)

More packages you might find useful when kde's your desktop.


CD/DVD burning suite, de-facto standard for Linux users as well as for those who
just moved from Nero (Windows) to Linux. Probably not the minimalist's favorite.


Icons, themes, wallpapers, emoticons and more artwork stuff for desktop theming.
Don't miss the various internet resources beyond the base kdeartwork packages.


As the name says, this one is for software developers. This might be a bit off-topic
but i just wanted to mention this one for people in search for a nice IDE (Integrated
Development Environment). It assists you through everything from project creation up
to building a release archive with auto-auto-install and a copy of the GPL license
packed into a correctly named release archive.

About 2 years ago i had minor problems with some features, but the IDE is already
far developed and fully capable for snipping a C/C++ program into the world, on a
POSIX, Gnome/GTK, KDE/QT or other platform/environment. Comes with support for kate
as embedded editor and many useful gifts for the lazy coder, thus already my favorite.

Alternatively, another fine IDE is named Anjuta, with a great editor as well as the
fully working project auto-baking feature just mentioned above.


Hex editor (binary file editor), for those of you who don't have one included in
the favorite text editor. If you don't know what a hex editor is, don't bother.


Easy-to-use quick connector for samba (and other) shares. IMHO much better than the
classic smb4k thing which i never felt familiar with. Requires samba for smb connections
but doesn't require configuring samba. Just the package, ma'am.


If you don't want to install a Gnome environment just for installing gaim or other
Gnome-based IM clients, kopete is full-featured, highly configurable, supports all
common IM protocols, plus customization features. Still not my personal favorite. :)


Powerful two-panel file manager. I didn't use it for long years, but recent versions
(1.70+) are more attractive & easier to use meanwhile, including a TotalCommander-like
mouse mark mode and a better search dialog. One thing i'm still missing is the close
connection to the shell as seen in Midnight Commander, with macros ala %s for the
current selection, where krusader's shell is just a konsole widget. However, if you
like twin-panel file managers, this one is a must-see.


If you don't like to deal with console-based utils for Linux user/group management
(eeek!), then kuser is for you. Kinda luxury package once everything is setup, but
i've added this thing to my harddisk, too.

Of course there are more things to consider, especially media players/vievers/editors,
office apps and the like, but this would go beyond this guide which is intended as an
overview of some more important/basic stuff, where the 'extras' section already contains
packages you might not want to have. Some people even don't want arts.

Eventually, my current installation (without kmail/kaddressbook and the kdeartwork stuff)
contains less than 15% of all KDE packages, which turns KDE into a pretty slim but still
great-looking and feature-rich desktop manager. A nice, clean KDE menu with just a few
entries, easily configured & maintained, not to mention kde updates or system backups.

Whenever you're searching further apps, don't forget to include the KDE package base in
your search, maybe the stuff you want is just amongst the original packages, which would
of course fit well into the KDE desktop since they were just made for it. KDE a bloated
desktop? Not at all.

Hope you found this guide somehow useful. Have fun rolling your own KDE desktop!

Oliver 'Bloody' Lange.

Last edited by Bloody100 on Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:41 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice list! I always wondered what the deal with the kde editers were. I also wanted to mention that you forgot to add amaroK, for those of us who don't like xmms :wink:
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Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alienjon wrote:
Nice list! I always wondered what the deal with the kde editers were. I also wanted to mention that you forgot to add amaroK, for those of us who don't like xmms :wink:

Yep, especially in the multimedia sector there are many nice goodies, like kuickshow, amaroK and so many more that i decided not to add them all here.

While installing a fresh Gentoo with split kde on a new box, XMMS quickly showed up on the dependency list of some kde package (i don't remember which one exactly), so i added XMMS to the list as well.

Oliver 'Bloody' Lange.
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