Exploring Kubuntu 18.04 LTS and the Plasma desktop

Personalizing Your Plasma Desktop

Kubuntu is all about being configurable, providing you with a wide range of configuration settings. With these options, you can configure almost any desktop paradigm.

By default, Kubuntu comes with three different Kickoff menus (the Plasma icon on the bottom left that launches the application chooser ) To see the different styles, right-click on the Kickoff icon. Click on Alternatives, and you will be presented with a switcher that contains three choices:

  • Application Dashboard: Provides a full-screen application chooser.
  • Application Launcher: Enabled by default.
  • Application Menu: An option familiar to all KDE aficionados.

Next you can change the bottom panel, making it a little smaller, shorter, and centered. This option is useful for getting a little extra screen real estate. On the very right of the bottom panel, click the hamburger menu (three horizontal bars ). This option opens the configuration settings. On the right, you'll notice two arrows (left and right). The arrows allow you to shrink or stretch the panel.

On the left, you'll notice a double-ended arrow, which allows you to move the positioning of the panel from left to right. Shrink the panel a little (to suit your taste) and then position it (central is nice and rather OSX-like ).

You can also add an activities launcher to make it easier to switch activities without having to right-click on the desktop.

From the panel configuration menu, click on +Add Widgets, and click and drag the Activities widget (which shows the activity manager) down onto the bottom panel. You'll notice that the icons slide around as you choose a position. Once you are happy with the location, left-click to drop the widget onto the panel. Voila! Now you have an activity switcher on your panel (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The OSX-inspired menu panel with an activity switcher.

You can add many more widgets to the bottom panel using the same technique.

A Few Final Funky Features

So far I have only scratched the surface of what is possible with Kubuntu 18.04. I'll finish this article by presenting some really funky new features.

When you first install Kubuntu it runs a background process called Baloo. Baloo's job is to provide a Luciene index of your home directory. This index is used by the global menu to provide super-quick access to your files and directories.

To access the global menu, click Alt+Space, and the menu will appear top and center.

Type anything you like into the box, and the global menu will show you some intelligent results – whether it be launching an application, locating a file, or finding a contact. In fact, the global menu will even present you with potential applications that you might want to install from the KDE Discover Software Center. Now that's pretty funky wouldn't you agree?

Finally, I want to share a hidden gem with you. You might want to add extra items into your launcher menu. An example might be if you have downloaded an application from the Internet, and perhaps installed it yourself, and you find that there is no entry in the Application Launcher. Use the global menu Alt+Space and type kmenuedit into the search box. Click on Run kmenuedit. The KMenuEdit application (Figure 5) will let you add additional Application Launcher menu items with icons.

Figure 5: Configuring additional menu entries using KMenuEdit.


  1. Kubuntu Community: http://www.kubuntu.org/community

The Author

Rick Timmis (http://www.ricktimmis.com) is a charismatic, optimistic, and sociable geek. He is an active participant in the free software and open source community, as well as a founding member and former CEO of the UK Open Source Consortium. He is currently a community manager, council member, and developer with the Kubuntu flavor of the Ubuntu linux distribution.

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