KDE Plasma likes, dislikes, and would be nice to haves

With each new release of Ubuntu, I’ve stuck with the default desktop environment. These have worked well for me over the years, but thought I should see what else there is.

The only way for me to do it justice is to run KDE Plasma as my only desktop environment for a minimum of 2 weeks. So both my work station and my personal laptop are use KDE Plasma installed alongside Gnome 3 Shell on Ubuntu 19.10.

If I’m unhappy after the 2 weeks, I can always go back to Gnome. Or maybe try something else, like lxde or xfce.

I started on Sunday evening, and it’s now Wednesday afternoon. The following are my findings.

This is likely to be updated as I find new things or ways to fix niggles.

Likes

  • When an application shows in the “Task Manager” bar, one can click it to minimise the active window.
  • All icons showing in the “Task Manager” bar (Autokey is a GTK application, but can’t show its icon in Gnome 3, but manages to in KDE Plasma?).
  • Simple music controls on lock screen.

Dislikes

  • Even at max mouse sensitivity, it feels slower than on Gnome 3 – not good for a 3 monitor set-up – this may be subjective and not be an issue in time.
  • No option to locate the mouse cursor by pressing [ctrl].
  • Some windows don’t respond to a mouse wheel scoll until the window is clicked – this may be an issue only with GTK applications running on KDE Plasma.
  • Being asked for my SSH key in the terminal for every action – is there a key manager like in Gnome that I need to enable? Manually resolved by running `ssh-add` against each key required. Gnome does handle this a lot better 😐
  • Scrolling in an application window does not respond while a OSN is displayed – example: Spotify changing tracks

Things I’d like to see ported from Gnome 3 Shell

  • The option to only switch the central monitor when changing between virtual desktops.
  • Change between virtual desktops using [ctrl]+[alt]+arrow keys.

Things I’d like to see in all desktop environments

  • Option to have the cursor colour to invert as it passes over other colours – Windows does this.
  • Automatic window scaling based upon the native resolution of the monitor in use. If a window is moved from one monitor to another, and the resolution changes, the scale should adapt to keep it readable – Windows does this.

Embiggen .desktop loaded applications on Ubuntu

I keep forgetting the steps required for this, so thought I should write them up in one easy to remember blog post for myself.

My desktop set-up consists of 2 x 1080 and 1 x 4k display. Making sure that applications are readable is a bit of a farce.

But as long as I ensure that certain applications only ever appear on the correct monitor, means that I can alter the launcher to set the correct DPI scaling.

Case in point is the “thunderbird.desktop” launcher. I only ever use it on the 4k display (central monitor), so I can alter the launcher to pre-set the scaling to two times normal. Making it readable without squinting (I’m nearly 40 you know).

Using “locate thunderbird.desktop” we find that it’s stored at “/usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop”. So raised privileges will be needed to edit it.

“sudo nano -w /usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop”

Using “ctrl+\” to replace text, search for “Exec=thunderbird” and replace it with “Exec=env GDK_SCALE=2 thunderbird”. Use “ctrl+x” to save and exit the editor.

Now when the Thunderbird launcher icon is clicked, the application will be rendered at twice the normal size. Making the working day a lot less squinty.

Most amusing spam received to date

Sent 5 days ago to my work address, no less.

Guess I got away with it!

Upgrading Jenkins war file the quick and dirty way

The above bash script will download a given version of the jenkins.war file and symlink it into place before restarting the jenkins service.

Assumptions made:

  • The jenkins.war file is installed to /usr/share/jenkins
  • The server is using upstart for running services
  • User input is sane – there is no validation or sanitisation