Using Kubuntu - The Official Ubuntu Book (2011)

The Official Ubuntu Book (2011)

Chapter 8. Using Kubuntu

Introduction to Kubuntu

Installing Kubuntu

Navigating in Kubuntu

Customizing Kubuntu

System Administration

Managing Files with Kubuntu

Common Applications

Finding Help and Giving Back to the Community


The kubuntu project strives to take the best of Ubuntu and the best of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) to produce a great Linux distribution. This chapter covers information ranging from what exactly Kubuntu is to how to manage and keep your Kubuntu system up to date with the latest applications and fixes. The goal of Kubuntu is to provide a graphically beautiful and easy-to-use Linux operating system, an OS that is simple to customize to your needs.

Introduction to Kubuntu

Kubuntu is an official product of Ubuntu—a complete implementation of the Ubuntu OS led by the Kubuntu Council (an elected group of developers) and an army of volunteers including two Canonical employees (Jonathan Riddell and Aurélien Gâteau). However, Kubuntu uses KDE Desktop Environment as the graphical user interface instead of GNOME, as in Ubuntu. The main goal of Kubuntu is to be an integrated Linux distribution with all of the great features of Ubuntu, but based on KDE. Since Kubuntu is an official part of the Ubuntu community, it adheres to the same Ubuntu manifesto: Great software should be available free of charge and should be usable by people in their own language and regardless of disability. Also, people should be able to customize and alter their software in ways they deem fit.

Like Ubuntu, Kubuntu makes the following commitments: Kubuntu will provide the very best translations and accessibility infrastructure that the free software community has to offer; Kubuntu will always be free of charge, and there is no extra cost for an “enterprise” version; and Kubuntu will always provide the latest and best software from the KDE community.

Looking for a certain piece of software? Kubuntu has it, with more than 1,000 pieces of software in its repositories, including the latest kernel version and, of course, the latest KDE. The standard desktop applications (Web browsing, e-mail, word processing, and spreadsheet applications) allow Kubuntu to replace any current desktop OS. If you are running servers—whether they’re Web servers, e-mail servers, or database servers—Kubuntu can do that as well.

A History of KDE

In 1996, Matthias Etrich posted a now famous newsgroup post that described some of the problems he had with the UNIX desktop.

UNIX popularity grows thanks to the free variants, mostly Linux. But still a consistent, nice looking, free desktop environment is missing. There are several nice either free or low-priced applications available, so that Linux/X11 would almost fit everybody’s needs if we could offer a real GUI. . . .

IMHO a GUI should offer a complete graphical environment. It should allow a user to do his everyday tasks with it, like starting applications, reading mail, configuring his desktop. . . . All parts must fit together. . . .

The goal is NOT to create a GUI for the complete UNIX-system or the System-Administrator. . . . The idea is to create a GUI for an ENDUSER.

With that post, he started building the KDE Project. KDE originally stood for the Kool Desktop Environment but was adapted to be KDE Software Compilation. The mascot for KDE is a green dragon named Konqi, who can be found in various applications.

Matthias chose to develop KDE around the Qt toolkit, and by 1997, the first large, complex applications were being released. However, there was much debate because Qt was not licensed with a free software license. Two projects came about from this debate, one named Harmony, which would use only free libraries, and another project called GNOME. In 1998, the Qt toolkit was licensed under a new open source license called the Q Public License (QPL), and in 2000, Qt was released under the GNU General Public License.

KDE is primarily a volunteer effort. However, many companies employ developers to work on this project. Some of these companies include Novell (through the purchase of SUSE Linux) and Trolltech, the company that produces the Qt toolkit [now owned by Nokia]).

KDE 4.0 came with a great number of changes to the desktop environment, including the introduction of Plasma, Solid, Krunner, and many other infrastructure changes, most of which are discussed throughout this chapter.

KDE 4.6 is the current version of KDE that ships with Kubuntu 11.04. Significant improvements have been made over the first release of KDE.

For more information on KDE, visit the project’s Web site at The project’s home page also provides information on how you can help with the project and contribute to the KDE community.

A History of Kubuntu

When Ubuntu was first being discussed, there were rumors that it would be based only on GNOME and that KDE would be left out. Jonathan Riddell, a KDE developer, posted an article on his blog that soon became the Number 1 hit on Google for Ubuntu Linux. The article states:

The signs are there that this could be something big, more so than the likes of Linspire, Xandros or Lycrosis. Unlike those companies, they [Canonical, Ltd.] understand Free Software and open development. It is likely to be a GNOME-based job, but maybe there is a KDE developer out there who is working for them without letting on. If not I’m always available.

This post started a flurry of activity for both Riddell and the others who wanted to participate.

A lot of changes needed to be made to get Kubuntu working correctly. The hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and other programs and packages had to be changed to fit the philosophy of Ubuntu. A clean Kmenu had be created, and more people were needed to join the project. It was a conscious decision to keep the default KDE colors and icons in order to remain as close to KDE as possible.

Kubuntu 10.04 was a long-term release which means it will be supported on the desktop for 3 years.

Prior to the 10.04 release, a group of Kubuntu developers got together to discuss what exactly needed to be changed and improved. Out of these discussions came what has been named “Project Timelord” with the goals to focus on translations, marketing, software, user–developer interaction, and recruitment. An example of this is the Firefox Installer, discussed later in the chapter.

Kubuntu 10.04 also included the first official release of a netbook-specific edition called Kubuntu Netbook Remix.

Kubuntu 11.04 continues the previous excellent releases of the Kubuntu project complete with the latest version of KDE SC. One of the changes in 11.04 is the Netbook edition is no longer a separate version, but based on the display, the install will provide either the full desktop version or the netbook version. Another major change is using reqonk (a webkit based web browser) as the default web browser.

Kubuntu is quickly building a sizable community of its own. There are more dedicated package maintainers joining the Kubuntu community as well as a growing and equally dedicated documentation team. In addition, many community and enthusiast sites help provide both support and current information. These include sites such as Kubuntu has grown tremendously from just one developer to a large group as it continues to improve the quality of the distribution.

Installing Kubuntu

Installing Kubuntu is just like installing Ubuntu. It is pretty much a snap. Let’s start with where you can find it.

Where to Find Kubuntu

Kubuntu is available at An image file can be downloaded and then burned onto either a DVD or a CD-ROM. Two different types of Kubuntu images can be downloaded and used. The first is the desktop CD, which allows the user to test and run Kubuntu without changing any settings. The second is the alternate install CD, which provides for a more advanced installation.

The desktop CD of Kubuntu 11.04 is the primary way to install Kubuntu on your system. This CD is a great way to demonstrate the power of Kubuntu to your friends before they install it on their systems. The desktop CD acts as a live CD and allows Kubuntu to run on your system without erasing anything already installed.

Can I Switch to Kubuntu If I Have Ubuntu Installed Already?

If you have installed Ubuntu on your system already, it is extremely easy to install and configure Kubuntu. In the Ubuntu Software Center, find the package kubuntu-desktop, which provides all the necessary programs to have your system look and act like Kubuntu. Don’t worry—you can still switch between Ubuntu with GNOME and Kubuntu with KDE. Once Kubuntu is installed, you can choose which desktop environment to use, either GNOME or KDE. Also, if you have Kubuntu installed already and wish to install Ubuntu, it is just as simple to switch: Just install ubuntu-desktop through Software Management, and you will be using the GNOME desktop. For those who are switching from Ubuntu to Kubuntu, Software Management performs the same function as Ubuntu Software Center.

Once you have installed the kubuntu-desktop package, logout and choose Session from the menu when you log back in, after you enter your user name and before you enter your password. Select KDE as your window manager, and then select Make Default. From now on, KDE will start for you when you sign on.

Installing from the Desktop CD

Kubuntu has the ability to install directly from the desktop CD, so there is no need to download separate CDs; simply download the desktop CD and show off to your friends how great Kubuntu is, or give it a test run for the first time. The live installer program for both Ubuntu and Kubuntu is called Ubiquity.

After you start up the desktop CD, live cd will boot and prompt you to select “Try Kubuntu” or “Install Kubuntu.”

Selecting “Try Kubuntu” will boot the desktop environment and allow you to test Kubuntu before installing. Selecting “Install Kubuntu” will launch the installer, and Ubiquity will guide you through the installation phase (Figure 8-1).

Figure 8-1 Welcome screen of Ubiquity


Ubiquity guides you in setting up your disk partition(s) (Figure 8-2).

Figure 8-2 Configuring the disk partitions


Once you have your disk partions, Ubiquity will promt you to set up your current time zone (Figure 8-3). After setting up your time zone the next prompt from Ubiquity will be for you to select the correct keyboard layout (Figure 8-4), followed by creating a username and password (Figure 8-5).

Figure 8-3 Selecting the current time zone


Figure 8-4 Selecting the keyboard layout


Figure 8-5 Configuring the username and computer name


When everything is all set, click Install to finish the installation (Figure 8-6).

Figure 8-6 Finishing the installation


Navigating in Kubuntu

All of the applications in Kubuntu can be accessed through the Application Launcher (Figure 8-7), which is located in the bottom left corner of the Task Manager.

Figure 8-7 KDE4 Application Launcher


An additional change to the Application Launcher in Kubuntu is how applications are named. Instead of program names (familiar to those who have previously used some version of Kubuntu) such as Konqueror, Akregator, and Kontact, the applications are named after their purpose. For example, Akregator shows up as RSS Feed Reader, and Konqueror shows up as Web Browser.

Once you click on the Application Launcher, you are presented first with Favorites, which is a list designed for applications that are used regularly. You can add any application to the Favorites at any time. Kubuntu 11.04 ships with Web Browser, Personal Information Manager, System Settings, File Manager, Instant Messenger, and Audio Player already listed in the Favorites section. To remove an application from the Favorites portion of the Application Launcher, right-click on the application and select Remove from Favorites. Likewise, to add an application to the Favorites section, right-click on the application you would like to add and select Add to Favorites.

After the Favorites tab is the Applications portion of the Application Launcher. These applications are organized according to type of program. For example, Instant Messenger (Kopete) is located under the Internet section, while CD & DVD Burning (K3B) is located under the Multimedia section.

The third tab is the Computer tab. This tab provides quick access to different folders within the file system, including the home directory network folders and the CD-ROM drive. The Computer section is divided into Applications (System Settings), Places (Home, Network, Root, Trash), and Removable Storage (Floppy Drive, CD-ROM, and any USB drives).

The fourth tab is the Recently Used section, which is populated by both applications and documents that have recently been used.

One of the best features of the new Application Launcher is the Search Bar at the top of the page (Figure 8-8). The search program searches both menus in the Application Launcher and the Web for information.

Figure 8-8 Using the Search portion of the Application Launcher


Shutting Down Your Computer and Logging Out

To shut down your computer, log out, or switch users, go to the Application Launcher, and under the tab labeled Leave, select the option you would like. This section is divided into two subsections: Session and System. Since Kubuntu is a multiuser system (many users per system), you can easily switch to a parallel session as a different user under the Session subsection. Also under Session, you can Lock the Screen or Logout (ending the current session). Under the System subsection, you can either shut down (Turn off the computer) or restart (Restart the computer). Figure 8-9 shows these options. Also, you can lock the session or Logout by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting the correct option.

Figure 8-9 Logging out of Kubuntu


Using sudo Instead of a Root Account

A large change for many seasoned users of other Linux distributions is the lack of a root account. Upon installation, you are not prompted to create a root password. The password created with the first user, your password, will allow you to access the administrative functions. You will need the sudo password often when configuring the system or making global changes; it is the same password as your user account.

Customizing Kubuntu

A major feature of Kubuntu is the ability to customize almost anything and everything in the system. If you don’t like the desktop background, change it. If you would like to remove the new Application Launcher and go back to the old Kmenu style, you can do that. Customizing Kubuntu to fit your personal preference is almost effortless.

Customizing Plasma

Continued improvements in KDE 4 have been made to Plasma, the replacement for Kdesktop. A great amount of customization can be done with Plasma, including the addition or subtraction of widgets. From the Plasma Web page (, Plasma is defined as “the component that is ‘in charge’ of the desktop interface; the desktop, panel (often referred to simply as the task bar), and related elements.”

Widgets allow you to add and remove items from your desktop. A widget can be something from the Application Launcher, for example, or a clock showing a different time zone. Widgets can be added to the desktop only if the Plasma is unlocked by clicking on the Plasma icon on the top left and selecting Unlock Widgets. The default Kubuntu desktop has two widgets enabled, Microblog, and Folderview. The microblog widget allows you to connect to either or twitter. Folderview provides a view into a local folder, by default setup to look at one’s Desktop folder.

To add widgets, either right-click on the desktop and select Add Widgets or click on the Plasma Toolbox located in the top right-hand corner of the desktop (Figure 8-10).

Figure 8-10 Adding Widgets via the Plasma toolkit


Additional widgets are available through the extragears package (installed via Software Management) and also on under the Widgets section. In fact, in KDE 4, the Application Launcher and Task Manager are both widgets that can be added or removed for complete customization. If the old Kmenu is more your style, remove the Application Launcher widget and replace it with the Application Launcher Menu.

To change the background on the desktop, right-click on the desktop and select Desktop Activity Settings. This opens up the Desktop Settings > Plasma Workspace where you can change the Wallpaper, Activity, and Mouse Actions. New wallpaper can be added through Get Hot New Stuff.

In KDE 4.4, Plasma supports different types of activities; by default, the type is set for Desktop. Another activity type could be Folder View, which holds the contents of a specific folder. Two activity types that make up the Netbook view are the Newspaper layout and Search and Launch activity.


For more information on Kubuntu Netbook Remix, please refer to Help > Netbook > System Documentation.

Choosing how the desktop looks can help give a personalized feel to Kubuntu. If the appearance seems lacking, you can make changes by choosing System Settings > Appearance. You can further customize things, such as color, icons, and style. Kubuntu is all about customization, something you may be sick of hearing about, and there are many ways to change the desktop’s appearance, which almost guarantees that no two users will have identical desktops.

Get Hot New Stuff

Looking for the latest screen saver, desktop background, or other cool things for your Kubuntu installation? Kubuntu fully supports the Get Hot New Stuff (GHNS) framework of KDE. GHNS allows people to upload templates to a server and have other users download and use that template. In an interview posted on KDE News (, Josef Spillner describes exactly how the process works.

[U]ser A is using a spreadsheet application and modifies a template that comes with it. This template can then be uploaded to a server and eventually be downloaded by user B by checking the contents of the “Get Hot New Stuff” download dialogue.

The GHNS framework (Figure 8-11) shows up in several places throughout Kubuntu.

Figure 8-11 The GHNS framework at work


Different applications have the ability to download information from the Internet and from KDE sites. Throughout applications in Kubuntu, you will find references to Get More, which uses the GHNS framework.

System Administration

Like any computer application or system, Kubuntu occasionally needs administrative support. Do not be afraid of personally administrating your Kubuntu system. While system administration is not completely foolproof, a lot of changes have been made to help make administration easier. Knowledge of command line will go a long way, but the developers have made sure to provide graphical interfaces wherever it makes sense to do so. Everything from changing the IP address (e.g., from DHCP to a static address) to installing packages can be done without having to drop down to the command line. This section focuses exclusively on system administration performed through the graphical interface.

Installing New Packages

As mentioned earlier, Kubuntu is built around some of the same applications and systems as Ubuntu. All applications are installed through packages. Like Ubuntu, Kubuntu uses the Advanced Package Tool (APT), and also like Ubuntu, Kubuntu has a wonderful graphical interface. Kubuntu’s graphical installer is called KPackageKit, referred to as Software Management throughout the rest of the chapter.

In previous versions of Kubuntu, Adept software was used to install and update packages; however, this application was no longer being developed and also was not updated for KDE 4. The developers of Kubuntu switched to Software Management, and many improvements to the application were made during the release cycle. The developers of Software Management and the Kubuntu developers worked together to make sure this application was up to the quality that Kubuntu users expect.

Software Management is found in the Application Launcher under Applications > System > Software Management and can also be launched through Krunner as Software Management.

Upon launching Software Management, you are presented with the Software Management application (Figure 8-12).

Figure 8-12 Software Management


Three options are available in Software Management: Add and Remove Software (through the Software Management section), Software Updates, and Settings.

In order to add a new piece of software, type the name of the application in the search bar. The screenshots in Figures 8-13 and 8-14 show searching for a chess game and then selecting it for installation.

Figure 8-13 Searching for a chess game


Figure 8-14 Selecting 3dchess for installation


Once you click on the application to install, more details about the package are displayed, including the description of the package, the file list, other packages that depend on this package, as well as the other packages required by this package. This information allows you to understand what files are being installed and to make sure the correct packages are being downloaded and installed so the application works properly.

To install the application, click on the “+” (plus sign).

This will queue the package to be installed; click on Apply to set up the application on the system. Unlike Microsoft Windows, Kubuntu is great about not forcing a system restart in order for the new application to work correctly.


A restart could be required if the version of KDE or the kernel is changed, but it is not necessary for the more typical and common update.

Managing Repositories

The Software Management application has the ability to manage the repositories you would like to use. To change which repositories are being used, open Software Management and select settings and the select “Edit Software Sources.” After you provide the correct password, a new window will open up (see Figure 8-15).

Figure 8-15 Software Source lists


Software Sources is divided into five sections: Kubuntu Software, Other Software, Updates, Authentication, and Statistics.

Packages are organized into four groups or repositories: main, restricted, universe, and multiverse. The main repository contains applications that are free software, programs that allow for complete distribution and are supported by the Kubuntu team. When you install something from the main repository, you are guaranteed to receive security updates and support through the various venues.

Anything from the multiverse repository contains software that is not free, which is defined by the Kubuntu Main Component License Policy. Software here is used at the user’s own risk.

Third-party software is not supported by Kubuntu.

Upgrading Kubuntu

If you are currently using Kubuntu 10.10 and would like to upgrade to Kubuntu 11.04, you can use the update manager to install the new version. There is no need to purchase new software or reload your system; just update from the current version to the latest stable release. From the console, type sudo do-release-upgrade and watch your system upgrade from Kubuntu 10.10 to Kubuntu 11.04.

How to Keep the System Up to Date

Kubuntu will check to see if your system is up to date. Software Management will notify you in the task bar and prompt you to update your system.

In the Settings portion of Software Management, you can change how often the system checks for updates (by default, it is every week). Another setting that can change is whether or not the system will automatically install the updates or prompt you for your updates.

System Settings

System Settings allows users to make changes to the system, including settings for sound, user accounts, mouse behavior, and network configuration. If you are familiar with KDE, you may recognize that System Settings replaces the K Control Center. Figure 8-16 shows System Settings.

Figure 8-16 System Settings


System Settings can be found in the Application Launcher, or type System Settings in the search bar of the launcher, or in KRunner. (KRunner is accessed by either right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Run Application or by hitting ALT-F2.) When making changes in System Settings, you will be prompted at times to enter your password. Changes made that require a password are systemwide and will affect all users of the Kubuntu system.

When moving through the different options, be sure to select Overview to return to the main screen of System Settings instead of clicking on the X. Doing so may take some getting used to.

Common Appearance and Behavior

The Common Appearance and Behavior deals with system defaults, from language to shortcuts. If you are located outside of the United States and need to change settings, such as currency, date, and language, they can all be configured here through the Country/Region & Language option.

Workspace Appearance and Behavior

This section of System Settings deals with the Appearance of your environment. Is your system running too slow with all of the Desktop Effects enabled? Turn them off here. Have a really sweet system and you want to make your windows explode as they close? Turn that on in this section. Also in Workspace Appearance and Behavior you can customize the default applications your system uses.

This section also allows for customization of Strigi or Desktop Search. “Akonadi is a cross-desktop storage service for Personal Information Manager data (calendars, contacts, email, etc.) and also for the metadata” (http://pim.kde.or/akonadi for more information). Nepomuk can work together with Akonadi and helps you organize the information and metadata on your machine. (For more information, see Another portion of Nepomuk is Desktop Search which provides the ability to search for files and applications on your system. These two applications can be configured through System Settings.

Network and Connectivity

This section of Systems Settings deals with Networking and allows you to customize how networking works. An example of something that can be customized is if you need to access a proxy to connect to the Internet, this can be configured globally.


This section of System Settings may have the most options in it. The Hardware section allows you to configure how Hardware interacts with your system. Printer configuration is where users add or make changes to printers. Most printers these days already have drivers available in Kubuntu, and upon detecting a new printer for the first time, the printer configuration wizard will start. The following screenshots show this wizard (Figures 8-17 and 8-18).

Figure 8-17 Printer Configuration—System Settings


Figure 8-18 New Printer


It used to be quite painful to configure multiple monitors but this is no longer the case. When a secondary display is connected to a device (example being a laptop connected to a projector) the Display portion of Hardware will help you customize items like size and orientation if not detected correctly.

The final section of System Settings deals with administration of your Kubuntu environment.

Login Manager

When you launch this module, you will be prompted for your administrative password. The Login Manager is where your username and password is typed in, and it allows you to log in. In this section, you can customize exactly what happens and how it looks when you log in (Figure 8-19).

Figure 8-19 Login Manager


One of the items that can be configured is the Auto-login. This is NOT RECOMMENDED because anyone will have access to your machine as soon as it is powered on. Select the user you would like to Auto-login and select Apply.

User Management

The User Management module allows you create new users and even change access rights. To create a new user, click on New and follow the wizard (Figures 8-20 and 8-21).

Figure 8-20 User Management


Figure 8-21 Create a new user


Managing Files with Kubuntu

Now that you have your system installed and set up the way you would like, it is time to learn how to navigate the different files and access information in Kubuntu. This starts with the default file manager, Dolphin. Konqueror, another application that can be used both as a Web browser and a file manager, is discussed later in the chapter.

Introduction to Dolphin

Dolphin was first introduced during the 7.10 release schedule as d3lphin. The KDE 4 version, Dolphin, is now included as the default file manager (see Figure 8-22).

Figure 8-22 Viewing the Home Directory in Dolphin


Dolphin is a very powerful file manager that nicely complements Konqueror. The two programs are often used in tandem.

Dolphin focuses only on local files, is built on the Konqueror back end, and should be familiar to many KDE users. Konqueror, which is also the KDE Web browser, was the previous default file manager. Over time, Konqueror development focused increasingly on the Web browser, while ignoring its file manager functionality.

Another key feature of Dolphin is the ability to use a split view to have multiple directories open in the same window, without having to switch tabs.

Changes to the File Structure

Kubuntu 11.04 release utilizes the XDG Base Directory Specification of the standards.

XDG directories specify a default set of folders within a user’s home directory. Some of these folders are Desktop, Downloads, Templates, Music, and Video. The goal is to help create a standard location for files to be stored in a variety of different desktop environments (see Figure 8-23).

Figure 8-23 Viewing XDG directories in Dolphin


Introduction to Konqueror

Konqueror may be the old default file manager in Kubuntu, but it still has a lot to offer. As a file manager, Konqueror can do nearly everything you need (Figure 8-24). You can browse files through either an icon view or a tree view. Copying, pasting, moving, and deleting files are all simple tasks with Konqueror. A nice feature of Konqueror is that directories are automatically updated. This means that if a file is created in a directory currently being viewed, you do not need to refresh the directory to see the changes.

Figure 8-24 Konqueror


One of the great things about Konqueror is how much you can do within it. Need access to media files? Simply type media:/ and browse your media files. All kinds of other shortcuts, called kioslaves, exist in Konqueror, including ones for searching the Web with Google (gg:/KEYWORD) and even browsing files via ssh through sftp://. Need help finding a file on your system? Simply use locate:/ to have Konqueror find it for you. You can visit the different system folders through system:/. Many shortcuts and keywords like this are built into Konqueror, including Google Suggest in the search bar.

Accessing Windows Partitions

A lot of people still have Windows partitions on their hard drives and would like to access the information stored there. Kubuntu can browse these files in read-only mode. By default, Kubuntu mounts the Windows partition in the /media directory. See Figure 8-25 for an example of accessing the Windows drive in Dolphin.

Figure 8-25 Accessing the Windows partition in Dolphin


Accessing USB Drives

USB drives are everywhere these days, and Kubuntu handles them quite easily. Simply connect your USB drive, and it will mount automatically. It will then be available under Dolphin through the media folder. Before removing the drive, make sure you unmount it by right-clicking on the device and selecting Eject. The device can then be safely removed.

Managing Music

Amarok is the default application for browsing and managing your music collection. Kubuntu 11.04 includes Amarok 2, which is a large rewrite of Amarok. Amarok is a powerful program that can track your podcasts and music and even provides access to an open music store (Magnatune). Magnatune is a music store that is completely free of DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions. Looking for Online Radio stations? Amarok provides access to multiple online radio stations through Cool Streams and also Shoutcast Streams. Amarok can also manage your portable music player (Figure 8-26). Once you have connected your music player, it will show up in the device section. Then feel free to manage your files and playlists.

Figure 8-26 Managing your music player in Amarok


The first time Amarok is launched, it recommends installing additional multimedia packages from the restricted repository. The recommended packages are for MP3 Tag Reading and Encoding, Flash, Video Codecs, MPEG Plug-ins, and DVD Reading. A notification from Update Notifier will load in the Taskbar, and after double-clicking, you will be prompted to select which components to install. To install these packages, you need the administrative password. See Chapter 3’s discussion of Ubuntu Multimedia for more information about media codecs and related issues.

Common Applications

Kubuntu comes with a large number of applications preinstalled and configured, including Web browsers, office applications, and e-mail programs. Remember, since choice is a huge feature of Kubuntu, if you do not like the default applications, you can always change them. All of these applications are available through the Application Launcher.


The default office application for Kubuntu 11.04 is LibreOffice 3.3.1. LibreOffice Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, and Math; the first three can be launched from the Application Launcher. (Draw and Math are not available from the menu and are launched from within one of the other applications.) Note that the developers of Kubuntu have renamed the applications in the Application Launcher to better reflect what each does. For example, Writer is renamed Word Processor.

Each of these programs is easy to use and can help you switch from the Microsoft Office product line. In fact, the LibreOffice suite is included in the desktop CD and can be installed on a Windows system to help you get comfortable and ready for a switch to Kubuntu. Each application corresponds to a similar application in the Microsoft product line. Calc is very similar to Excel, Writer works like Word, and Impress replaces PowerPoint. LibreOffice can handle all but Microsoft Access files without problems, and the whole suite is ready to be used in a corporate environment as well as for personal use.

To demonstrate the power of LibreOffice, let’s create a new document. To start LibreOffice Writer, open the Application Launcher and navigate to Office and then Word Processor. You can also launch KRunner (Alt+F2), type Word processor, and hit Enter.

Writer resembles any other word processing software you have used. Simply start typing your letter or paper as you normally would, and use the toolbar for formatting options, including changing alignment, setting boldface or italic type, and other needs.

When you are done working on a document, save it by selecting File > Save or by typing Ctrl-S. LibreOffice saves documents in the Open Document format. This file format is a standard across the world. You can also save documents in other formats, including Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF. To save as a PDF file, just click the PDF button on the main toolbar (located next to the print icon) and enter a filename.

Web Browsing with Rekonq

The default web browser in Kubuntu 11.04 is rekonq. As a Web browser, rekonq enables you to set bookmarks, change your home page, and use all the other features you would expect from a Web browser.

Navigating around the Internet is no different in rekonq than in any other Web browser, including Firefox, Opera, Netscape, and Internet Explorer. Just type the Web address into the address bar and hit Enter. For example, type in to visit the home page for Kubuntu.

To search using Google, simply move to the search bar, and directly to the right of the address bar type in what you are looking for. Rekonqwill use Google to find it for you.

Using Firefox for Browsing the Web

Allowing choice is a key feature of Ubuntu distributions. Kubuntu can use the latest version of Firefox, which can be installed via the Mozilla Firefox Installer (Figure 8-27).

Figure 8-27 Mozilla Firefox installer


Firefox has taken the Web browser world by storm and is as good as or even better than Internet Explorer. Firefox not only provides better features and a better browsing experience but also adheres more closely to Web standards. Like Konqueror, Firefox includes tab browsing (File > New Tab or Ctrl+T), bookmarks, and everything you would expect of a modern Web browser.

Firefox has many different extensions that can be plugged in to allow greater flexibility for your Web browser. The most common plug-ins are for using Macromedia Flash and Java, which some Web pages require.

Installing a plug-in is as simple as visiting a Web site that requires it. A yellow bar will indicate that you are missing a plug-in. Click on the Install Missing Plug-ins button to install the required plug-in.

Burning CDs—Audio and Data

Another common task is creating or burning audio and data CDs. Kubuntu’s default CD creation program, K3b (installed through Software Management), is a very easy-to-use utility that can help you create backup CDs or even new music CDs. K3b provides a very familiar interface for burning and copying CDs (Figure 8-28).

Figure 8-28 K3b


Simply click on one of the icons from the main Kreator screen that describes the project you would like to create, for example, a new audio CD, a new data CD, or a new data DVD project. You can even copy a CD. After the new project has been started, simply drag the files you want from the top section to the lower section (Figure 8-29).

Figure 8-29 Just drag and drop the files.


Once you have moved the files, select Burn, and sit back while your new CD is created.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is another feature that we almost cannot live without these days. Kopete, Kubuntu’s default instant messaging client, handles this task very well. You can find it under the Internet section in the Application Launcher. You can also launch Kopete from KRunner or the Search bar of the Application Launcher by typing Kopete. The beauty of Kopete is that it can connect to all of the major service providers, so you do not have to have multiple programs open. Kopete can handle ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and because Google Talk (Google’s instant messenger program) is built around the Jabber protocol, Kopete can handle that as well. Kopete also can work with MSN Webcams.

In order to use Kopete, you need to configure accounts. Select Settings > Accounts, and then configure the different accounts you would like Kopete to use. Kopete can save your passwords to these accounts and even automatically connect upon start-up.

Once the accounts are configured correctly, you can change Kopete’s behavior to fit your preferences. Many options can be selected, including away settings, what happens when a new message arrives, and even how the system starts up.

Internet Relay Chat

A great place to find support for Kubuntu is Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which can be accessed by using Quassel (Figure 8-30) and the different IRC channels. Join and then come over to #kubuntu to get many of your support questions answered. Quassel by default is set up to access #kubuntu, but more channels can be added. The people in #kubuntu are full of great information and can help you try to solve any issues that you have.

Figure 8-30 Quassel


To launch Quassel, type either Quassel or IRC in the Application Launcher and click on the application.


These days almost everyone uses e-mail, and almost everyone uses some form of calendar program to keep track of appointments and schedules. Kontact, Kubuntu’s default PIM (Personal Information Manager), takes care of all these tasks plus more.

To start Kontact, go to the Application Launcher and then to the Internet section. You can also start it from KRunner or by typing Kontact in the Search Bar of the Application Launcher. Figure 8-31 shows an example of the Kontact window.

Figure 8-31 Kontact


Looking at the figure, you can see that Kontact has a lot of different features. We cover several of the program’s options in the following subsections.

KMail is the program that handles e-mail. It can be run separately from Kontact if you choose. The first step in configuring Kontact is to set up KMail to send and receive e-mail.

Setting Up Your E-Mail Account

You will need several pieces of information to set up KMail. Your ISP or system administrator should be able to provide these details.

• Type of e-mail server (such as POP or IMAP)

• Mail server name (such as

• Mail account’s username and password

• Authentication type (typically password)

• Outgoing mail server name

Configuring Kontact is easier than it may look. Once Kontact is open, select Settings and then Configuring Kontact. From the Configure Kontact panel, select Mail followed by Accounts. Under the tab labeled Receiving, add the information provided from your ISP as the incoming mail information. Once that account has been created, add a new account under the Sending tab that matches the outgoing mail information provided by your ISP.

Using KOrganizer

KOrganizer is included with Kontact. It will track your schedule and provide reminders of your appointments. Upon switching Kontact to calendar mode, you will see a month view on the left and individual days on the right, as Figure 8-32 shows.

Figure 8-32 KOrganizer, Kontact’s calendar mode


You can set up two different types of events in Kontact:

Meetings: events scheduled with different people

Appointments: general events

It is easy to add a new meeting or appointment. Find the date for the event in the month view, right-click, and select New Event. In the new window that opens, fill out the Summary, Location, Time, and Description boxes. You can also set up Kontact to remind you when it is time for the appointment.

Using Akregator

Another great application that is part of Kontact (or can be used separately) is Akregator (Figure 8-33), an RSS program that can track your favorite Web feeds. Due to the integration of Akregator and Konqueror, any Web page that has an RSS feed will have an orange icon in the corner of the program that helps you add it to your list.

Figure 8-33 Akregator


Simply click on the icon and select Add to Akregator. Akregator will keep your feeds up to date by automatically checking for new content. Another bonus of the integration between Konqueror and Akregator is that Web pages can be opened within Akregator to post comments and view more information than what is provided by the Web feed.

As you can see, Kontact is a great program that helps you organize your life, track your favorite Web sites through RSS, and handle your e-mail.

Kiosk Mode

Kiosk mode allows an administrator to configure KDE and all aspects of the desktop and prevent the end user from changing the settings.

KDE stores all of its configuration information in text files. These files control everything from the default background to whether or not a person can add bookmarks. To see the locations of the configuration files, simply type kde-config –path confi from the Konsole. Note that the order applied is the reverse order of what is displayed. By simply changing one of the files in the highest priority, the last listed in the kde-config statement, you can affect what all users see.

To change the background for all users, simply edit the Wallpaper section found in kdesktoprc, located in /usr/share/kubuntu-default-settings/kde-profile/default/share/config.

As previously discussed, each user can change the desktop to meet his or her own needs. However, an administrator can make it so some things cannot be changed. Simply insert [$i] at the top of the file for each application you would like to make immutable.

Along with enabling or setting changes, an administrator can remove user access to certain items by simply editing the kde globals file and adding a [KDE Action Restrictions] [$1] section.

There are plenty of additional items that can be limited and changed in Kubuntu.

Exploring the Kubuntu Landscape

Unlike many other operating systems, Kubuntu includes a large number of applications installed by default. These tools have been selected to allow you to install Kubuntu and then just get your work done. Some of the applications installed by default have been covered already. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), there are too many applications to discuss in this book due to space restrictions.

To partially solve that problem, here is a quick summary of many programs that are available from the Application Launcher, including how to find them and brief descriptions.

Kate: Application Launcher > Utilities > Kate—This simple and powerful text editor is great for editing documents, making quick notes, and programming. There is a vast range of plug-ins for items such as spell checking, statistics, and syntax highlighting.

Calculator (Speedcrunch): Application Launcher > Utilities > Calculator—Speedcrunch is an extremely powerful calculator that can help you solve both basic and advanced math problems.

Konsole: Application Launcher > Utilities > Konsole—Beneath the desktop is a very powerful command-line core. Konsole allows you to access this command line by putting a nice window frame around it. Konsole is great for command-line junkies who do most of their other work with a graphical interface. Konsole can be completely customized to meet your command-line needs.

Performance Monitor (KSysGuard): Application Launcher > System > Performance Monitor—The Performance Monitor provides information about how your Kubuntu system is functioning. Having problems with an application taking too much memory? How would you know? KSysGuard provides this information.

System Logs Viewer (KSystemLog): Application Launcher > System > System Logs Viewer—Interested in what is going on with your system? Kubuntu keeps track of files and access logs that can be viewed through this program.

Internet Dial-Up Tool (KPPP): Application Launcher > Internet > Internet Dial-Up Tool—Need help connecting to your ISP through a modem? KPPP will help take care of this. KPPP can help set up your modem and even set up your dial-up connection.

Remote Desktop Connection (KRDC): Application Launcher > Internet > Remote Desktop Connection—KRDC can help you connect to remote systems either through the remote desktop protocol (RDP) or through virtual network connection (VNC). Simply type in the address and click on Connect. KRDC can save the settings for each computer you connect to.

PDF Viewer (Okular): Application Launcher > Graphics > PDF Viewer—KPDF provides you with the ability to open and view files saved in the Adobe PDF format.

Screen Capture Program (KSnapShot): Application Launcher > Graphics > Screen Capture Program—KSnapShot allows you to take screenshots and save them in different formats. The great thing about KSnapShot is that you specify the exact amount of the screen that will be captured. This program was used to take all of the screenshots for this chapter.

Image Viewer (Gwenview): Application Launcher > Graphics > Image Viewer—Gwenview is the default application for viewing images in Kubuntu. All different types of images can be opened, including .png, .jpeg, and .bmp.

KDevelop: Application Launcher > Development > KDevelop—While not installed by default, KDevelop is a wonderful integrated development environment (IDE) that can help you with your coding projects. This application must be installed via Software Management.

Marble: Application Launcher > Education > Misc > Marble—Marble is a 3D mapping and globe application. Additional map information is available through GHNS.

KRandRtray: Application Launcher > System > Screen Size and Rotate—This application is used to rotate and resize the monitor. It also detects and configures external monitors.

Tips and Tricks

The more you use Kubuntu, the more tips and tricks you will learn to help make your computer experience better and easier. Kubuntu can be configured to do almost anything you would like.

Run Programs Automatically When Kubuntu Starts

You might like to start some programs automatically every time you log in to your system. For example, to help you with your Kubuntu work, you might want to access various channels of IRC every day via Konversation. There are four easy steps to set this up using the session management feature of KDE.

1. Launch all the applications you would like to open automatically.

2. Open up System Settings from the Application Launcher, and click on the User Management section.

3. Click on the Session Manager button on the left, and make sure that the Restore Manually Saved Session checkbox is enabled.

4. Log out, saving your sessions.

Automatically Turn On Numlock When Kubuntu Starts

If you are sick of always having to turn on numlock, the change is very simple to make.

1. Open up System Settings from the Application Launcher, and select Keyboard & Mouse.

2. Under the Numlock on KDE Startup, enable the Turn On checkbox.

3. Click on Apply to save your settings.

4. Turn on the Location Bar in Dolphin.

5. By default there is no location bar in Dolphin. To enable this to View > Location Bar and click on either option (or just use Control + L to enable it.

Finding Help and Giving Back to the Community

Finding Help

Kubuntu provides a lot of ways to find the information you need to solve a problem. A great place to start is on the IRC channel #kubuntu, which, as we noted earlier, can be accessed through Konversation. There are always wonderful and knowledgeable people in this channel who can answer almost any question. If you prefer to use the Web for answers, the Kubuntu wiki, found at, has a large amount of information loosely organized with a great search function built in. A third place to find information is the Kubuntu forums at Google is also a great resource. Chances are that someone else has come across your problem before and has written a solution to the issue.

Giving Back to the Community

Kubuntu is built around a great community of people who give back what they learn. There are many ways to get involved and share your love of Kubuntu. A great place to find out how you can make a difference is at Not everyone involved has to know how to create packages, understand how the kernel works, or be a great programmer. Kubuntu also has a place for people to write wiki pages or help with documentation, participate in user advocacy, and give general feedback.


Kubuntu is a great part of the Ubuntu project and is quickly maturing. From its start as the idea of a single developer to many people working together, Kubuntu is becoming the KDE distribution of choice. However, there is still room for improvement and additions to the setup. A large community of people discuss every day, either through IRC or e-mail, ways to make these improvements. Bugs and other issues are quickly resolved without the additional cost of new programs.

Kubuntu is going to be around for the long haul, and each new release delivers a better, cleaner, and more polished OS. Help spread the word about the project, and get involved by helping out.