I have decided to try running KDE for a while again, after maybe more than a year since I’ve ran it as primary desktop last time. I was usually switching back and forth between GNOME and Xfce, prefering GTK apps over anything else.
However, I am lately getting convinced that KDE is indeed superior regarding functional configurability. KDE applications are like swiss army knifes. Just look at konqueror, and it’s not the only one. Another app I found irresistible is KNemo, an easy yet powerful network monitor which will notify you when there is a new network connection, measure traffic and save it up even after connections get broke. Exactly what I need!
The biggest disadvantage of KDE was, however, that it looked kinda klunky and it isn’t as easy to change its looks as with GNOME and Xfce where installing a theme is a matter of dragging and dropping. In KDE you still have to compile or hope someone already compiled it for you so there is a quite limited amount of easily installable themes.
So…. about this screenshot. I was lucky to have klearlook in Debian repositories as well as a few alternative icon themes, so that was easy to install. The icon theme on the screenshot is NuoveXT (installed via synaptic) and the theme used is slightly customized (reconfigured) lipstik with a klearlook colors. You can use a full klearlook theme as well, but lipstik combined with klearlook colors looked cleaner within KDE while still being quite sufficiently similar looking to GTK apps. On the screenshot you have thunar and konqueror open, so you can judge for yourself.
I have installed a qt-gtk engine and set GTK apps to use clearlooks theme. In xfce I also set the NuoveXT icon theme and then run the xfce-mcs-manager to load this setting along KDE, so that when I use Xfce/GTK apps in KDE, they use the same icon theme and pretty much the same looks.
I think this is what you call a unified desktop. I have the power of KDE combined with the looks I usually have in GTK. Just awesome.
Now we’ll see if any specifics of KDE get me back to using Xfce (like memory issues, although surprisingly, KDE is quite fast on Debian Sid), but for now I’m quite happy to work in this environment.
If you need help with getting your desktop to look a bit like this, feel free to ask.