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What is KDE?

The KDE Community is an international technology team dedicated to creating a free and user-friendly computing experience, offering an advanced graphical desktop, a wide variety of applications for communication, work, education and entertainment and a platform to easily build new applications upon. We have a strong focus on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, creating a vibrant atmosphere open for experimentation.

KDE's software in Debian

Plasma by KDE is one of the DesktopEnvironment options in the DebianDesktopHowTo.

You can find information about KDE's software in Debian from the Debian Qt/KDE maintainers website.


There are different options to install the KDE Plasma Desktop in Debian:

How to install


KDE (Full release of workspace, applications and framework)

kde-full package

The standard/upstream release

KDE (A common set of packages for a smaller, more flexible KDE environment compared to kde-full)

kde-standard package

Debian's selection of common KDE packages

KDE Plasma Desktop

kde-plasma-desktop package

Minimal desktop. Above packages depend on this.

KDE Plasma Task

task-kde-desktop package

Debian's selection of applications for a KDE desktop
This is what is installed on a freshly installed KDE system.
It includes a few non-KDE applications: firefox, gimp, orca

Installing the "KDE Plasma Desktop" task

You can install KDE Plasma and its default set of applications in Debian, even after the initial system installation, by installing the KDE Plasma Desktop "task". This means installing the task-kde-desktop package.

In this case, the "task" is a metapackage that contains no files of its own, but it depends on all of the relevant KDE packages. Installing it will consequentially install all of those.

If you'd like to later uninstall everything it added, you can remove the task-kde-desktop package you installed, and run the apt autoremove command. This command removes all packages on your system that weren't manually installed, and aren't a dependency of any other package. This will, in our case, remove all of the packages that were brought in by task-kde-desktop, as it no longer depends on them.

Using self-built (parts) of KDE Frameworks 5, Plasma 5, KDE Applications

See Using self-built (parts) of KDE Frameworks 5, Plasma 5, KDE Applications.

Making GNOME/GTK applications look natural

Applications built using GTK, often Gnome applications, may look unfitting in KDE Plasma as they use different GUI toolkits. To smooth over the differences, KDE's default Breeze theme also has a GTK version which can be added by installing the breeze-gtk-theme package.

To set the GTK theme that's used, install the kde-config-gtk-style and kde-config-gtk-style-preview packages. After installation, you can find the section to configure GTK themes in the Application Style section of your system settings application. This may appear either as a tab, or as a button labelled "Configure GNOME/GTK Application Style..." You'll likely want to set both the GTK2 and GTK3 theme to Breeze or Breeze-Dark.

Troubleshooting and tips

Performance/Rendering issues

If you're having issues with performance or rendering bugs, you may look for the Compositor section of your system settings. Performance and stability can often be improved, especially on NVIDIA cards using the proprietary driver, by changing the "Rendering backend" to XRender. This will disable some desktop effects.

On extremely low-end systems, you can use the Alt-Shift-F12 keyboard shortcut to disable the compositor completely. This disables all effects and may introduce screen-tearing, but is much faster on older or cheaper systems. In the relevant section of your settings, there is also a checkbox to not enable the compositor on startup, automating this process on future boots.

Clashing With GNOME (GTK)

If you are experiencing issues in gnome (or any other GTK DE) that are likely to have been caused by KDE, such as dark themes not applying text, or other elements, causing some of the system to be unusable, you might wanna try the next solution: >>> edit ./config/gtk-3-.0/gtk.css >>> "sudo nano ./config/gtk-3-.0/gtk.css" >>> then, comment the line "@ import 'colors.css'" by replacing it with: "# @ import 'colors.css'"

Ugly login screen

The default Debian theme for SDDM, KDE's display manager/login screen, may seem a little antiquated. You can install the kde-config-sddm and sddm-theme-debian-breeze packages to add the more modern Breeze theme for SDDM, which you can then set it to use in the Login Screen (SDDM) section of your system settings. This will use the default KDE wallpaper by default, however you can set a custom background in this screen as well.

Double-click to open files and folders

By default on Debian, KDE uses a single-click to open files and folders. This is useful on tablets and other touchscreen devices but may be undesirable on desktops. On older versions of KDE Plasma, the setting for this can be found with the rest of your mouse settings (where you configure acceleration, speed, etc.) On newer versions, this can be found in the General Behavior section of your settings.

Wayland, touchscreens, autorotation, hi-DPI

Plasma's Wayland session, along with the option to sign into it on your login screen, can be added with the plasma-workspace-wayland package. Compared to KDE on Xorg, Wayland has much better support for touchscreens (including an on-screen keyboard that automatically comes up when selecting a text field), autorotation on tablets, and automatic configuration support for hi-DPI monitors, even on complex multi-monitor setups with different resolutions.

Wayland support is still not finished yet though. Notably, there are still various issues and missing features with the clipboard, drag-and-drop, window thumbnails, Plasma activities, multiple keyboard layouts, screenshots, and drawing tablets. A full and more regularly-updated list of Plasma Wayland issues can be found here:

Plasma Wayland should work out-of-the-box on Intel GPUs, AMD GPUs using the radeon or amdgpu driver, and Mali GPUs using the panfrost driver. NVIDIA GPUs using the proprietary driver require a much more complicated set of steps, and not all the pieces have landed in Debian quite yet. You can find the current state of Plasma Wayland support for the NVIDIA proprietary drivers here:

Drawing tablets

A section in the system settings for configuring drawing tablets, along with a system tray applet for quickly changing settings, can be added by installing the kde-config-tablet package. If your tablet isn't automatically detected, it also includes a helper tool called "Wacom Tablet finder" to assist you in adding the proper configuration for it.

Wacom drawing tablets, by far, have the best support both in KDE and in Linux generally. Other brands may be supported to varying degrees but there is much less of a guarantee compared to Wacom which can generally be expected to completely work with no issues.

Configuring the screenlocker

The screenlocker can be configured in a similar way to SDDM by installing the kde-config-screenlocker package. This adds a new Screen Locking section to your system settings where you can configure things like the keyboard shortcut to lock the screen, the background image, the media controls, the no-password grace period after locking, and when the system should lock itself.

KDE/Breeze boot splash

For greater integration with your KDE Plasma desktop, you may also want to set your boot splash to Breeze such that it matches with the rest of your system. This process is explained in-depth, with KDE-specific notes where relevant, on the plymouth page. In short, you can add Breeze theme for Plymouth by installing the plymouth-theme-breeze package, and add a section to your system settings for setting the boot splash by installing the kde-config-plymouth package.

Color profiles and color management

The colord-kde package provides a Color Corrections section to your system settings that allows you to calibrate your display devices to use a specific color profile, either imported or from a preset list. This is especially useful for graphic artists and those that work in the print industry. This package is currently only available in Debian Experimental and as such, is only recommended for advanced users comfortable with enabling and using packages from the experimental repo. If you want to enable this repository and use this package, read DebianExperimental, which contains a long list of both warnings and instructions.

Native LibreOffice icons and theming

If the libreoffice-kde5 package is installed, it will be automatically loaded by LibreOffice when it's run in a KDE Plasma environment and fit to your system theme, along with using native Qt dialogs for opening and saving files.

If you're using the Breeze Dark theme, the icons may have poor contrast. Go to Tools > Options > LibreOffice > View > Icon style, and change the icon style to Breeze (Dark).

Reset your KDE Plasma configuration to defaults

If something has gone terribly wrong or you just want a clean slate, navigate to ~/.config in your terminal and run:

for j in plasma*; do mv -- "$j" "${j%}.bak"; done

This renames all Plasma-related configuration files to add the .bak extension to the end, making Plasma unable to find them, and forcing it to regenerate them from defaults. This is a safe way to return to your default configuration without outright deleting any files.

Show debugging information

When reporting a bug with KDE, or asking for support in the community, you may want to attach information about your environment. The easiest and most comprehensive way to do this is to run:

qdbus org.kde.KWin /KWin supportInformation

Which will print off a long list of useful support information to include in your bug report. Given the size of this output, you're recommended to upload it to and send the link instead of pasting the entire text into wherever you're requesting support.

See also

CategoryDesktopEnvironment | CategorySoftware