One of the remarkable features of KDE 4 is the extensibility. Developers or even regular users can contribute to the rich collection of artwork, software, widgets, and visual improvements. Ever so often, I look around for rather random add-ons that make my desktop experience more pleasant or occasionally even serve a meaningful purpose. They range from full applications to very basic widgets.
In no particular order, here are a few that I have recently encountered and are worth mentioning.
With my graduation less than a month away, this widget is the perfect reminder of how many projects I have to finish before I complete my courses. But the widget itself can be used for any sort of countdown: your birthday, payday, anniversary, or anything else you want to remember.
It is a simple widget, and you can install it directly within KDE’s Add Widgets dialog.
1. Right click on the desktop
2. Click “Add Widgets”
3. Click “Get New Widgets”
4. Click “Download New Plasma Widgets”
5. Find “Countdown” and click “Install”
6. Drag the countdown icon to your desktop.
Another extraordinary KDE feature is the ability to use a wide variety of desktop wallpaper plugins. Rather than having a plain image as your wallpaper, you can have a slideshow, the weather, and even an interactive map of the world.
Wallpaper Clock is an add-on that connects to vladstudio.com and allows you to install their wallpaper clocks, which show the time and date in creative ways. The wallpapers are updated in real time (pun intended), changing every minute without any flickering or noticeable repainting.
You can install wallpaper clock using the normal widget installation procedure, but the actual widget will appear in your Plasma Workspace settings.
1. Right click the desktop and click “Desktop Activity Settings”.
2. Click the dropdown menu next to the label “Type” and find “Wallpaper Clock”.
3. To install new wallpaper clocks, click “Get New Wallpapers”
4. After you have downloaded the ones you want, click “Close”
5. Select the wallpaper you desire and click “OK”.
Pulse (KWin effect)
Pulse is a visual effect for KWin (KDE’s window manager). When a window appears, it zooms in and pulses with a fading ghost image of itself. When I first tried it, I found it a little overwhelming. Every window that appeared made me a little woozy, but after I turned the settings down a little, I found the effect rather refreshing. Every time a window appears, I notice it, and the effect adds a nice bit of life to the desktop. Not everyone will be able to tolerate the flashing, but for those who want to add a little spice to their desktop, this is a good effect to accomplish that goal.
Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to install KWin effects. You will have to compile this one from source, but that only takes a couple of minutes. If you are comfortable with the Linux command line and wish to proceed, be sure to follow the standard KDE building instructions.
mkdir build cd build cmake .. make make install
There are many other useful KDE add-ons available for download, and you can install many of them from within the KDE dialogs. For all others, visit KDE-Look.org and KDE-Apps.org.
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