How to Install QtCurve in KDE

QtCurve in Rekonq (KDE4), Pidgin (GTK2), and Basket (KDE3)

In a previous MTE article, you learned how to create a unified desktop using the KDE 4 Oxygen themes for KDE, GTK, and Firefox. Oxygen is clean, simple, and visually pleasing, but some people want a little more flexibility. QtCurve is a theming system that gives you the configuring power to have varieties of themes, from downright plain to shiny eye candy.

Best of all, QtCurve has native support for KDE 4, KDE 3, GTK, Qt4, and Qt3. For those who are frighteningly obsessive about having uniform boxes, buttons, and sliders, QtCurve is perfect.

If QtCurve is in your Linux (or other Unix-like OS) distribution’s repository, installing qtcurve is as simple as a single command, such as the Ubuntu command:

sudo apt-get install qtcurve

Many distributions, however, do not have the latest version. For that you will need to compile it from source. First, visit, and download all three source archives: KDE 4, KDE 3, and Gtk 2. Then, open a terminal, such as Konsole, and follow these steps:

(Note: To compile from source, you will need the qt, gtk, and kde development libraries installed)

1. Extract the archives:

tar -xvjf QtCurve-Gtk2-1.2.0.tar.bz2
tar -xvjf QtCurve-KDE3-1.2.0.tar.bz2
tar -xvjf QtCurve-KDE4-1.2.0.tar.bz2

2. Repeat these steps for each directory:

cd QtCurve-KDE4-1.2.0
mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make install

3. Start KDE “System Settings”

QtCurve settings

4. Click “Appearance”

5. In the “Style” tab, click the widget style dropdown menu and select “QtCurve”

6. Click “Configure…”

7. Choose a preset theme, import one you have downloaded from, or fiddle with the settings until you have the theme you want

8. Click the “Legacy” option (third from the bottom)

9. Click “Export colors and fonts” for both KDE3 and pure Qt3, and then click OK

10. With the appearance settings still open, click “GTK Styles and Fonts”

QtCurve GTK settings

11. Choose “User another style”, select “QtCurve”, and then click “Apply”

12. Close System Settings

At this point, you have configured the KDE4 and GTK2 settings, but your pure Qt3 and Qt4 apps, such as SMplayer and Arora browser, will be unaffected. Follow these steps to configure each.

1. Press Alt-F2 and type “qtconfig” in the Run Command dialog

2. When the Qt-Configuration window appears, select “QtCurve” as the GUI style

3. Click “File” and “Save”

4. Close the window

QT Configuration for Qt4

5. Press Alt-F2 again and this time type “qtconfig-qt4”

6. Select QtCurve, click “File” and “Save”, and close the window.

You should now have a completely unified desktop with all of your apps looking like they were cut from the same mold. You can control colors for all widget sets in your normal KDE color dialog in System Settings. You also have the option of using the QtCurve window decorator, which now supports KDE 4’s window grouping (a.k.a. tabbed windows). Configuration options for the window decoration are in the QtCurve style settings dialog.

To download more QtCurve themes, visit and click “Themes/Styles”. Look for themes that have “QtCurve” next to the titles or just use the search function.


Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox