Sprinkle Some Eye Candy on your KDE Desktop

KDE is beautiful, even if you never change a thing on your desktop. What makes it even more appealing is all of the customizable visual features. Three areas you should consider spicing up a little are your KDE style/theme, your Plasma Workspace theme, and your icons. The following are just a few of the most popular in each category on KDE-Look.org.

Styles and Themes

In KDE, a style refers to the window color, buttons, scroll bars, progress bars, and similar interactive visual components. Themes include color schemes and more, all in one package. You can set styles in System Settings -> Application Appearance -> Style.

Qtcurve – One of the most highly acclaimed styles, Qtcurve gives you ultimate control over customizable features. The configuration settings are extensive, giving you control over button style, gradients, and even accompanying window manager settings. Many users have created their own Qtcurve presets that you can download and use.

Bespin – Bespin is the technical successor to the famous Baghira style from KDE 3. With rounded buttons, silver gradient backgrounds, and an exotic selection of visual options, it is by far the most stylized of the available KDE styles, and outsiders may not even recognize your desktop as being KDE. Like Qtcurve, Bespin also has a window manager theme to go along with it.

KDE Bespin style

Oxygen Transparent – Plainly put, Oxygen Transparent is the Oxygen style with support for translucent windows applied to it. Normally, only the window decorator can be translucent or transparent, but this features gives you control over the opacity of the entire window. This is best used with the Blur effect, which only works with certain graphics cards.

KDE Oxygen transparent style

Plasma Themes

Plasma themes control how your panel, Krunner, and widgets appear. You can change themes in System Settings – Workspace Appearance – Desktop Theme.

Glassified – Slick and smooth, Glassified gives you a clear picture of your desktop, through the looking glass.

Tibanna – This theme is designed to go with Bespin, and unlike most other themes, it will give you an opaque panel and widgets, complete with Bespin gradient backgrounds.

Elegance – Elegance is reminiscent of the earlier black Oxygen theme with a little more class to it. It is very dark and will set a night mood to your workspace.

Ghost – If nothing else, Ghost wins points just for being unique. This will transform your desktop into something completely different.  If you can stand the extremely dark theme, it will make your computer desktop look like it came off an alien ship.

KDE plasma ghost theme


Black and White icons – These black and white icons will go nicely with the new monochrome system tray icons. They will extend the silvery feel of Oxygen.


MIB Ossiengo – Like your icons were dipped in the ocean, these icons have an aqua-like feel to them.

H2O – Add hydrogen to oxygen, and you get the H2O icon set. As the creator describes it, H2O will add color and life to your desktop.

If you want more themes, icons, and styles, you can add browse/search for them directly from within System Settings or go to KDE-Look.org.

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.


  1. KDE is so cool. Too bad QT is still so tied to Nokia/Trolltech. Last time I checked their licence seemed to be quite liberal in licensing. But I’m simply not sure after all these years. I hope the next version of KDE uses wxWidgets instead…

    1. Qt is licensed under GPL, so I don’t know why you think it would be a problem. Even if Microsoft completely swallowed up Nokia, the community could always take the last free version of Qt and fork it. That’s the beauty of free software.

  2. I HATE Oxygen, I despise the window decorations (useless with poor vision and is the first thing Im asked to change) and another 2-3 default things on KDE.
    So what?
    Default is a problem with the two other OS, its not with ours.
    I really dont like the white look of Oxygen? I can switch to my fave, Slim Glow or I can DL a ton of others (variations of the same themes) so default is neither a problem nor does it hold any sway over me.

    The great thing about choice is that my desktop can look how I WANT IT, not how you want it or how some ‘specialist’ says I want it. (yeah, that goes for the left side buttons thing…sure YOU might think its cool but its a subjective thing… like most desktop options)

    When I install Linux for friends, family and coworkers, I spend the extra time to customize their desktop and visibility is a problem not only for seniors but for many younger people.
    The first thing people say is “can yo make this bigger?”
    UI specialists might get all moist at the thought of that sleek panel but the biggest problem with it is usually, its too small. I know this must drive them insane but once you show people how to make the taskbars bigger, the first thing they do is… just that.

    I actually go through the main changes they might want to do and I record the desktop with RecorditNow or some other software. That way when the person forgets what I showed them, they can just replay what we did earlier and the bonus of having voice on top explaining it again.
    THAT is a must I find with newbies.

    THe great thing about making the desktop truly yours is the fact that I can look at our home KDE use, work, desktop, kids, wife and netbooks as well as my folks and cousins and none of them look the same.
    Its all KDE but their way of using it is their own.
    Some people looooove icons and want everythign onthe desktop, some dont.
    Some love widgets, some dont and some like my dad have virtual desktop specific widgets whenever they switch.

    THATS what the perfect desktop looks like: the one that suits YOUR needs the best.

    So hate Oxygen and other defaults all you like, they are not your choices and you have no reason to like them if you dont.

    We have choice in free software and thats a great thing.

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