kde on ubuntu

Ubuntu has numerous flavors, each designed to provide a unique experience while still being Ubuntu at the core. The main factor that distinguishes these flavors is the desktop environment (DE). For instance, the most recognizable part of Kubuntu is the KDE Plasma Desktop.

The Plasma Desktop is a fan-favorite with its elegant and polished look/feel. The UI resembles Windows which is great for transitioning users. And compared to GNOME, it’s lighter on resources too.

The Plasma Desktop’s appeal is clear, but installing Kubuntu just to try out a new DE is not worth it for most users. This is where the KDE packages come in.

Choosing the Right Version

You’ll find three meta packages in the Ubuntu repository for installing the Plasma desktop.

KDE Full

KDE Full is the complete collection. It includes kde-standard and kde-plasma-desktop as well as additional packages like kdemultimedia, kdeutils, etc. You check all the included packages (they’ll be listed as dependencies) by running the following command:

apt show kde-full

KDE Standard

KDE Standard is a stripped-down version that includes commonly used apps like Kate (text editor), Dragon Player (multimedia player), Okular (document viewer), etc. Once again, you can check the exact contents with

apt show kde-standard

KDE Plasma Desktop

KDE Plasma Desktop is the minimal version that only includes core packages like plasma-desktop and kde-baseapps. This is the lightest collection at roughly 300 MBs.

apt show kde-plasma-desktop 

It’s also the one we’re going to install in this guide as it’s the best option for trying out KDE on Ubuntu. The installation process will mostly be the same even if you go with the other two collections.

Installing KDE Plasma Desktop

Note: Installing the Plasma desktop will change part of the UI of GNOME (file manager, icons, etc.). If you dislike Plasma and decide to remove it later, you’ll need to manually revert the configs which is a major hassle. Make sure you’re okay with this before proceeding further.

Update your package index first to ensure you have access to the latest kde-plasma-desktop version.

sudo apt update

Then, install the package like so

sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop

You’ll be prompted to select the default display manager. Select SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager) here and press Enter.

Note: If you want to switch back to GNOME Display Manager (gdm3), you can use the following command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure sddm 

Once the installation completes, reboot your machine. You should land at the SDDM lock screen after rebooting.

SDDM Lockscreen

Plasma will be selected by default here, and you should enter your password to sign in. But You can switch back to GNOME from here if you want to do so in the future. But for now, just enter your password to go with the current selection (Plasma) and sign in.

KDE Plasma Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04

You’ll land at the KDE Plasma desktop. Customization is Plasma’s strong suit, so feel free to launch System Settings and explore all the available options. 

Anup Thapa

Senior Writer

Anup Thapa is a Linux enthusiast with an extensive background in computer hardware and networking. His goal is to effectively communicate technical concepts in a simplified form understandable by new Linux users. To this end, he mainly writes beginner-friendly tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Outside of work, he enjoys reading up on a range of topics, traveling, working out, and MOBAs.