Have you ever wished your Android devices and your Linux computers worked together more seamlessly? KDE Connect is something you should check out because it alleviates the headaches of the multi-device experience.
KDE Connect is an Android app and a Desktop app that acts as a bridge between your mobile devices and your computers. KDE Connect provides a ton of useful features such as pushing Android notifications to your desktop, viewing device battery status on your desktop, and clipboard synchronization. KDE Connect also provides remote control tools for multimedia control, typing with your device keyboard and even turning your mobile device into a Touchpad for your computer.
If that wasn’t enough, KDE Connect also supports sending files bi-directionally between your devices as well as mounting your mobile devices to the file manager of your computer to wirelessly browse your devices.
Due to the possibility that not all users will want all features, the developers of KDE Connect thought of this and built a Plugin System so you can turn off any feature you do not want to use. I typically use it all because I’m kind of addicted to this tool. My issues aside, if you want to turn off any of the features you can do so from the Android app.
KDE Connect Sets Itself Apart
There are other tools out there, like Pushbullet or Airdroid, that provide some of the same features, but KDE Connect does it more seamlessly, reliably, and securely. KDE Connect uses RSA Encryption to ensure each end point in the process is secure, and these days security is an important aspect on the minds of practically everyone.
KDE Connect utilizes RSA Encryption by default via sharing RSA Keys in a public/private pairing system between your devices to ensure the devices being used are the devices that are paired. This allows for KDE Connect to keep track of every device paired, whether it is connected to the network or not. It also ensures that rogue devices can’t pair themselves to your setup.
Remote Input Control for Mouse & Keyboard
Remote Touchpad Input is one of the coolest features because it allows you to turn your Android phone/tablet into a Wireless Touchpad for your computers. If you’ve ever wanted to do this then you’ll be happy to see that not only does the touchpad functionality work in all versions of KDE Connect, for all distros, but it works flawlessly.
I can’t accurately describe how cool it is to have a 7″ tablet turned into a touchpad anytime I want. The remote touchpad feature even supports the multi-finger functionality provided by your device, including Two Finger Scrolling with more features on the roadmap.
Remote Keyboard Input allows you to use any Android keyboard, including keyboards like Swype that utilize gesture typing, as the keyboard input of your computer. This feature requires version 0.7.3+ to be installed on your computer but the installation for 0.7.3+ is a bit weird right now for Ubuntu related distributions, so if you are interested in having this functionality then scroll down to the installation section. I address how to get this there.
Multi-Device Clipboard Synchronization
The multi-device clipboard synch feature is freaking cool. No wait, make that Awesome!
The Clipboard Synchronization works across all paired & connected devices instantaneously. This feature not only lets you sync your clipboard from your computer to your phone and vice versa but it also allows you to use KDE Connect to spread the clipboard entry to all connected devices. If you have connected and paired a desktop computer, an Android device, and a laptop computer you will be able to use the KDE Connect as a middle man to sync the clipboard of all devices.
If you were to copy something to the clipboard on the Desktop computer then KDE Connect will detect that and sync it to the Android device, sync it to the laptop computer, and sync it to any other connected device. You may not be amazed by the feature at first, but once you start using it, you will instantly love KDE Connect.
Remote Control Your Multimedia Applications
The remote control feature allows you to remotely control your music players and video players from your Android device. This feature supports a large number of audio and video players including Amarok, Clementine, VLC and many more. If you’d like to check if your player of choice is supported then all you need to do is start playing something in that player and then open the Multimedia Control on the Android app, if it supports it then KDE Connect will automatically detect it and allow you to control the player from the app.
Wirelessly Mount Your Android Device
KDE Connect utilizes SSHFS in order to securely and wirelessly mount your Android device’s file system to your computers. You will be able to browse all of the files on your device via your preferred File Manager whether that be Dolphin, Nemo, Nautilus, Thunar, or etc.
This feature is available in practically all versions of KDE Connect but you will need to install the sshfs package in order to utilize it. KDE’s Dolphin file manager will automatically detect the device but if you are using a different file manager on another desktop environment then you will need to launch the Browse device option from the Indicator menu.
sudo apt install sshfs
Getting Started with KDE Connect
The setup process is different depending on your particular computing experience, so there are differences in which distro you are using, which version of the distro, and which desktop environment you are using. It won’t be possible to cover all configurations in this article so if you have a question please make a comment below and I will be happy to help you get KDE Connect setup.
Kubuntu Users and/or Other KDE-based Distros
KDE users won’t need to do anything special, simply install the “kdeconnect” package from your repository and you are ready to start pairing. KDE users will also have the ability to request pairing from their Android devices. KDE Connects supports all desktop environments but naturally the most seamless experience is going to be for KDE users since they won’t need to use the indicator package.
Non-KDE Users such as GNOME, Cinnamon, Unity, MATE, etc
You will need to use an indicator applet for KDE Connect in order to connect your preferred DE to the KDE Connect daemon. This isn’t hard to do but it does add a couple extra steps to get KDE Connect setup. As an overview, you will need to add the indicator ppa, then install indicator-kdeconnect (which installs kdeconnect automatically), and finally you will need to use the indicator to request pairing for your device.
KDE is the only Desktop Environment (DE) that supports full interaction with System Notifications, based on my testing, so the Accept/Reject options in the notifications will only work inside KDE. Non-KDE users will need to request the pairing from the desktop indicator/applet instead of the Android app.
KDE Connect Installation Guide
Ubuntu & Ubuntu-based (except Mint)
Ubuntu has two different versions available in their repositories depending on which version of Ubuntu you are using. If you are using Ubuntu 15.04 or newer then you’re ready to install, but If you are using 14.04 then by default you will be presented with kdeconnect version 0.7.1 which will work fine for almost everything but if you want to have the Remote Control Keyboard feature you will need version 0.7.3 or newer. This isn’t that big of a problem but it means you will need to add a PPA to get a later version.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vikoadi/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install kdeconnect
Non-KDE Users Only:
If you don’t use KDE then you will also need to install the KDE Connect Indicator which is also available from the previously installed PPA.
sudo apt install indicator-kdeconnect
Debian & Other Distros
Debian by default has 0.7.2 in Jessie so if you want Remote Keyboard support you’ll need to install kdeconnect from Stretch or Sid branches for version 0.8.
openSUSE, Fedora, Arch, Mageia, and OpenMandriva have version 0.8 available in their default repositories.
Linux Mint Users
Linux Mint is considered one of the easiest distros to use, but ironically Mint users have more to do for setup. For some reason, The Mint Team decided to make their repository packages set with a priority of 700 in order to overwrite Ubuntu’s priorities but they kind of screwed up because it doesn’t stop there. PPAs typically issue a priority of 500, so due to the priority that Mint set, which is too damn high, the PPA package gets ignored, forcing the user to take extra steps.
In order to get the PPA version of kdeconnect in Linux Mint you will have to first Download the .deb file for your computer (32bit or 64bit), launch the .deb and install it with Gdebi, and you’ll be ready to launch indicator-kdeconnect.
KDE Connect All The Things
KDE Connect is a fantastic tool and in my opinion is by far the best solution for bridging your Android device to your Linux computer. It might be worth noting that KDE Connect depends on many KDE packages to function, so you will be installing a lot of dependencies on a Non-KDE distro but in my opinion, this is not a problem at all. When was the last time you worried about how large an application file was?
KDE Connect is also not feature complete so they are continuously adding new features with each release and I, for one, am extremely excited to see what comes next. I know that sending a text message from your computer via KDE Connect is a feature on their to-do list.
KDE Connect is an awesome tool provided by an awesome team of developers and I look forward to the future. What are your opinions of KDE Connect? Am I hyping it too much or do you agree that it deserves the hype? Let me know in the comments below.