How To Use KDE’s Netbook-Optimized Interface [Linux]

Danny Stieben 05-11-2011

netbook optimized linuxOne of the major benefits of the Linux desktop is the ability to customize literally every aspect of your computing experience. If you want an ultralight and speedy desktop, you’re covered. If you want a flashy, powerful desktop that you can show off to your friends, you’re covered. KDE, one of the popular desktop environments, has plenty of customization features but did you know it offers an netbook optimized Linux desktop interface?


An Introduction To The Problem & Solution

KDE has been known for offering a very flashy and eye candy-filled desktop interface that is very powerful at the same time. However, as is common with most other desktop-optimized interfaces, the buttons are relatively small, which makes using a netbook a little harder than it needs to be. With netbook-optimized interfaces, using such a small device is easier as the buttons on the screen are usually larger, making them easier to see and select.

netbook optimized linux

For a while now, KDE has offered a netbook interface that makes using netbooks and similar devices easier while still keeping the flashy eye candy that KDE is known for. At first sight, it’s quite impressive and really makes better use of the screen for such a low-power device.

How To Get It

kde netbook

This is possible, of course, only if you have KDE installed and boot into it. There are numerous distributions that either use KDE by default or have KDE spins, such as Kubuntu Why Are There So Many Versions of Ubuntu? [Technology Explained] Read More , Fedora Linux Just Got Better With The Fedora 16 Beta Distribution Linux distributions have been improving by leaps and bounds, and those improvements are becoming visible in the latest beta releases. Fedora, one of the flagship distributions carrying GNOME 3, is no different and should have... Read More , openSUSE How To Install KDE Trunk On openSUSE [Linux] The open source world moves at a very fast pace, and although there are a lot of regular releases, the time between releases can already offer features that you may need. Using the trunk version... Read More , and many more. From your desktop, go to your menu and select System Settings. Next, choose the Workspace Behavior category, choose the Workspace tab, and then select the Netbook workspace type. Wait a couple of seconds (depending on the speed of your computer), and the new interface should be loaded.


About The Interface


Now you should be able to see the new interface in all its glory. All new opened applications will launch full screen. Don’t panic if you can’t find a Quit/Close button somewhere on the program’s interface itself, as you’ll find a close button if you shove your mouse up into the top right corner.

Speaking of which, the panel at the top contains roughly the same items as the panel you’re used to at the bottom. You’ll still see all the tray icons you’re used to, and all running applications will show up where it says “x running applications“, where x is the number. You’ll see the panel in the screenshot below.


kde netbook

You’ll also see that there are two different “pages” at the top left – Search and launch, and Page One. These organize different screens that you can see. Search and Launch is self-explanatory, as it contains all the buttons to launch any installed application. Page one is the default name for a custom page, which contains only widgets that you can add and remove as you wish.


Configure Pages

netbook optimized linux

You can also click on the little cashew in the bottom left corner to view a small panel of options to manipulate your pages and widgets. Here you can also delete or add entire pages, so you’re more than welcome to add a couple if one isn’t enough. This page, you can have unlimited virtual screen space for all your widgets. All widgets you already know and love can be used here as well.


Overall, I have to say that KDE has done a good job with this interface. There are a few things that I’d personally like to see included, such as running applications getting grouped into their own tabs, but that’s just personal preference. The netbook interface is still great and deserves a lot of praise. I recommend that you try it out if you have a device that could benefit from it.

What are your opinions of KDE’s netbook interface? What about netbook-optimized interfaces in general? Let us know in the comments!


Related topics: KDE, Linux Distro, Netbook.

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  1. Leif Burrow
    December 15, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Does anybody have any ideas on how to make KDE use both interfaces at the same time?  

    Here is what I mean.  I want the full Desktop GUI on my Desktop when I sit at it locally.  Give me 3D effects and everything. However, I recently aquired a touch screen monitor that I intend to keep in my garage on the workbench.  I already have an Ethernet drop there.  I intend to put an old laptop on it (hopefully to be replaced with a Raspberry Pi after they are released). The laptop/pi is meant to just be an X-Server.  I want it to be a dedicated X-Terminal for my Desktop upstairs.

    What I would like is to have the Netbook interface at the workbench so that it I can primarily use the touch screen, and only pull out the keyboard when necessary. I don't want the keyboard taking up workbench space.  I have a tiny keyboard (less convenient to type on than a full size one) for this and intend to velcro it to the underside of a shelf.
    While at it, a way to use KDE in VNC, automatically stripping out all the 3D & font effects while still keeping them locally would be awesome. For now I am using Ratpoison for VNC which would probably be awesome if I had time to memorize the key combinations but I don't.  It gets kind of weird when using programs that have 'toolboxes' in separate windows such as Gimp too.  I would really like to standardize on just KDE and share all the appropriate settings between those 3 places while keeping certain settings automatically different.

    I am thinking maybe I can create a couple extra copies of the startkde script and modify them? I would hate to do anything too invasive and then have to redo it for every KDE upgrade though....

  2. Code&Chips
    November 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    As a kde desktop user ..have to say it looks and functions very neatly... beautiful job, well done the KDE team, will look to install this in a low end laptop soon to bring it back to life. Hope to see it in tablets in the bear future!

    • Danny Stieben
      November 18, 2011 at 1:49 am

      Hopefully so! There are extremely minor bugs and performance issues that I found here and there, but overall its a good experience on a computing device. Can't wait for optimized builds.