Kubuntu Like You Ubuntu

January 5, 2007

Kubuntu’s mostly-standard KDE desktop layout bears no resemblence to Ubuntu/Gnome. The good news is that if you prefer one layout over the other it’s quite possible to modify the two desktops to look more or less identical. This guide concentrates on applying Ubuntu/Gnome-style layout to Kubuntu/KDE’s panels. If you are going to be using both desktops interchangeably and often it makes sense to have both desktops fairly similar for ease of use.

Starting up…

The most noticeable difference between Ubuntu/Gnome and Kubuntu/KDE is the loss of a second panel. The KDE panel contains everything normally found on the top Gnome panel, plus a Taskbar.

Main Panel to the Top

Rather than delete everything at the bottom and the re-create it above, we can just move the current panel up & create a new blank at the bottom.

  1. Right-click on a blank are of the bottom panel & select “Configure Panel…”
  2. Click the button in the top-left of the arrangement selections.
  3. Adjust the size of the panel to Small.
  4. Click OK.

Your panel should now have jumped to the top of the screen.

Second Panel

Right-click again on the top panel, select “Add New Panel…” and choose “Panel”.
We cannot use the Taskbar panel type because we also want to be able to add the Desktop Switcher and Trash applets.

The next step is to configure the bottom panel to make it the same size as the top one. Unfortunately there is a confirmed bug which prevents editing settings on double panels. If you try and configure the panel, your settings are applied to the main panel instead. Thankfully the fix is simple.

After you have added your second panel simply press Alt-F2 to bring up the Run Command dialog, then enter:

touch ~/.kde/share/config/kickerrc

This reloads the panel configuration & updates with the newly added panel.

Right click on either panel and select “Configure Panel…”. In the window that appears you now have the ability (thanks to the bugfix) to select which panel you want to change. In this drop-down list, “Main Panel” refers to the panel at the top of the screen, whereas “Panel” refers to the one at the bottom. Select “Panel”.

Adjust the size of this bottom panel to Small to match the top panel (and Ubuntu/Gnome).

You may also wish to disable the auto-hiding button on this bar. To do this select the “Hiding” section of the configuration panel. Simply uncheck the checkbox next to “Show right panel-hiding button”.

Click OK to take you back to your desktop.

Taskbar on the Bottom

Now we have our bottom panel sorted out, we need to start adding the standard Ubuntu/Gnome functionality to it. The process for adding applets to a panel is straightforward. Simply right-click on the panel, select “Add Applet to Panel” and then choose your applet from the list. It’s not important which order you do this in because you can drag things around, but for simplicity sakes do the following:

  1. Add Trash Icon.
  2. Add Desktop Switcher
  3. Add Taskbar
  4. Add Show Desktop Icon

Now they are all in place you can now drag them around the panel until you get something that looks something like this:

Finish up the Top

Now we have a Taskbar on the top panel and one at the bottom. Right-click on the top panel and select “Remove From Panel…”, “Applet” and “Taskbar”. Repeat this step again to remove the “Desktop Preview & Pager” applet.

With the space now created we can add the additional functions found in Ubuntu/Gnome to the top panel.

Applications, Locations, Settings

Unfortunately, KDE doesn’t support having the text labels on for the main menus (which conveniently increase the click-area for the most used menu). However, we can still arrange the same functions in the same place.

We already have a Programs button (the “K” Menu) and an equivalent of Places (the “System Menu”). Next to these two in Ubuntu/Gnome we also have a Settings menu. To add this right-click on the top Panel and select “Add Applet to Panel…” and select “Settings” from the list that appears.

The settings icon (a spanner) will appear somewhere on the top Panel. To move it to the correct position, right click and select “Move Settings Menu”. You can now drag it to it’s correct location next to the System menu.

At this point you may also want to replace the Konqueror icon with Firefox if you prefer. The first step is to right-click on the Konqueror icon and select “Remove Konqueror Browser Button”. Now, to add Firefox right-click again and select “Add Application to Panel”. Choose Firefox from the list that appears (it’s available under Internet).

Logout & Clock

To add the Panel Lock/Logout functionality you find in Ubuntu/Gnome you simply need to add another Applet. Right click on the Panel, select “Add Applet to Panel…” and find “Lock/Logout Buttons”. Once you’ve added this, drag it to it’s correct position as using the grip that appears when you put your mouse over the buttons.

Changing the clock is personal preference – you may find it’s a little big for the new thin Panel. To change fonts simply right click on the clock and choose “Configure Clock…” Use the window that appears to make the neccessary changes and then click OK.

Wallpaper & Icons

These are of course option – the icons and wallpaper will have minimal impact on usability of switching desktops. Personally I prefer the clean style of the KDE Crystal icons to the chunky Human ones from Ubuntu/Gnome, especially as under KDE the theme is not complete. However, for those of you who really want to complete the switch there are a couple of simple steps to take.

Click the K-Menu and select System Settings. In the panel that appears select Appearance and then Icons. Choose Human from the list on the right. Click OK and the Ubuntu Human Icons will be applied after a short delay.

If you have Ubuntu/Gnome installed you will already have the ubuntu-wallpapers packaged installed. However, if you removed the ubuntu-desktop metapackage you may find that ubuntu-wallpapers disappeared with it. First, we’ll check to make sure it’s installed.

  • Click “K” Menu, System, Adept Manager.
  • In the Adept Manager window, enter “wallpaper” into the Search box.
  • Find edgy-wallpapers in the package list below.
  • If it is marked as “Installed” you already have the wallpapers packaged. Otherwise, right-click and select “Request Install”.
  • Push the “Apply Changes” button, wait for the installation to complete & then exit Adept.

Now, to select the default ubuntu wallpaper, right click on your Desktop and select “Configure Desktop…”

Ubuntu/Gnome and Kubuntu/KDE keep their wallpapers in a different location so they will not appear automatically in the wallpaper drop-down list. To find them, click the Folder icon next to the current wallpaper drop-down list and you will get an Open dialog window.

In the location bar at the top enter:


Select “ubuntu-smooth chocolate” and click OK.

The last change you can make at this point is to remove the grey gradient on the panels which comes standard with Kubunt/KDE to make it flat. To do this, simple right-click on either Panel, choose “Configure Panel…” and then select Appearance.

Uncheck the box next to “Enable background image…”


If you’ve completed ever step in this guide, you’ll get the following result:

It’s not a perfect replica of the Ubuntu/Gnome desktop (suggestions welcome) but it means you will be faced with substantially similar interface when switching between the two.


If you would rather not make all these changes yourself, you can download the final kickerrc config file [+], extract it and Save it over your current configuration in:


Restart kicker by pressing Alt-F2 to bring up the Run Command dialog and entering:

dcop kicker kicker restart

Using this update will make all the neccessary changes to the panels, but you will still need to change the wallpaper & icon settings yourself if you wish.


If you have any suggestions for improvements to make KDE even more Ubuntu/Gnome like, then leave comments below / on Ubuntu forums. All ideas welcome! If you’re in the UK (or not) you can also join the Ubuntu-UK group for more help & information.


10 Responses to “Kubuntu Like You Ubuntu”

  1. THAT WAS THE BEST TUTORIAL I EVERY HAD. Keep up the good work. Really help a linux newbie like me out

  2. Dale said

    Thank you thank you thank you! This was an amazing tutorial, although all I was after was getting a second CONFIGURABLE panel in KDE, and didn’t want the whole gnome look. You explained everything so well! I wish there were more noob-friendly tutorials like this one easily available on the web.

  3. Pike said

    Thanks so much for this tutorial, I’ve long wanted to make my KDE desktop into a sort of KDE/Gnome hybrid and this tutorial was the perfect way for me to get started. Thank you!!

  4. Pike: I think both desktops have something to offer in terms of design. It’s good to be able to have the best of both worlds isn’t it? Personally I’ve now got a KDE vs. Gnome vs. Mac hybrid. Rearrange it every few months to keep myself confused…

    Thanks for the feedback! Hope to do some more Linux tutorials in the near future.

  5. Mark Roe said

    Go here and you will find the application that I use to finish it off.

    I love this menu for KDE. For me this COMPLETES my KDE environment. I can’t use KDE without it.



  6. mexlinux said

    If you want a larger click area for the Kmenu, you can install the applet kbfx or the kickoff

  7. everettattebury said

    Thanks for this tutorial. I have just one thing to add:

    You can have a single logout button in KDE, instead of the two you get with the Lock/Logout Buttons applet.

    Just use the KDE Menu Editor, and create a new entry somewhere (I put it under Utilities in mine). Name it “Logout”, select the “exit” icon from the “Actions” section, and in the command field put “dcop kdesktop default logout”. Save the entry and then exit. Then find the new entry in the KMenu, right-click it and choose “Add Item to Main Panel”.

    To learn more about using dcop to control your kde desktop, you can get the tutorial at

  8. nb said

    Woohoo, this is awesome!! Thanks! Keep up the great work!

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