How To: Customize Your Linux Desktop

Customize Your Linux Desktop

Linux can have the most beautiful interface in the world, because it is simply what you make of it. You can change every little detail with relative ease because that's what Linux is all about: Freedom and OpenSource.

I posted pictures of my desktop on the corkboard a few weeks back, encouraging others to show me theirs. I got a few compliments from people, as well as requests for how to get such nice looking themes in Linux.

In this Null Byte, I've made a video demonstrating how I customize my desktop. I can go into a lot greater detail with .dotfiles, etc. but I wanted to keep things simple. So, I'm showing you how to install a Desktop Environment (I chose KDE), plus how to get new themes, hack existing ones, and explain how you can go about hacking .bashrc to get an awesome looking terminal and work environment.

Before the Video

Here are a few commands you should know, which are used in the video.

  • cd = changes directories
  • pacman -Ss = searches the Pacman repositories
  • pacman -S = installs a specified package from the repositories
  • nano = edits a text file with the nano editor
  • ls = lists subdirectories in your current working directory


  • You don't have to use the "startx" command. You can go into the console, in run level 3, and issue the following command:

    xinit /usr/bin/<desktop environment/window manager>

If you have any questions, feel free to have one-on-one chats with me on the Null Byte IRC.

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Thanks Alex! I'll have to look this up again when I'm at my parents to play on my linux box.

I'm not sure how you install KDE... It's very confusing... Can you tell me?

sudo apt-get install KDE

Oh. oops i clicked the wrong one :P. another software, a paid one...

Strange. What did you click? Also, what is your fresh perspective on the KDE install and beginning use "process"?

I don't know... Now when I try to install theres a big list of local mirrors... I'm so confused...

What distro are you using?

Ubuntu 11.04- Natty

sudo apt-get install kubuntu maybe? Or look for it under Applications > Ubuntu Software Center. Search "kubuntu".

I should install Ubuntu Customization Kit then?


sudo apt-get install kde-full

That worked on my linux mint 11 two days ago.

I should install Ubuntu Customization Kit then?

If you want? :p That is up to you.

no but I mean you said to search for kubuntu, and there are multiple results. these are them- Kubuntu restricted areas, Educational desktop for Kubuntu, Ubuntu customization kit, and two Ubuntu User Ausgabe. Which one do I install?

You just type the command into a terminal.

Oh ok... Thanks a lot!

sudo apt-get install kde-full
That's what you need to do.

What do I do with that? Sorry this is going on sooo long, I'm just confused...

Step 1: Open terminal
Step 2: copy in the below line, excluding the newline

sudo apt-get install kde-full

Step 3: hit enter
Step 4: Follow any and all instructions on screen
Step 5:Follow further commands to set KDE (or KDC) as your default desktop environment
Step 6:Logout
Step 7: Log back in, and enjoy KDE

Alt instructions:follow 1-4, then logout, then look for an icon at login that says something like "advanced" or "options" and switch from Gnome to KDE (or KDC, whichever it says in the menu)


I trust that you are using slim? :p

I love your MOTD. He is random, isn't it ? Where can I find it ? D:

It's the forune-mod package in the AUR.

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