posted by Robert C. Dowdy on Tue 8th Oct 2002 02:36 UTC

"Yes, it is still KDE - Part II"
Now would probably be a good time to surf over to KDE-Look.org and grab some new background images and icons. I suggest the Conectiva Crystal Icons Beta 0.6 or higher, which contains Everaldo's excellent icon set (finally including a few of the animated variety). The process for installing a new icon theme is nearly identical to the process for theming GDM. Just download the archive, then select it from inside Look And Feel -> Icons and click on "Install New Theme". Once you have the Crystal icons (or another set of your choosing) installed, the default look of Red Hat's KDE is nearly gone.

Next, select Look And Feel -> Window Decoration and choose one of the alternate decorations Red Hat has provided. I suggest Keramik, which seems to be fully functional here, even (thankfully) following the system color scheme instead of overriding it with its own light blue. Next, select Look And Feel -> Style and experiment until you find a style you like. Again, I suggest Keramik. That done, visit Look And Feel -> Colors and select (or create) a new color scheme. At this point I suggest anything but Keramik. You might like it -- maybe I'm just allergic to light blue. I use a slightly modified KDE Default.

Now, stop for a moment and have a look around. The infamous Bluecurve is no more, but there's still lots of room for further tweaking. Finish exploring the Control Center! There are lots of great little options, such as Web Browsing -> Konqueror Browser -> Appearance. By default, Konqueror is set up to display a minimum font size of 7. Change this to 9 or 10 and you'll be amazed at the difference in the display of certain websites (such as DistroWatch). While you're exploring, check out Enhanced Browsing, where you can set up search shortcuts for Konqueror. For instance, to query Google with the search term "linux" you can type gg:linux into Konqueror's address bar or any command box (you might want to add a command box to your panel by right-clicking it and selecting Add -> Applet -> Application Launcher -- it's more than the name implies, however, since you can also type in Internet addresses, search queries, and requests for nicely formatted manual pages).

KDE is highly configurable, to say the least. I could go on and on, but I feel I've given you a strong enough start that you can confidently customize KDE to suit your personal tastes. As you can see, modified or not, at its heart this is still KDE.

PLUGINS

The download edition of Psyche doesn't include the popular browser plugins such as Java and Flash, but as you'll see the situation is relatively easy to rectify. We'll start by getting Java up and running in Mozilla and Konqueror. It is possible to install the Java plugin from your normal user account by starting Mozilla as the root user, but in both my attempts Mozilla would hang at the end of the installation. So instead we'll just break all the rules and log in to root's desktop. So, log out of your regular user account and at the login screen, log in as root. Bear in mind that you never want to do this in general, since it's almost certain you'll wreck your system eventually!

Now that you're logged in, go ahead and fire up Mozilla. Point it to this page, where you will see information on “Java By Sun Microsystems” with a link entitled “Click To Download”. Click that link and it will offer to install Java for you. After it finishes downloading, it will be automatically installed. Mozilla will now load up Java applets nicely with no further work on your part. To get Konqueror going, we have to do a bit more configuring. Fire up Konqueror and from the main menu select Settings -> Configure Konqueror and in the dialog that pops up choose Konqueror Browser and select the 'Java' tab and under 'Global Settings' click 'Enable Java Globally'. In the lower right-hand corner you'll see 'Path to java executable, or 'java'. In the text box, type (or navigate to) the following: /usr/lib/mozilla-1.0.1/plugins/java2/bin/java. Now restart Konqueror and it should be ready to work with Java applets. A word of warning: I found Konqueror to be significantly slower than Mozilla at opening applets.

Next, we'll get Flash installed. Click here to visit the download page. Save the player (it's a gzipped tarball) to your machine, then open up a terminal and change to the directory you saved it to. Now we need to extract the files (you don't need to be root yet):

tar xvzf flash_linux.tar.gz

cd flash_linux (to switch into the newly-created directory)

Now we'll become root and copy the plugin files to Mozilla's plugins directory:

cp libflashplayer.so ShockwaveFlash.class /usr/lib/mozilla-1.0.1/plugins/

Mozilla should now be ready to render Flash animations. Visit a Flash-enabled website to test it. Unfortunately, I was unable to convince Konqueror to use the Flash plugin. Due to time constraints, I have not investigated this in detail.

There are also other plugins available for Linux browsers that I have not tested with Red Hat 8.0, but that you might find of interest.

You might want to check out CodeWeavers' Crossover Plugin, which uses WINE to integrate plugins (and other small utilities such as the Trillian instant messaging software and various document viewers) designed for Microsoft Windows into Linux. The Plugin will also install Microsoft's core fonts for you, which you can then copy into your own ~/.fonts/ directory as described above. A freely downloadable and fully functional demo is available. Codeweavers uses the excellent Loki installer and ample documentation is provided. While fully functional, the demo does contain a small "nag screen" urging you to purchase the product. The nag screen pops up randomly during use, but as far as I can recall Crossover Plugin has the only nag screens that have ever made me laugh out loud. It's definitely worth checking out.

As of this writing, Macromedia is conducting a beta test of Flash 6.0. I haven't personally checked into this, since Flash functionality isn't a priority for me, but you may find it worth investigating.

Don't forget to log out of the root user's desktop and return to your own.

Table of contents
  1. "Introduction"
  2. "Nvidia Drivers"
  3. "Fonts"
  4. "APT, Mp3 and DVD Playback - Part I"
  5. "APT, Mp3 and DVD Playback - Part II"
  6. "Yes, it is still KDE - Part I"
  7. "Yes, it is still KDE - Part II"
  8. "Red Hat Ambition, Modified KDE"
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