Tip of the day: Hack your dashboard

June 2, 2010

So I have switched to KDE SC 4.5 Beta 1 on my production systems now. This is about the perfect time to play with the system a bit. And looking at my mostly empty Plasma dashboard, I figured that the Search & Launch interface (as known from Plasma netbook) would fit in there quite well.

Looking around, there is no configuration interface to configure the dashboard (apart from the “Show desktop widgets” vs. “Show an independent widget set” option), but the code reveals that the dashboard is just another containment, so one should be able to replace it. And yes, there is a way to do so:

  1. Set the aforementioned option (which you find in System Settings in the workspace options) to “Show an independent widget set”.
  2. Run “kquitapp plasma-desktop” (e.g. from KRunner) to shutdown Plasma. I had to do this multiple times because Plasma restarted automatically (which IMO should not happen with kquitapp).
  3. Open plasma-desktop-appletsrc in a text editor. If you do not know where to look for this file, use the following command in a terminal to find it: kde4-config --path config --locate plasma-desktop-appletsrc
  4. Now search for the line “Plugin=desktopDashboard”, and change it into “Plugin=sal” if you want the Search & Launch interface on the dashboard. For the folder view, use “Plugin=folderview”. For the newspaper activity, use “Plugin=newspaper”.
  5. Save and restart plasma-desktop (e.g. by typing this into KRunner).

There are some usability glitches, though, because Search&Launch was not exactly prepared for this usecase: For example, I’m badly missing keyboard navigation features.

P.S. There’s a feature request on b.k.o to make configuring this easier. Vote on it if you like this.

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9 Responses to “Tip of the day: Hack your dashboard”


  1. very cool! newspaper fits like a glove.

  2. Ernesto Manríquez Says:

    Great idea, but it crashes when I try to right click in the Dashboard with the newspaper plugin.


  3. Nice, thanks for sharing this.

  4. marco Says:

    WOW!!!
    Is it possible on kde SC 4.4?

    • marco Says:

      Yes the procedure is quite different:
      first of all you should find the containment of your dashboard… find it into plasma-desktop-appletrc and substitue plugin=desktop voice with plugin=sal 😀

  5. mutlu Says:

    Why don’t you ask on plasma-devel, whether such a feature would be appreciated by the plasma team (i.e. fits into their vision) and, if yes, make a simple configuration dialog (aka KCM)? I think this may be a more proper first step than letting the public vote on a bug.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Stefan Majewsky Says:

      I thought about this alternative, too, but that requires myself to do the work, and my todo list is already very long (even if limited to hacking stuff).

      My hope is that the publication of this feature request spawns interest from some developer, or someone who wants to enter KDE development and just looks for the right opportunity.

      • mutlu Says:

        Sounds reasonable. 🙂

        It is indeed a wonderful use for the dashboard. I am glad you figured out how to do this. Surely, someone will take your hack further.

  6. glad Says:

    Thanks for sharing this tip! I voted for your bug report.

    Running kquitapp plasma-desktop once is sufficient in KDE 4.4.2 and several previous versions on Kubuntu and Arch. Maybe there is a bug in KDE 4.5 beta 1 which causes plasma-desktop to crash on exit.


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