kde4win.jpgKDE (K Desktop Environment) is one of the most common desktop environments used under Linux and Unix systems. Apparently it has reached version 4. KDE4 is based on Qt4 which is also released under the GPL for Windows and Mac OS X. Therefore KDE 4 applications can be compiled and run natively on these operating systems as well. The centerpiece is a redesigned desktop and panels collectively called Plasma which replaces Kicker, KDesktop, and SuperKaramba by integrating their functionality into one piece of technology.

In this tutorial I will show you how to install and run KDE4 applications natively on Windows. Windows 2000, XP, and Vista are supported. Of course since this project is still beta some applications may not work correctly or even may not work at all. However it is a very promising project that will allow Windows users run Linux applications. KOffice, Kopete, Amarok, Ktorrent, Konquerror, KDevelop, K3b, Kmail, Dolphin are only some of them. Trust me, the list of Qt applications is very big!

To get started click on the following link to download KDE Installer for Windows . Here click on kdewin-installer-gui-0.9.3-1.exe (1) (or the latest one) and select Save.


When the download completes click the Run button.


You may get a Security Warning. Just click again the Run button


KDE installer should start. The installation process is quite simple as you will see. If this is the first time you run this wizard click Next (1). However you can use this wizard at any time to add, remove or upgrade KDE packages. In that case check the box next to 'go directly to the download server page, skip basic settings' (2).

Now you must choose a directory in which all applications packages will be stored. Here i have chosen C:\KDE4. Click Next.

In the next screen you must select the mode the installer should work. Since you just want to run KDE applications leave the default 'End User' option selected. Click Next.

Next you must select the directory where downloaded packages are stored. Here I have again chosen C:\KDE4.

Configuring Internet Settings is next. The default option 'I have direct connection to the Internet' should be ok. If it isn't I guess you already know what the other options are and which one to use.

After that you must select the server from where you want to download all packages. You 'd better choose the location which0 is closer to you.

Currently 4.1.0 stable release is available and it's the one we want. So just click Next.

Next select the packages you want to be installed. For start you can select all of them and play a little. There are many games included in the kdegames package. ;) If you prefer another language than English don't forget to select the appropriate language package also. Besides at any time you can install/uninstall any package simply by running this installer again.

The next screen shows you additional packages that must be installed as dependencies. Just click Next.

Now sit back and wait till the installation process completes!

In case you have chosen oggvorbis for installation a window will pop-up. Here click the I Agree button.


At some point Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable will be automatically installed. Depending on your Internet Connection the installation will complete sooner or later.

Now you must configure Windows environment variables in order to run KDE applications. Right click on My Computer icon on your Desktop. Go to the Advanced tab and click on the Environment Variables button. Click New (1) and set KDEDIRS as Variable name (2) and C:\KDE4 as Variable value (3). Click Ok.


Under System Variables find the Path variable (1) and click the Edit button (2).


A new window will pop up. Here at the end of the Variable value add

And click Ok.


Now under Start menu -> KDE 4.1.00 release you can find all KDE4 applications and utilities. In the screenshot below you can see KolourPaint, Amarok 2, Dolphin, Kopete and Kcalc all running natively under Windows XP!

Set oxygen style for widgets

The default KDE widget style on Windows is the native one. However you can use KDE4 Oxygen style theme. Go to C:\Documents and Settings\your_user\.kde\share\config and select to open kdeglobals with Wordpad.

In that file paste the following lines:


If [General] section already exists just paste widgetStyle=oxygen below it. Save and exit. Newly started applications should be displayed with Oxygen style now.

Change the mouse to Double Click

To change the mouse to use double click:

Add a new section with a line:

Newly started applications (Dolphin and Konqueror) should use double click now.

Change locale and country settings

To change locale setting:

Add a new section with the line:

Replace ** with your lowercase alpha-2 country code . Of course, during the installation process you should have installed your language localization package.

Change native KDE file dialogs

To choose native or KDE file dialog:

Add a new section with the lines:

[KFileDialog Settings]
Either set Native to true or false.


KDE on Windows seems a very good and very promising effort on nativelly porting KDE applications on MS Windows. Maybe this will become a reason for more Windows users to try the real thing, which is a Linux distribution of course. Please do not use the comment function to ask for help! Have fun!

Comments (1)

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Shows promise, but not ready for the prime time
Whilst I abhor explorer as a shell, I have to admit that KDE (the K Desktop ENVIRONMENT) does not supply a reasonable shell -- as yet. Plasma can be set as the shell, but falls down in a number of areas:
1) No systray support -- odd, when amarok EXPECTS a systray to be present: clicking the close button on amarok causes it to stay in the systray only -- not quit.
2) No support for changing system colors. You either have to take the default "looks like a pale version of windows 95" or the light Oxygen style, in their original colors. Too bad for anyone with other requirements or sensitive eyes. Also, this means that K apps don't fit AT ALL with your win32 apps. Take a tip from the gtk+ guys: make the default theme one that looks like everything else on the system.
3) SLOW. Like cancer. Or treacle. Or cancer IN treacle. K apps take inordinate amounts of time to start. Plasma is no exception, wasting about a minute to get up -- and that without starting any of my autorun applications. Sure, exploder sucks, but the shell is up in about 5 seconds and becomes responsive after about a minute when all my autorun applications have started.
4) No windows menu integration. Seriously? No-one bothered to even write an import tool for the windows menu? Does the K team honestly expect that I won't have an application which is not from KDE? There typically is an auto-import tool. It's another disappointment, since it found nothing that I had installed on my system.

All-in-all, the KDE windows project is still VERY alpha. It's nowhere near something which I would recommend to a friend. It's nowhere near being actually useful, unless you have a specific (and short-lived) need for a certain K application.

The windows KDE project really got my hopes up -- for nothing.
Daf , January 29, 2009

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