Setting up KDE 3 on NetBSD

Introduction

Like most other Unix(TM)-like operating systems, the K Desktop Environment (KDE) is also available for NetBSD. KDE is a powerful graphical desktop environment based upon Trolltech's QT library, and is similar to other desktop environments available for Unix(TM) workstations, such as the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) or GNOME. It tries to combine ease of use, contemporary functionality, and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of the Unix operating system. Like NetBSD itself, KDE is also an Internet project and is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), and is therefore open source software.

Installation

It is quite easy to install the latest KDE 3 on a NetBSD system using either binary packages or building it from pkgsrc. As I wrote this, there were no official KDE 3 binary packages available on the ftp servers and I didn't have the space and bandwidth to put my packages online :-(. It would be nice, if someone could provide me with a few 100MB of web/ftp space to put my packages on, so that everyone reading this could use these packages.

If you are not lucky to fetch some binary packages for KDE 3, then you should fetch a recent pkgsrc from NetBSD-current (must be a post 20020830) and start building KDE from scratch. Therefore you should change to the directory x11/kde3 in your pkgsrc tree and start by typing make install. NOTE: Before starting to install KDE 3, you should remove any installed KDE package and the installed QT packages (if they're older than 3.0.5), and do a make clean on your pkgsrc tree, else the installation might fail. After starting the installation process, you'll need to wait up to 3 days, until the installation is complete, depending on the hardware of your machine. You might want to speed up the installation process by mounting the filesystem that contains the pkgsrc tree with the async option; e.g. type mount -u -o async /usr/pkgsrc, but beware, that mounting a filesystem asyncronous may have a bad effect on your data if the computer crashes. So, you have been warned, use this option at your own risk.

Postinstallation

Now, that KDE 3 is installed properly, all you need to do, is setup your X session to start KDE 3. Therefore edit (maybe create) the file .xsession in your home directory and put in the following lines:

#!/bin/sh
export PATH=/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/pkg/bin:/usr/pkg/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/X11R6/bin
exec /usr/X11R6/bin/startkde

Then mark the file executable by typing chmod +x $HOME/.xsession, login as usual with xdm and feel happy about your new and fancy KDE desktop :-).

If you're using startx instead of xdm, you need to edit the file .xinitrc in your home directory instead.

Using antialiased fonts

You might also want to get KDE rendering those nice fonts you saw on all those screenshots all over the web. Therefore you'll need to have XFree86 version 4.x installed (this is the default for NetBSD 1.6 and above). Then you need to install some nice looking TrueType or Type1 fonts, therefore you can use the freely available webfonts provided by Microsoft, simply install the fonts/ms-ttf package and the fonts/ttmkfdir package. Then goto /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType and type:

$ ttmkfdir > fonts.scale
$ mkfontdir

After that add the following line to your /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/XF86Config-4 in the Files section

FontPath "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType/"

and

dir "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType"

to your /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/XftConfig. Logout from your X session and restart your X server by hitting CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE at your xdm login prompt. Relogin to your KDE desktop and enable "Use Anti-Aliasing for fonts" in the KDE control center; logout again and relogin, and choose some nice antialiased fonts (the ones with the [Xft] in the name) for your desktop. Enjoy! ;-).

Feedback

I hope you liked my little KDE 3 HowTo and I would be pleased to get some good (or even bad ;-) feedback from you. If you have any problems or questions on this topic, I'll try to help you getting things to work.

Published: 2002-10-28