Friday, October 29, 2010

My favorite KDE Plasma desktop themes

I have noticed some interest in finding out more about how I customize my KDE desktops lately, so I thought I would put together a brief article on an element that I consider quite important to make a KDE desktop look beautiful: Plasma desktop themes.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, plasma desktop themes deal with anything from the menu panel to dialogs, widgets, etc. Each one of those themes has different properties, colors, textures and levels of transparency that artists tweak. Choosing the right theme will play an important role in creating a beautiful desktop, specially if many widgets are visible on the desktop.

Today I am going to share my favorite plasma themes along with some recommendations on how to get the most out of their qualities.


A nice whitey theme with lots of transparency, it is perfect for plain dark backgrounds. It is important to understand that widgets with high levels of transparency don't get along well with busy backgrounds, specially if there is a lot going on below the widget itself. The combination of both usually results in overcrowded desktops that users quickly grow tired of.

The idea is to combine backgrounds and widgets so each complements the strengths of the other. In this case, the background is mostly plain, showing different tones of gray over a subtly textured surface. As can be seen, the dark background helps widgets stand out and their text is legible. On the other hand, the center of the background is busier, so it makes sense to leave it clean so the artist work can truly shine.

Click on Image to enlarge.


A dark theme this time. Transparency levels are less exaggerated, which provides more room to play around with different backgrounds. Having said so, the default KDE background works out perfect this time. It is not particularly busy, but it is bright enough to make those widgets get their share of limelight.

Click on Image to enlarge.


This one I am using as I type these lines, very cool theme indeed. Transparency levels are taken to the extreme and the shining widgets do convey a bit of a "liquid" nature to them. Once again, the same concepts that applied for the Air theme are good for this one. If anything, it is even more important to make sure that nothing below the widgets gets in the way of making text legible.

This theme's weak spot is also its strength. The extreme transparency that makes it look amazing, also makes certain dialogs impossible to read when a white background is below them. The problem is that does happen quite often when you are running applications such as Internet browsers, which predominantly get white or very clear web pages.

Click on Image to enlarge.


Back to dark tones for this one, we see that transparency levels are once again under manageable levels. The concepts that applied for Kaleban apply here as well. In fact, the screenshot below is a good example of a colorful and somewhat busy background working out very well in combination with this Plasma theme.

Click on Image to enlarge.


The default KDE theme is also a great example of a beautiful whitish theme. Having said so, it's transparency levels are lower than H2O and G-Remix, so we have more room for experimentation with backgrounds. This time around I chose a busier background which still is pretty homogeneous in color.

Click on Image to enlarge.


KDE is a great environment to play with from a Look&Feel standpoint. The combinations available are almost endless, so just play around with them and have fun at it. In the meantime, I hope you liked my (current) favorite themes and that the recommendations I shared help you get busy with your own creations.



  1. Can you please post the download links for these wonderful themes..

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Hey, thanks to you!

    Well, there is really nothing to post here, all those themes I downloaded from the theme manager that's part of KDE. Just find the highest rated themes and keep scrolling down! ;-)

  3. I use KDE on all our computers and my desktops look noting like yours.
    Which the whole point, the desktop reflects what YOU want, not someone else.
    I hate panels since forever so my side and bottom panels all disappear and my virtual desktops all have different widgets, work, play, etc.
    And you should see my folks... the taskbar is about 2inches high using 18pt fonts (bold) for better visibility. No UI queen would like this but its far more useful to my parents than the invisible defaults where you need 40/20 vision.

    Again, its THEIR choice and therefore its THE BEST desktop possible.

    Dekstop wallaper that change are a feature that most people I know just love. I have mine setup on 10mins and it takes from folders that have beautiful KDE/FLOSS wallpapers, another virtual desktop that takes from our recent family photos.

  4. You can also search for those themes in the theme manager if you don't want to scroll. :)

  5. Hello,
    This is really looking very interesting.... Thanks a lot for the share.... Keep posting.