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How to get a “Gnome-like” overview mode in KDE Plasma with qOverview

Those who love the look of Gnome Shell but want a better, more feature-filled setup should consider switching to KDE Plasma, especially since software like qOverview exists. qOverview is a piece of software that lets users experience a “Gnome-like” overview in KDE Plasma 5.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to set up qOverview, how to use it and recreate a fully functional Gnome desktop in KDE!

Note: please understand that qOverview is highly experimental software. It may not run correctly on your system! Use it at your own risk!

Install qOverview

The developer has qOverview on GitLab, and it’s the only way to install it. To get it, you’ll need to clone the source code directly from the internet. However, before we do that, some dependencies need to be installed.

If you do not use Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora or OpenSUSE, you’ll need to install the dependencies manually. Head over to this page to learn what they are.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install python3-pyqt5 python3-pyqt5.qtquick python3-dbus python3-yaml wmctrl

Debian

sudo apt-get install python3-pyqt5 python3-pyqt5.qtquickwmctrl

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S python-pyqt5 python-dbus python-yaml wmctrl

Fedora

sudo dnf install python3-PyQt5 python3-dbus wmctrl

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install python3-qt5 python-dbus python3-PyYAML python3-PyYAML wmctrl

With the dependencies taken care of, it’s time to start the building process. Follow the steps below to build the software.

Step 1: Clone the source code to your Linux PC using the git clone command.

git clone https://gitlab.com/bharadwaj-raju/qOverview.git

Step 2: Move the terminal session from its current directory (your home folder) into the qOverview code folder with the CD command.

cd qOverview

Step 3: Install the qOverview software on your Linux PC with the included script file. Be sure to run it with either sudo or su, or the code may not work.

sudo ./install.sh

Autostart qOverview

qOverview needs to be set to start automatically, or it will not work correctly. To automatically start it, you’ll need to work with the systemd init system, by creating a custom service file. In a terminal window, use the touch command to create a new file, then open it up in the Nano text editor.

sudo -s

touch /etc/systemd/system/qoverview.service

nano /etc/systemd/system/qoverview.service

Paste the following code for the new qOverview service file in the Nano, text editor:

[Unit]
Description=Spark service

[Service]
ExecStart=/usr/bin/qoverview.sh

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Save the service file with the Ctrl + O keyboard combination. Then, use touch and echo to create the startup component of the service.

touch /usr/bin/qoverview.sh
echo '#!/bin/bash' >> /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

echo ' ' >> /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

echo 'qoverview-config-server' >> /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

Update the permissions of the script file using the chmod command.

sudo chmod u+x /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

Enable the new systemd entry file using the systemctl commands below.

sudo systemctl enable qoverview.service
sudo systemctl start qoverview.service

If the service starts successfully, qOverview will always be running on your system.

Configure qOverview

The qOverview software is running in the background, thanks to a custom systemd service. The next step is to set the software so that we can recreate the Gnome Shell desktop. In a terminal, run the qoverview-config-server command.

qoverview-config-server

Pay attention to the terminal prompt when this command runs, as qOverview will scan your system and set up a new Gnome-like desktop for you. If it fails, read the errors and re-run it. Then, after the configuration command finishes up, return to your terminal window and run the command below.

qoverview-config-server >/dev/null 2>&1 & disown

Running the qoverview-config-server in this way allows users to keep the qOverview server running in the background without keeping a terminal window open.

qOverview on KDE Plasma

Now that all the technical stuff is taken care of, we can use the qOverview software and get the Gnome-like overview mode in KDE we wanted. Access qOverview for the first time in KDE Plasma by pressing Alt + F2 on the keyboard. Type in the qoverview command. Running it will automatically start up a new “Gnome-like” overview mode you can use!

Note: qOverview has trouble working with custom KDE Plasma 5 themes. We highly recommend setting this software up with the default “Breeze” theme. Head over here to learn how to change KDE Plasma themes!

qoverview

Add custom items to the dock

Looking to add custom items to the qOverview dock? Open the config file in Nano.

nano ~/.config/qoverview.yaml

Scroll down to “dock-items” and write in the name of the applications you’d like to add. Then, press Ctrl + O to save, and Ctrl + X to exit.

Learn more about qOverview

The qOverview software has a lot of options and features. In this article, we’ve gone over the basics. Want to know more about it? Head over to the official development page. It has lots of information, like binding screen edges, adding custom items to the desktop and more! Alternatively, read the included README that comes with the code, by typing the following:

cat ~/qOverview/README.md

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