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How to speed up the KDE Plasma 5 Desktop

KDE Plasma 5 is a beautiful desktop environment. It has a lot of graphical effects that make it stand out, and for this reason, many users agree that it is one of the best-looking desktops on all of Linux. However, that beauty takes a considerable toll on system resources, and as a result, many users aren’t able to enjoy the desktop to its potential.

If you’re frustrated with how KDE runs on your Linux PC, we can help! Follow along as we show you how to speed up the KDE Plasma 5 desktop!

Update KDE Plasma 5

With each release, KDE Plasma 5 gets performance improvements. So, if you’ve run into issues with the KDE desktop environment running poorly, the first thing you should do is check for updates. It’s very likely that your Linux operating system has a fresh new release of KDE ready for you with fixes, performance improvements, and more!

Not sure how to update your operating system on KDE Plasma? Here’s how!

Step 1: Press the windows key on your keyboard and type “Discover” in the search box. Then, launch the app with the blue shopping-bag icon.

Step 2: In the Discover application, look to the bottom-left of the window for “Updates” and click on it to get to the system upgrade area for KDE.

Step 3: Upgrade your KDE Plasma 5 desktop (and Linux OS as a whole) by locating the “Update All” button.

Using a Linux distribution that doesn’t regularly get updates? Ditch the KDE-based Linux distribution you are currently using for KDE Neon. It’s a Linux-system based on Ubuntu that delivers fresh updates to the KDE Plasma desktop on a stable LTS base. It always gets the latest stuff, so you’ll always see performance updates from the KDE team! To learn more about Neon, click here.

Tweak desktop effects

One of the most common reasons that KDE Plasma 5 slows down on low-resource computers is the graphical effects. They take a significant toll on system resources (mainly your GPU). So, a quick way to speed up the KDE Plasma 5 desktop is to drastically reduce or turn off fancy graphical effects off on the desktop.

To disable graphical effects in KDE Plasma, press the Windows key on the keyboard and type in “Effects.” Launch the application that has the label “Desktop Effects.”

Once in the desktop effects area, you’ll be able to see a lot of the graphical effects that the KDE Plasma 5 system uses. Scroll through and uncheck the boxes next to all of the enabled effects and you should see a slight increase in speed and performance.

Disable compositing

Composite effects are stunning on KDE. They add shadow and depth to your applications. These effects also add a beautiful translucent effect on open windows (when you drag them) and other attractive effects.

It should go without saying but these composite effects play a big part in making KDE Plasma slow, especially on low-end computers. Thankfully, the KDE developers make it very easy to disable compositing!

To disable composite effects, press the Windows key and search for “Composite.” An app icon labeled “Compositor” should appear. Click on it, and you’ll be brought to the Plasma desktop’s composite settings.

Inside the Compositor window, uncheck the box next to “Enable compositor on startup.” Then, click the “Apply” button, close the window and reboot your PC. When you log back in, compositing effects will be disabled, speeding things up.

Uninstall Akonadi

KDE has a central database system known as Akonadi. It’s a robust service, and it helps many applications access information on the Plasma desktop. While you won’t notice Akonadi running in the background on KDE if you have decent computer specs, those with low-end machines may notice it is slowing down their KDE session at times.

Uninstalling Akonadi and disabling the database system is very easy, but differs depending on what Linux distribution you are using. To disable the service, open up a terminal window and follow the command instructions that correspond with the OS you’re using.

Note: uninstalling Akonadi will also uninstall KDE programs that are dependent on it.

Ubuntu

sudo apt remove akonadi --purge

Debian

sudo apt-get remove akonadi --purge

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -Rsc akonadi

Fedora

sudo dnf remove akonadi

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper remove akonadi

Swap window managers (optional)

The Window Manager plays a huge role in how heavy a desktop environment is. On KDE, the window manager isn’t bloated per-say. However, replacing it will make a big difference in memory, GPU, and CPU usage so it’s a good idea to swap it out for something leaner if you need to.

Openbox is an ideal replacement window manager to combine with KDE Plasma. Best of all, the developers of Openbox provide a KDE/Openbox session, so there’s no configuration required! To get your lean KDE/Openbox session, open up a terminal window and follow the instructions next to the Linux OS you run Plasma on.

Note: swapping out the KDE window manager for Openbox should only be done if you’ve gone through this list and still find yourself with a slow KDE session.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install openbox openbox-kde-session

Debian

sudo apt-get install openbox openbox-kde-session

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S openbox

Fedora

sudo dnf install openbox-kde

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install openbox-kde

Log into KDE/Openbox

To log into your new KDE/Openbox session, click on the KDE application menu and then click the button to log out. Once your session has closed, you’ll see the login screen. On the login screen, locate “session” and click the drop-down menu next to it to reveal the desktop sessions that are available, then, select “KDE/Openbox”.

After selecting the “KDE/Openbox” option, click on your user and enter your password to log in. When you finish logging in, you’ll see the KDE Plasma 5 desktop, but with Openbox, a much lighter window manager.

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