How-To Geek

Install KDE (Kubuntu) on Ubuntu

The Ubuntu default desktop uses the Gnome window manager, which can be a difficult transition for Windows users. The KDE desktop would be a lot more familiar to Windows users, as KDE has something comparable to the start menu.

If you’ve already installed Ubuntu, and you don’t want to completely reinstall with Kubuntu, you can just install the KDE window manager by installing the kubuntu-desktop package along with its dependencies.

You can install kubuntu using the GUI tools, but the easiest way is to open a terminal window, and type in the following command:

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

You will be prompted for your password, and then you will be prompted again asking if you really want to install. Hit the Y key to proceed, and let the install begin.

Downloading all of the updates can take a while, so you might want to get a cup of coffee or something. You will be prompted to select the login manager, which you can select as either gdm (ubuntu) or kdm (kde). I decided to leave the default gdm.

Reboot the computer, and when you get to the login prompt, click the Options button in the lower left hand corner:

You will be prompted to select the Session that you want. Here we will click KDE to continue.

Login, and you should now see the KDE desktop! All of the applications are found in the “Start”-like menu, as you can see:

Note: If you are running Ubuntu inside VMware and end up with some really strange display issues where the display resolution is really huge but the desktop is showing up in 800×600 instead (see screenshot), there is a fix for this.

When I experienced this problem, I was also unable to use the mouse. I rebooted, and logged back into the Ubuntu desktop instead of KDE, and went into the /etc/X11/ directory.

You will probably see that your xorg.conf file was backed up to xorg.conf.1 during the KDE / Kubuntu installation. Just copy the xorg.conf.1 back to xorg.conf, reboot, and everything should be fine.

Again, don’t mess with the xorg.conf file unless you are actually experiencing this problem.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/21/06

Comments (36)

  1. hafiz

    tanx for the cleen explanation .but,i just want to know from where can i down load kde window manager for ubuntu 6.06

  2. The Geek

    You should be able to follow these same instructions for Dapper (6.06), although I haven’t specifically tested on that version.

    If you are looking for Kubuntu cds to install that directly, you can get them here:

  3. Pradeep

    I am not sure whether I should be submitting this here. Anyway, What if I have a very slow internet connection and I would like to know how much MB/GB does installing KDE on top of UBUNTU would download? Is there an alternative version which can be installed by copying contents from a CD? If so, then where to get the files to be installed.

  4. Ravi


    Get a friend to download the package files of kubuntu-desktop off synaptic. (they can do this by selecting the ‘Download Package files only’ option from the summary page) Once he/she has given you these via cd, usb drive or any other means of transfer, you can install those on your computer. Alternatively, you could remove your Ubuntu GNOME installation and order a Kubuntu CD.

    Hope that helps,


  5. Reisa

    Great advice — easy and got the KDE desktop for me. But GNOME is still my preferred desktop, and the KDE manager install changed the “loading” screen from “Ubuntu” to “Kubuntu” … that is – when I start the system up or shut it down — I get the “Kubuntu” logo and progress bar, instead of the one for “Ubuntu.” Everything loads and runs fine — just this one niggling aesthetic flaw. Is there an easy way to get my “Ubuntu” loading screen back? Thanks,


  6. Nill

    Same here. Many thanks for the workaround. Turned out to be perfect -and I did the same to get the xubuntu desktop and addons. However, I’d love to retrieve the Ubuntu loading back, instead of kubuntu. I guess it must be quite simple but as I’m quite new to Linux, I haven’t a clue how to do it.

  7. Jon Spark

    You can restore your Ubuntu boot splash theme by running:

    sudo update-alternatives –config

    Select the option for Ubuntu(/usr/lib/usplash/
    Thanks to for the info.

  8. nacero

    hi, is it possible to remove ubuntu after installing kubuntu. and how
    thank you

  9. O19

    You can’t remove Ubuntu, as it’s the kernel. You can remove the Gnome desktop, but if you only want the KDE desktop, then just get Kubuntu…

    Nice guide! :)

  10. DJ

    Suppose we have already installed Ubuntu, say version 7.04.
    Now we just need the KDE environment, as an option with the existing Gnome environment.
    Now, we have the installation (live) cds for both Ubuntu and Kubuntu.
    Is there some way we can just install the KDE environment, directly from the CD?
    I had tried doing that, couldnt do it. I’m a complete newbie, sorry for this question.

  11. Marko

    I have the same problem…

  12. chris

    Stick in the Kubuntu CD and type
    sudo apt-cdrom add
    Wait for it then type:
    sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop
    sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop (ONLY IF YOU DON’T WANT GNOME)

  13. SuAlfons

    Hmm, this won’t remove the Ubuntu (Gnome) Desktop in (K)Ubuntu 7.10. It will only delete the envelope-package called ubuntu-desktop. Do I have to manally uninstall all GNOME-related programs and libraries?? I hoped for a one-shot Gnome uninstall. I would be faster to re-install the very few GTK-programs (like Firefox) than o uninstall all others….


  14. Retief de Villiers

    I tried to run Kubuntu, after installing it this way, but it completely destroyed my WiFi capability and I could not access external USB hard drives any more. This is sad, because I really like the KDE interface and the larger selection of apps available, but for me it seems as though Kubuntu is still very much beta. I also tried Kubuntu natively from a live CD, but experienced the same problems.

  15. Jason

    Chris —

    “Stick in the Kubuntu CD and type
    sudo apt-cdrom add
    Wait for it then type:
    sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop
    sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop (ONLY IF YOU DON’T WANT GNOME)”

    Your method only works with the Alternate CD. Just FYI.

  16. Jake

    you probably want to use sudo aptitude kubuntu-desktop for a cleaner uninstall. If you use apt-get, you can’t remove everything as clean later.

  17. jamil

    inform me that if done this command than all existing softwere will be remove or not.
    if being remove than what can i do for not to do this.

    sudo apt-cdrom add
    sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

  18. Marc

    Funny, I am having the problem described above for KDE in Afterstep. I installed Ubuntu 8.04 in vmware fusion running on Leopard. The installation went beautifully and gnome is workingwith appropriate screen resolution. Afterstep installed fine using apt-get. However, the screen resolution is set to 800×600 and can’t be changed in the afterstep screen-resolution utility. I looked in /etc/X11 and unfortunately there is no saved xorg.conf1.

    Any suggestions on what to do at this point to get the appropriate screen resolution (1440×900) in afterstep would be most appreciated!!


  19. Reisa

    The step that restores the Ubuntu splash screen no longer seems to work for me, whereas it did in the past. I’ve recently built a new PC, installed Hardy Heron — first Ubuntu, then Kubuntu — then gone through the steps to revive the Ubuntu splash screen, but the Kubuntu screen is still there. Here’s what I see when I attempt to change it:

    There are 2 alternatives which provide `’.

    Selection Alternative
    * 1 /usr/lib/usplash/
    + 2 /usr/lib/usplash/

    Press enter to keep the default[*], or type selection number: 1
    Using ‘/usr/lib/usplash/’ to provide ‘’.

    I choose selection 1, but no matter what, the Kubuntu screen comes up when I boot. It’s not a MAJOR issue, just one of those things that gets under my skin. Any ideas?

  20. amabx1

    how do u undo/remove

    sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

  21. Gary Dee

    sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop


    sudo apt-get remove kubuntu-desktop

    depending on which you actually installed

  22. Guy Terreault

    i have dune all to remove Kubunu-desktop. But I still have the splash screen before the login.
    hoe to get back the ubuntu one

  23. wpd

    During the install of KDE, Ubuntu did not run inside VMware, but there was the strange display issue too. But it was useful to log back into the Ubuntu desktop instead of KDE. There was an item for hardware drivers somewhere in an entry of the applications menu. So I marked a checkbox to activate a graphics driver in there and booted into KDE. Now the resolution is ok.

  24. Gay Lord

    The translation of this page in danish is absolutely funny. :)

    Good job on the article tho.

  25. xyber

    nice info, thx bro

  26. kenny


  27. Alver

    Hi, I have Ubuntu 9.10 installed with automatic logon (since I’m the only person using this pc). Will I still have the choice of going for Ubuntu or Kubuntu??

    Thx for a possible reply.

  28. Dsto

    Hello Alver
    Options to select desktop at logon disappear. You might want to use timedlogin instead or remove the automaticlogin. Both values can be set in /etc/gdm/custom.conf (Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala):


  29. Alver

    Thx for your speedy reply. I will give it a try soon.

  30. calebstein

    Long live KDE!

  31. Kurt Feigel

    This was a great post. I needed to add just the KDE desktop to my laptop but couldn’t remember how. I also shared this with a friend. The terminal method was really easy. LINUX RULES!

  32. omagus

    thanks for share. i’ll try this with my karmic

  33. Pradyumna

    E: Internal Error, Could not perform immediate configuration (2) on mountall
    this is the i get message after downloading kde

  34. 116North

    Perfect for a linux newbie like me. Thanks!

  35. Doug

    Uh, all it does when I launch any kubuntu app is say it cannot write to the configuration files. They are not there. I cannot uninstall all this crap one by one and fix it. I spent over a week getting this system up and running. People really ought to know it is not smart to try and do this. All I got is a bunch of damn clutter now.

  36. Ivan Rios

    I removed Kubuntu desktop from my Ubuntu install and everything is fine except that I still see the mouse arrow and animated cursors. I tried changing the mouse pointer back to the default in appearance, but it never changes. Any suggestions.


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