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April 6, 2008

Put intrusive KDE4 apps in their place

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If you've installed KDE4 -- the whole shebang in one fell swoop with "sudo aptitude install kde4" (on Ubuntu) -- you'll have noticed that the environment insists that you use the new-and-improved "KDE4-ready" apps. These apps have package names like "kopete-kde4" and "ark-kde4". However, newer is not always better. Maybe the new version, using the new Qt4 widgets, doesn't have as "clean" an interface as the old version -- Konqueror a case in point, though more due to its changed interface than the use of Qt4. Or another small example: kopete (kde3 version) supports IRC chat, while kopete-kde4 seemingly does not. Yet whenever I type "kopete" at the command line or, more commonly, when it opens at startup, kopete-kde4 pops up. Either way, gimme my old app!

Turns out that part of the KDE4 install process adds a path to the beginning of your PATH variable, /usr/lib/kde4/bin. This is where all the "xxxxxx-kde4" apps reside, ready to spring to life when you type their name. Putting the KDE4 apps aside and bringing the older, more familiar versions to the forefront is a simple matter of renaming and symlinking.

For this example, we'll use Kopete. First, move the offending KDE4 version out of the way; execute the following command: $ sudo mv /usr/lib/kde4/bin/kopete /usr/lib/kde4/bin/kopete-kde4 This renames the program to "kopete-kde4", so you can still start the program if you need to. Next, we symlink (create a shortcut to) the "standard" kopete: $ sudo ln -s /usr/bin/kopete /usr/lib/kde4/bin/ This basically says "create a soft link to /usr/bin/kopete in the /usr/lib/kde4/bin directory". The resulting link file will also be named kopete, letting you call the KDE3 version normally.

While this method works well for smaller apps (Kopete, Konsole, etc), I haven't been able to trust it with more essential programs, such as KDM. KDM has been especially annoying; supposedly you can configure it to use the old KDM by running "sudo dpkg-reconfigure kdm" and choosing "kdm" from the menu, but this hasn't worked for me, and I've tried several times.

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