How To Get KDE 5 Plasma to Have Separate Wallpapers and Separate Widgets

Of all the gripes most frequently expressed about KDE 5, is that USERS were no longer to have separate Virtual Desktops each with its own Wallpaper and its own set of Widgets. In KDE 4.14 it was a piece of cake: You GoTo the Application Launcher => Settings => System Settings => Workspace Behavior Click on it. GoTo Virtual Desktops => Enter the # of Virtual Desktops you want to Create => Enter the # of Rows ==> Then MOST IMPORTANTLY CHECK THE BOX THAT SAYS: DIFFERENT WIDGETS FOR EACH DESKTOP. Clean, Clear, and Simple.

In KDE 5 Plasma… The KDE 5 “team” openly REFUSED to create this simple utility, no matter how many complaints they received… and they received a LOT of complaints, not just from me but a lot of other people, if the comments are any guide. While KDE pulled the plug on KDE 4, at version 4.14.x. when it was a Highly Polished DE KDE 5 is at last seen now at KDE 5.23.0… and they are still stomping out bugs – some that are MAJOR. Nor was that the worst of KDE 5’s deficiencies. While KDE 4 had many YouTube Videos showing individuals HOW TO USE some particular feature/s, plus manuals to boot, here we are at KDE 5.23.0 any YouTube videos that are out there are more REVIEWS than anything – few are actual HOW TO videos. HowTo manuals are almost non existent. Every 6 months or so I would check back in to see if KDE 5 had at last enabled the USER to have any number of Virtual Desktops Each with its own Wallpaper and each with its own set of Widgets. I have, and comments I have read online, been bitching up a Blue Streak and the KDE team from implementing a feature that MANY “USERS” WANT!! Somewhere around KDE 5.15 when I pressed them on this they replied that you could do it via “ACTIVITIES”, – not via VIRTUAL DESKTOPS, but via ACTIVITIES, a concept that KDE has been pushing since KDE 4, but without much success mainly because the Virtual Desktop proved so POPULAR – but without much explanation.

Like it or not, IF you are going to continue to use KDE you are stuck with that bug infested hot mess called KDE 5 Plasma (now at 5.23.0) – that or switch to something like Cinnamon. No, not KDE but a rather lightweight DE, and like KDE you are stuck with the same Wallpaper and same set of Widgets.

The commentary, minus any sort of explanation that you could have something like an Virtual Desktop but using “Activities”, a concept I do not understand, but this spurred me on to try and Reverse Engineer KDE 4.6’s crude Virtual Desktop each with a separate Wallpaper and own set of Widgets.

After a number of tries I ended up with with 6 (now 10) “Activities” Each had its own Wallpaper and own set of Widgets and you could switch between them but not down on the task bar. A PITA but I could work it then the final piece of the puzzle fell into place when I saw this video:

He got to the exact same place I had gotten. He still had the same problem of having the same Widgets carry over from one Activity to another, but you could have separate widgets on different backgrounds and figured out to to get them to the Task Bar where they would appear just as though they were Virtual Desktops!! I had done this with openSUSE 15.3 Leap that uses KDE as its DEFAULT DE, where Red Hat and RHEL uses GNOME as its DE.

openSUSE 15.3 Leap has a more recent everything than RHEL. Yes, I could install KDE on CentOS 8.3, but which version of KDE was the question.

openSUSE uses KDE 5.18.6, KDE Framework 5.76.0, QT Version 5.12.7 and Kernel 5.3.18.

CentOS 8.4 uses KDE 5.18.4 – pretty close – Framework 5.68.0 – a little further back – QT version 5.12.5 – pretty close again — the Kernel however in CentOS 8.4 is 4.18.0 – 305.10.2.

Conclusion: openSUSE 15.3 Leap is close enough to CentOS 8.4 that I should be able to – and was successful – in creating qusi Virtual Desktops with Separate Wallpapers and separate Widgets. Here is a Step - by - Step guide to creating them:


I: First you need to Download and Install KDE 5 Plasma for CentOS 8.4 ver. 5.18.4

NOTE: In addition you might want to install ElRepo FIRST before you install EPEL

II: Assuming you have successfully installed KDE after the install and after updating CentOS 8 [dnf update] I usually reboot the entire machine. When it asks you to login you will see a gear or cog. Click on it and it will show you the various GUI’s you have installed. One of them will be Plasma . Select this, and exit back to to the login page. Enter your Secret Sauce Password and you will be Welcomed to the KDE 5 Desktop.

III: Unlike GNOME the power of the KDE desktop is the Panel at the very bottom of the Desktop. The Panel is where you can load any number of useful program “Widgets”. You can also also add these “Widgets” to the desktop as well. The Panel is also where your Virtual Desktops would go in KDE 4.xy. Depending on how many Virtual Desktops you have on the Panel, you can do any number of projects all at once. In KDE 4.xy all you had to due was to click on the Virtual Desktop on the Panel to switch to that Desktop’s Project. Then came KDE 5 and screwed everything up. Now it is about “Activities” and trying to replicate what use to be an EASY process. Just as in KDE 4.x, the icon on the far LEFT side is the APPLICATION LAUNCHER aloso in KDE 5.x Plasma. You will have to REPLICATE each of the following steps n times for EACH of your “Activities” be it one or 10… n times.

IV: Now would be a good time to Download a raft of WALLPAPERS. To Download WALLPAPERS click anywhere on the DESKTOP and you will get a Drop-Down Menu. And the VERY BOTTOM is a selection that says CONFIGURE DESKTOP => Click on this => You will get another Drop-Down Menu the Header says " Desktop Settings – Plasma " You will see two options. The First says WALLPAPERS (What you are interested in) and the Second says Mouse Actions. GoTo WALLPAPERS => Get New Wallpapers => => => Have a party and download as many Wallpapers that float your boat.

NOTE: We will be coming back here later.

Step 1: Click anywhere on the DESKTOP proper and you will get a DROP-DOWN MENU. Click on the Icon that says ACTIVITIES.

Step 2: If you have been successful you will be greeted with a list of ACTIVITIES each with its own WALLPAPER.

Step 3: At the very BOTTOM you will see something that says " + CREATE ACTIVITY " Click on it.

Step 4: You will get another Drop-Down Menu. The Title Bar will say: “Create a New Activity – Plasma” Underneath that is a tab that “General” and under General is something that says “Name” – I usually put something like Act (tivity) 1… Act(ivity) n so I can keep track of these – and underneath that is a box that says “Description” which I usually leave blank. Under that is a Heading that says PRIVACY: and a Check Box that says " DO NOT TRACK USUAGE FOR THIS ACTIVITY" CHECK THIS BOX!!! Under that is Something that says “Shortcut for Switching” and the default is None.

Step 5:

My way of using this feature was to dedicate one Virtual Desktop with its own set of icons to a given activity. So VD 1 is dedicated to Science related projects; VD 2 to Internet and stuff VD 3 to Writing and Graphics m VD 4 & 5 to the CLI, etc., etc., etc. I have 10 Virtual Desktops installed but because I have a second monitor in essence I have 20 Virtual Desktops!! When writing I frequently use the second monitor as an overflow monitor so I might be writing something or another, I’ll have some source reference, which I will “slide” over to the second monitor, then open a second version of the writing app which is where I’ll be doing my writing. Combined with “Tabs” in Firefox I have access to several sources all going on at once. If my sister calls and needs help with her Windows 10 machine I simply move to the Virtual Desktop dedicated to Virtual Machines, fire up the Win 10 VM, and help her resolve her problem, and after that I can switch back to the Virtual Desktop I was working before she called – still open!!.