HOW-TO: KDE 3.5 on 12.3

Windows escapee? Need a light and uncomplicated desktop? This write-up outlines the procedure for a from-scratch, basic install of KDE 3.5 on openSuse 12.3, to which you can add your favourite applications. A “kitchen sink” Live CD/installer of 12.1 and KDE 3.5 exists here (Derivatives - openSUSE) for x86 and x_64 to get a feel for KDE 3.5.

Using a 12.3_DVD or “netinstall.iso” (32 or 64-bit, but don’t use a “Live” CD):

  • Select “new install”, and allow auto setup (works for me, YMMV)
  • Install only “Other - Minimal X Windows”
  • Replace “icewm-lite” with “icewm-default”, add “mc”, “nano” and “firefox” (my tastes).

After this (very) minimal install, login (using root saves time) and open Xterm and use “nano” to change “windowmanager” from “twm” to “icewm”; e.g., “cd /etc/sysconfig”, then “nano windowmanager”. After you make and save the change (CTL+O), and “CTL+X” from “nano”, logout from TWM (exit on menu).

After next login you will have more of a desktop. Since the developers buggered up network setup in 12.3’s install, you will have to do Yast > Network Devices > Network Settings (if you have a LAN adapter, e.g.,) to manually set up your network; test with firefox to make sure setup is correct. Only then can you use Yast > Software > Software Repositories:

  • to remove DVD from repos (my choice, since never needed again),
  • and do all online updates, then reboot (maybe there was an upgraded kernel, or just to be safe, etc).

After login, add 12.3 - kde3.5 repo via Yast > Software > Software Repositories > Add > Community, e.g., “”.

Using Yast > Software Management, select View > Repositories, and select the one you just added, and select only the following entries for your base install of KDE3; BTW, if you select Options, and deselect “show dev …” and “show debug”, the list to select from will be a LOT shorter and clearer):

kde3-k3b (optional: best CD/DVD burner for KDE 3.5 and 4)
kde3-knemo (optional: network icon in systray; use “Network Monitor” in Personal Settings > Internet&Network)
kde3-style-ia-ora (optional: nice Mandriva style: invoke Personal Settings > Appearance > Style & Window Dec)
kdebase3-kdm (REALLY important)
kdemultimedia3-mixer (REALLY important: this is your volume control applet!)
kdepim3 (this gives you kmail; don’t need if you use Thunderbird, etc)
kdeutils-extra (optional: gives you a functional Hex editor)

If you need wireless, Samba or other stuff, add that too using the KDE:/KDE3 repository. Now change back to the regular “Search” selection, making sure these are selected:

  • desktop-data-openSUSE-extra
  • fetchmsttfonts (optional: provides basic MS TT fonts like arial, georgia, etc)

Accept the dependencies offered, and install everything you have check-marked. After install, BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, open an Xterm and use “nano” again to make the following changes (cd /etc/sysconfig, and nano xxxxx), where “xxxxx” is:

  • windowmanager: change “icewm” to “startkde3” (one occurence, front of file), and
  • displaymanager: change “xdm” to “kdm3” (one occurence, front of file).

REBOOT, log in to your new KDE3 system. Add your own personal tastes in additional software, and personal settings.

Important TIP #1: If you find that your PC won’t shut down completely from the KDE menu, try changing the [Shutdown] section in /opt/kde3/share/config/kdm/kdmrc to “HaltCmd=/sbin/halt -p”, rather than “HaltCmd=/sbin/halt”.

Important TIP #2: KDE3 has a udisks bug that slows USB transfers to a crawl; won’t be fixed. Workaround is to delete “automount_options = { sync, noatime }” line, if it exists, in “/opt/kde3/share/config/udisks-glue.conf” file. If udisks receives updates from openSUSE, then you may need to re-apply this fix each time.


Warning: In relative terms, I’m stone-age. I don’t have a smartphone (only a featurephone), netbook/laptop, facebook, rss, twitter, texting and all that “social” stuff. So my desktop needs are modest:

Firefox, Gpicview, Deluge, Flash, Gimp, Acrobat, Wine, Bleachbit (0.93 or greater), Rar/Unrar/P7Zip, LibreOffice, Handbrake-gtk & AviDeMux-qt. For multimedia I go plainly and simply with VLC (VideoLan), libdvdcss2 (from and with gecko-mediaplayer … the latter of which provides all the codecs and plugins within Firefox browser. For the “multimedia kitchen sink” method, read:
-, and

I find that the following repo contains better freetype2 and cairo libs for enhanced (sharper) sub-pixel rendering on LCDs. But do not select “fontconfig” packages from there, as it renders some fonts at some sites strangely.
** (or Factory)/ **

If you are migrating to 12.3 from an earlier version of openSuse with KDE 3.5, and wish to continue using Kmail (within kdepim3), you can transfer your existing mail folders, settings and address book by saving the following beforehand, and then copying them into your new install (same locations, I advise renaming any new (target) directories to “xxxxx.old” before pasting your old versions into the new directories/folders). I only use kmail, so full “PIMers” may require more:
In your /(HOME)/.kde/share/apps folder: kabc, kmail, kwallet.
In your /(HOME)/.kde/share/config folder: emaildefaults, emailidentities, kaddressbookrc, kmail.eventrc, kmailrc, kwalletrc.

Any problems, consult OpenSuse KDE3 community (openSUSE Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-kde3).