KDE4 "activities"

I must be a bit thick but I can’t figure out what these are supposed to be for and how they work. They’re not documented on the KDE website. Would anyone care to explain for the benefit of thicksculls like me, or at least point us towards some documentation? A quick google didn’t yield much either…

+1. I came across them when setting up KDE4 for a different wallpaper on each of the four desktops. At some point I got a fifth activity and I am unable to delete it. If any one can explain how to delete it when there is no button to do that, but there is one to add an activity, it would be helpful. Using KDE 4.3 (RC). Probably so simple that I overlook it.


KDE4 Activities are merely what you would refer to as a Desktop or a Desktop Containment. In KDE4 you can have different activities running at the same time. If you click on the “cashew” at the top right corner and click Zoom Out, you’ll see all the activities you have.

For instance, say you use 4 desktops at a time. If you click the zoom out then choose Configure Plasma… You can choose to have a different activity for each desktop. This will let you have a different look for each desktop (Desktop 1 could have foldier view, Desktop 2 could be Desktop, Desktop 3 could be Plain Desktop, Desktop 4 could be another Plain Desktop but with different widgets). Each Desktop Containment will have its own widgets on it and can have its own background. Of course you don’t need to use these features, but they’re there if you want to. So desktop activities are individual containments that you can customize and configure however you like.

I believe that’s the basics of it. If I’ve missed anything feel free to ask or someone else may provide more information.

Take Care,


Make sure widgets are unlocked. Then zoom out to view all activities. Then zoom in to the one you want to delete to make it active. Then zoom out and you should now be able to delete it (there will be a red X).

Take Care,


Thanks Ian. BTW good description of activities, I had a rough idea but not confident to explain it well for the OP. I missed the zooming in and out, so never saw the red cross. :wink: Cheers.

‘Activities’ are all part of getting away from the 1980s model of a desktop with folders on it and back to the idea of a window on your world. If you look at the different windows in your house, you will normally get different views and different activities taking place outside them.

You can now configure your computer so that you get a different view, or window onto, a different activity for which you use your computer.

This is really a very simple and understandable example.
Good one. +1

I’ve seen these metaphors before but I really needed to know how it works and what it does. If I understand Ian correctly, it’s basically the same as the different workspaces, BUT with different backgrounds and different widgets for each?


Great way to put it! Definitely captures the essence of what the activities are suppose to do.


Precisely! Each activity is a personalized workspace, if you will. They aren’t called workspaces, as workspaces are a different term, but they are basically just the widgets and background for a workspace. As I said before, you can have one for each workspace or you can have only one and have it on each workspace. You can even have two and then switch between them using the zoom in and out function.

Take Care,


Or the activity switcher plasmoid.
Took me ages to figure out what the hell that thing was for.

The, as yet experimental, netbook UI shows an example of how this can be used.

No, that is simply NOT correct. You have totally missed the point.

Activities are another unnecessary layer above separate desktops.

You can still specify a number of desktops and you can add a pager to the taskbar/panel to easily switch between your desktop.

You can control the number of desktops, You can add them and subtract them at any time.

Activities are an unwelcome intrusion which you can’t seem to get rid of. There are always two, and haphazardly, more will be created seemingly at random. In these gratuitous activities there are additional potentially multiple desktops leading to huge confusion.

For anyone using multiple desktops, activities are a poor and slow alternative. Further they seem to create themselves at will.

I want to get rid of this whole concept, and stay with desktops. But there seems no way to do this.

Uh… Not correct according to whom? According to you the point of activities is to be completely useless?

You described desktops, good job. I’m not sure where you get your information but there is ALWAYS only 1 desktop activity by default. Try a new install then clicking zoom out. You’ll only find 1 desktop activity. The kinds of nightmares you’re describing can only be compared to an experience of KDE 4.0.X and on occasion 4.1.X. Try 4.2.X or 4.3. You’ll find you have a much better experience.

Also Activities are not an alternative to multiple desktops. They’re not even the same thing. Activities create a whole new user space for one to customize and manage a desktop. As stated before you can have one activity for all desktops, or you can have a separate activity for each desktop. And in no way, shape, or form can you create multiple desktops in one activity.

Here’s a link to a tutorial on how to use and configure Desktop Activities:

My KDE 4.x Desktop Activities Tutorial « An alien’s viewpoint

I would suggest doing more research before responding to a question and keeping rants to the soapbox/chit-chat part of the forum.

Take Care,


But they are confusing… I find that if I tick “Activity for each desktop”, a whole number of activities will be created. It only seems possible to delete them if the above is unticked (no red cross otherwise). Clicking on the desktop cashew brings up each menu item three times. I wish it was documented somewhere…

I’ve been experimenting with this in a laptop with opensuse 11.0 and kde 4.3 from factory, mostly to have different wallpapers in the cube.

Activities work but not without problems. There have been a number of posts about this, problems like zooming out on activities creating new empty ones, unable to delete the first activity/desktop, new activity created by just zooming out on activities view, and so on.

AFAIK all activities definitions reside in one hidden text file in your home directory - can’t remember it’s name right now. This file is easy to understand, an can be edited (from outside kde4) to delete/fix unwanted combinations.

Activities certainly have their use, but are still work in progress. I suppose they’ll be more stable in KDE4.4.

If you click to have an activity for each desktop then there should be an activity created for each desktop (workspace) you have. I’m guessing it’s only possible to delete them when that’s unticked so you don’t accidentally delete a desktop activity on one of your desktops.

Not really documentation but some pages from the kde website:

Plasma - KDE UserBase

Glossary with a definition of activities:

Glossary - KDE UserBase

I guess it does get kind of confusing. I started openSUSE using KDE 4.0 when it was first coming out and stuck with it till now at KDE 4.3 so this is all a lot easier for me to understand. If you have any more questions feel free to ask. I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability :wink:

Take Care,


Yes, I have four workspaces so I can understand why it ensures I have four activities with that option enabled, but as I already have a default desktop I then have five activities. What’s more, it appears that all five of these are available from every one of the four workspaces, when what I want is four activities associated with the four workspaces. Basically, I’m looking for a workaround to KDE’s inability to assign different wallpapers and widgets to different workspaces…

Are you by chance using compiz fusion as your window manager? It didn’t work for me with compiz fusion set as the window manager.

Take Care,


Thanks for that link to the user guide to desktop activities ijbreakey.

I had a serious problem with them today. I almost lost my original Desktop when I could not access it. I could scroll up on the activity list but whenever I clicked the desktop that I wanted, plasma would crash and I would have to restart it. Then If it didn’t crash it would go to a default Desktop all the time.

So I managed to delete all the other activities and I was good again. I can only see this being good for people who do alot of work at once on their computers and who have a good set of resources to run each completely different activity at once.

Its a good idea though, just not for me. :wink:

No, using Kwin here. Iam using KDE4.3 with Compiz on my work computer, but that’s so old and sluggish that I dare not inflict “activities” on it on top of all the Compiz effects :slight_smile:
But this one here is a fast machine with lots of RAM and a fast NVIDIA cards, working perfectly apart from the above. Will have another go at “activities” on it tonight…

I’m partially-successfully using activities. I just tried to add an activity for each desktop and it didn’t work. I then remembered I DO use compiz-fusion. Disabled compiz fusion then tried to add an activity for each desktop. Both times I was given 5 activities (my original plus 4 for each desktop) so there’s definitely something wrong there. But they still worked, just the last activity never became active. If I tried to delete my original one to try to use the last activity it would screw the activities up. But if I just kept my original activity then just used the other three it works. There’s just a fourth unused activity. This is definitely troublesome as I have an unused activity taking up processing power. My laptop only has a 1.6 Ghz Core Duo processor inside so it’s not blazing fast. 4.3 still needs some work with its features, and I agree with sabbyman that you’ll need a computer with decent resources to be able to use things like separate activities for each desktop.

Take Care,