How to use awesome wm on Kubuntu

27. January 2020
awesome kde linux

Update

After I configured too much and destroyed some components I had to set up the computer anyways. I had another look on the various Ubuntu flavors and I decided to switch to Lubuntu which uses LXQt as it’s DE. One neat built-in feature is to choose the favorite WM, which created the hope that I don’t have to configure so many things. And I was right, after the first days I am happy with it. So my recommendation for everyone who likes a KDE/Qt look and feel and the awesome window manager: Install Lubuntu and choose in System Settings > Basic Settings > Window Manager awesome.


While in university I heard more and more about tiling window managers like awesome or i3 and finally I tried awesome myself. Being a passionate vim user and doing most things in a terminal (together with tmux) I am already used to use primarily the keyboard and use the concept of tiling.

After only a few minutes I was convinced to continue using awesome. But this came also with some drawbacks, as awesome is only a window manager and no full fledged desktop environment. Some of those quirks and their solutions can be found here:

KDE applications look ugly

As I very much like the KDE app like okular I am still using them. But they did look ugly, for example the icons in okular were missing. The reason for this is a missing environment variable, which would be normally set by some KDE startup mechanisms. Apparently the KDE apps require those variables to setup themselves fully.

So the solution to this is adding the environment variable in /etc/environment:

XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP="KDE"

The problem here was, that xdg-open dispatched to kfmclient, which is not installed. To change this behavior one has to add the following line to /etc/environment. Then xdg-open knows which version of KDE is installed and uses the correct program.

KDE_SESSION_VERSION=5