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[How To] Install KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS on Ubuntu

kde-logoKDE Plasma desktop 5.8 LTS was released back in October, but only landed in the Kubuntu backports PPA this weekend, thus making it available to those of you running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Ubuntu 16.10.

We’ll skip on to the installation instructions in just a second, but first: a quick recap of some of the new features that are in Plasma 5.8.4 versus the 5.7 and 5.5 releases used in Yakkety and Xenial respectively:

  • New Login & Lock Screen
  • Right-to-Left Language Support
  • Improved applets, including music player controls
  • Easier keyboard shortcut creation/editing
  • New monospace font
  • Optional breeze-grub theme
  • Theme improvements

This video previews some of the above features:

Install KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS on Ubuntu

First things first: although this is an LTS release it is distributed through an opt-in PPA. You should not expect the same level of support and/or testing as given to the version of KDE Plasma that your distribution offers in its archives.

Or to put it more succinctly: expect bugs and imperfections.

That caveat out of they way you’ll need to add the following PPA to your Software Sources to install/upgrade to KDE Plasma 5.8.4 and KDE Frameworks 5.28.

This PPA provides the Plasma LTS for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Ubuntu 16.10 LTS.

To add the PPA open a new terminal and run the command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

If you don’t currently have the ‘kubuntu-desktop‘ meta-package installed on your system you will need to install it first:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop

If this is the first time you’re installing the Kubuntu desktop you should be prepared for a longer wait than if you’re upgrading a desktop in-place. It has to pull in and install a large number of apps and dependencies.

Once installed, or if you already have the Kubuntu desktop package installed, run a dist-upgrade:

sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade

Once everything has successfully installed you can go ahead and reboot your system. When it’s back up remember to select the KDE desktop session from whichever login-manager is default.

Downgrade KDE Plasma

To downgrade to the version of KDE your distribution offers from its archives install the PPA Purge tool:

sudo apt install ppa-purge

Next, run it against the Kubuntu backports PPA listed above:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

Let us know your experience with the Plasma 5.8.x series in the comments below.