Sunday, June 13, 2010


Since KDE SC 4.4 many hidden options have been added to oxygen to 'fine-tune' the appearance of widgets and window decorations. At the time, they have been made hidden, in order not to scare normal users by facing them with a large number of choices with most of which they would have no idea what to do.

As a drawback, there was a number of bug reports and wishes from advanced users asking for features and configure options which in fact were already there, but not easily accessible. The answer to such reports have been: "edit your configuration file (usually $HOME/.kde4/share/config/oxygenrc), and add this or that line, in this or that section". Not very satisfactory.

For KDE SC 4.5, a new application has been added to remedy the above. It is called oxygen-settings (it runs from either krunner or one's favorite terminal), and provides access to all the previously hidden options. The other advantage of oxygen-settings is that all options for both the widget style and window decoration are regrouped at the same place, fewer clicks away one from the other.

Hopefully this addition will make advanced users happy, without scaring normal users, who would not care about all the functionalities offered here.

Below are a few screenshots of this application.

The first page, corresponding to widgets' style configuration:

The animations page:

It allows to customize each animation used in the widget style independently from the other.

The window decoration page:

It is very similar to what's available in KDE's configuration tool (systemsettings) but includes a number of additional, otherwise hidden, options


  1. What about informing the users about that in the settings area of oxygen that there is a tool for advanced users something like that and give the command for that?? Anyways GREAT JOB!!! Thank You for the greatest desktop environment in the World!!

  2. Great. Thanks for your efforts. Is there plan to support changing the background of windows with svg ?

  3. "Advanced-but-not-too-advanced" user rant here.

    I liked the fact that after going through systemsettings, the system was set up exactly the way I wanted, and I was done with setting up.
    If I wanted to tweak something, I knew where to go -- if it's an application with a window, find the settings in the menu, otherwise it's in systemsettings.
    Now I'll have to remember an additional command to run. What's next? Separate tweak apps for sound, hardware, Plasma?
    In other words, you're only eliminating the "edit some config file" problem. IMO the real problem is that you have to google for the place to tweak at. Or ask for it in forums, IRC, or whatever.
    Why not put it in an "advanced" section of systemsteeings?

  4. I agree with Petr, it should be added to Advanced tab in System Settings. It's called "Advanced" for a reason ;-)

  5. adding this to the 'advanced' tab won't work as it doesn't exist anymore in the Plasma Workspace 4.5.

    Either way, I do agree it might have to be put somewhere in the systemsettings, but as hidden as possible as it's way over the top for normal users...

  6. @Petr: unfortunately KDE 4.5 is in "string freeze" mode. So that adding an "expert" button to system-settings will not be possible.

    Another alternative would be to add a relevant ".desktop" file so that the application is added somewhere inside the 'start' menu, but I'm not sure string freeze will allow that either.

  7. there is no reason to be afraid of non-advanced users because there is the reset button, also putting this in system settings make a lot of sense, kde has always got tons of options and advanced users like this, non-advanced just don't use them

    PS tricks like this remind me gconf and anty-idiotic-gnome...

    PSS but i love this kind of features, it's all about options, options, options give the ability to configure kde the way you want - do not be afraid of users just make smart-arranged & intuitive system settings :)

  8. I'm loving the added above-board configuration options, sterling work. I will make a request though: better shadows for the Oxygen KWin style - the current shadow settings are very limited and the end result is too poor and tight.

  9. I find the separation to be the best way. Nobody really needs such fine grained settings.
    Shipping a separate app is the best way and Geek-focused distributions (Arch, Gentoo, Fedora) can still modify the .desktop file to either show up in System Settings and/or the K Menu.

    I have one question, though: Where in SVN is oxygen-settings?

  10. @Izo: actually, Nuno Pinheiro and I have been working on improving the window decoration shadows. They are "smoother" now, and more shadow settings should now be 'valid' (in the sense that it would not create artifacts). Notably, larger shadows are now possible. We actually changed the defaults to be somewhat larger than for previous KDE4 versions. Feedback welcome.

    The application itself is in kdebase/workspace/kstyle/oxygen/config. It loads the style's and decoration's configurations using a 'pluggin' mechanism.
    The style's configuration is located at the same place.
    The decoration configuration is in kdebase/workspace/kwin/clients/oxygen/config.

  11. The reason we created this app was that we wanted to lower the barrier for people that are into tweaking their style, to be able to do so, but on the other end we did not wanted to create a huge barrier for the occasional simple obvious change for Joe user that would need to find the thing he needed to change buried under 60 other options.
    As a mater of fact the current Configure UI needs work so it can be simple and present an very low learning curve.

  12. I agree that it would be better if this were integrated into systemsettings.

    Perhaps putting it in a section called "details", "detailed settings" or even "tweaking" rather than "advanced" would be good. It would communicate that you are probably going to be presented with a lot of check-boxes which will give you more control but without the implication that "you need to be really cleaver to do this".

    This looks nicely designed but there are dangers with an "advanced" and "normal" settings separation. (1) It is often not obvious in which section a setting will appear so it may take longer to find it, however in this case it seems very much worth it in order to allow quick access to the "normal settings. (2) developers get lazy and say "normal users don't need much control and advanced users don't need good usability" - the worst example of this is the VLC settings dialogue (or used to be I haven't looked at it for a while). This is rather an easy trap to fall into since it is hard to work out how to make a UI both powerful and easy.

    But I don't think youguys are likely to make either of these mistakes ;-)

  13. I notice that there are a lot of "i" buttons. Something nice that the Bespin settings dialogue does something nice: It has a panel on the right hand side which displays information about whichever settings widget the mouse is over.

  14. @maninalift:
    To be honest, I'm not really satisfied with the "I" button.

    But on the other hand, I don't really like the bespin way either (the text in side panel): it eats a lot of place for some text that you should only have to read only once or twice in your life time (once you read it, you know what the button is about, right ?).

    I'm thinking on changing to tooltips (when hovering the checkbox and associated label), but then in turn, I heard there are issues with tooltips and touchpads.

  15. @Hugo yeah I see your point but for larger form factor devices at least there isn't a great problem in making the settings panel a bit wider. It doesn't seem ideal though.

    I don't like tooltips, I hardly ever use them and I think most users are barely aware of their existence (particularly the less tech-confident).

    The advantage of the side-panel approach for me was it was just there, I didn't even have to realise that I didn't know something before I started learning about it.

    Ultimately all these three options have their downsides. Personally I think tooltips are the least useful.

    How about having JUST ONE clearly visible and identifiable "i" or "help" button and clicking it causes a help panel to toggle on the right hand side which acts like the Bespin information panel.

  16. great job!
    I often try the 'what's this' button in the title bar to learn about options, but a lot of devs don't care to implement that :S

  17. @mxttle: I agree. "What's this" is largely unsupported in KDE. Including by me.

    One of the reasons why I personally dislike the "what's this" thing is that the corresponding dialog looks pretty bad (ugly pattern for shadow, no rounded edges), and practically impossible to customize by the style (here oxygen), because of Qt's implementation, which is very old, and have not been touched for ages. It seems even Qt does not really support "What's this" either ...