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This page last modified: Jan 21 2011
title:Fedora KDE X Fonts install setup config mini howto
description:Change window defaults (border, title) with KDE, useful settings, XMMS, Emacs fonts, X-windows fonts, and Firefox fonts.

Table of contents
Firefox and Thunderbird fonts
KDM instead of GDM
Window settings
Install XMMS 
Emacs and X fonts


Updated for Fedora 14, KDE 4.5.3

Some notes from December 2006, Fedora Core 5 (yes, I know that FC6 is
already out).

Fedora Core and KDE are wonderful. However, out of the box there are
some fine features that are disabled or set "wrong" to my way of
thinking. One big problem with the default FC is Gnome. I used to like
Gnome, but in the past few years Gnome seems to have gotten bloated
and slow, while at the same time losing most of my favorite
features. In the meantime, KDE has gotten faster and gained
features. The choice is clear. KDE rocks.

I'm open to other opinions, but this document is about making KDE a
little friendlier and fun to use, and how to get Gnome out of the
way. On some machines I've gone so far as to not install
Gnome. However, I don't recommend this. The alternately-abled people
who configure Fedora and Anaconda assume that Gnome is present and
rely on one or two of its utilities for firstboot (or used to). Disk
is cheap (and yum can remove Gnome later if you want).

Firefox and Thunderbird fonts

As of KDE 4 and Firefox 3.x, Firefox is not using the KDE font
settings. It is possible that I didn't install the GTK engine, but
there's nothing in the Firefox preferences to suggest that Firefox
would use GTK.

There is an easy work around. Font preferences are stored in
userChrome.css. The location of the file varies by operating
system. In Linux (for user mst3k with random hash yzs8h9an ) is it stored in:


Exit Firefox if it is running.

Copy userChrome-example.css to userChrome.css and then edit
userChrome.css. Uncomment the section below and change the point size
to something reasonable such as 14:

* {
    font-size: 14pt !important

Note: the * is part of the CSS. The mozilla people use a comment style
with a * on each line (a habit that I find irritating and pointless,
but then I'm an Emacs user and Emacs people have no need for silly
indentation tracking conventions).

Firefox menu fonts are too small (or too large). Thunderbird menu
fonts are too large or too small. Firefox fonts do not use the KDE
preferences. Thunderbird does not use KDE preferences.

Apparently, Mozilla products use the GTK QT engine. Install the
yum/rpm package gtk-qt-engine from Fedora extras. After installation
you'll hve a new Control Center option under Appearance & Themes
called "GTK Styles and Fonts". Make changes, log out and log in.

yum -y install gtk-qt-engine

KDM instead of GDM

The KDE control panel login manager doesn't seem to work quite right
with gdm, so I suggest switching to kdm. You will also want the
display manager to default to using KDE as the desktop.

[root@zeus ~]# cat /etc/sysconfig/desktop
[root@zeus ~]#

In /etc/X11/xdm/kdmrc:


Yes, you will have to be root to edit these settings. Make a copy of
these files before editing.

Window settings

In KDE these are set by the System Settings application. I run it from
the laucher menu (aka start menu). I checked ps and this seems to be
the command line:

/usr/bin/systemsettings -caption System Settings -icon preferences-system

Titlebar (background) and window border color (KDE 4):

System Settings / Application appearance / Colors / Colors (tab) /
Active titlebar

I choose a bright color for active window border so I can easily
distinguish the active window boundaries from background windows. I
tend to use alt-right-mouse to resize and alt-left-mouse to move
windows. Using alt-mouse means I don't have to click on a titlebar or
window border to move or resize so it is quicker, and less

Menubar background color (KDE 4):

System Settings / Application appearance / Style / Configure (button
for Widget style) / Menubars (left navigation) / Coloration

I have my menubar set to "background". 

KDE calls the start button the "Kickoff Application Launcher". In
older versions it was the K Menu. Windows users probably call it the
"start menu" although Microsoft has been changing that. I will call it
the K Menu even though it never has a "k" on it, and varies from
having a picture of a red hat to having the Fedora "f". Old (version
3) KDE was the "Control Center". New KDE (4) is "System Settings".

"K Menu" / "Control Center" / "Appearance & Themes" / "Window Decorations"

Under the "Window" tab choose "Keramik". The reason is that several
features are only available in this window style. (Wide window border
seems to be available in more themes with KDE4.) In particlar, I like
a fat window border. This fatter border makes it easier to grab window
borders when resizing. In the days of yore, screen real estate was too
valuable to waste on wide window borders, but no more.

I *really* want the window borders hidden for maximized windows. This
is one of those settings I can never find. (Part of the reason I'm writing
these notes is so that I'll be able to find these settings). Look in
"Window Behavior".

"K Menu" / "Control Center" / "Desktop" / "Window Behavior" under the
tab "Moving" uncheck "Allow moving and resizing of maximized
windows". Sheez.

I leave "Placement" set to "Smart" although it is might be better
called Wacky as far as I can tell. New windows are invariably never
where I want them. However, KDE and Fedora isn't a Macintosh, so at
least I have some choices. (I was an Apple evangelist, so don't even
start in with me about how wonderful the Mac is. Since I'm ranting
about everything else, the KDE Control Center programmers could
collect an index of the settings and put that in the Control Center a
Help Center. It would make it easier to track down one of the dozens
of available settings.)

Next I like to fix the "K Menu" / "Control Center" / "Desktop" / "Taskbar"

Check only "Show application icons". Group similar tasks: Never
(although this acts like it is set to "always" since all the Firefox
and terminal windows are grouped... go figure). Appearance: Elegant.

On important setting is in "Window Behavior". Under the "Advanced" tab
is the "Focus stealing prevention level", which I set to "High". This
keeps new application windows from popping to the front if you are
actively doing something. For example, I'll launch a terminal window,
and login to one of he many servers at work. At the same time, I
launch Firefox, Thunderbird, Emacs and Xmms. They can open in the
background in their own good time (even on an SMP machine opening
those apps can seem glacial). I don't want Thunderbird to pop up the
login window if I'm check the status of my jobs on the cluster.

Next, I go through all the other tabs in "Window Behavior" and disable all
the animations, active window borders, don't display content in rising
windows, etc. 

I don't like tooltips on my desktop or taskbar or in the Panel (the
toolbar at the bottom of the screen with the start button, etc.

Install XMMS 

XMMS seems to be the most functional music player, even in the year
2010. Go figure. The KDE and other offerings don't work, or are
missing critical features. XMMS does not scan anything, and it does
not need too. XMMS to assume that your music directory contains
directories by artist, and .m3u playlist files. That's it. XMMS "load
playlist" remembers your default music diretory and shows you the
playlist files. XMMS pretty clearly expects that your music was ripped
using GRIP. GRIP puts the playlist in the top level music directory,
and creates a directory tree for each artist, just what XMMS
expects. It is good to set GRIP up to use relative directory links in
the .m3u files, just in case you want to move your music directory.

I'm mystified as to why the world needs 10 crappy, bloated, partially
functional, poorly documented, media players. FWIW, none of these
non-XMMS players seem to have instructions (examples!!)  for how to
get them working with Fedora Linux, even though they ship with
Fedora. Amarok and others always scan your music directory, and since
most of us have many gigabytes of music, that is a slow process. It
can't be turned off. The other players get all confused by a directory
of playlist files and artist directories and either show the folders,
or nothing, and expect you to import or create new playlists. Some
players don't seem to understand .m3u files.

Use yum to install these packages:

[mst3k@zeus ~]$ rpm -qa | grep xmms
[mst3k@zeus ~]$

Starting with either FC4 or FC5, Fedora comes with Fedora Extras
pre-installed for use with yum. This is good. You'll also want Livna
which has some additional useful packages which have some kind of
license conflict with FC (either more restrictive, or less restrictive
distribution licenses; these packages are still freely available).

A prime example is the free MP3 library. The owners of MP3 allowed
free use for many years even though MP3 is patented. Once MP3 became
popular, the owners started suing to get money for licenses. This is
clear just plain wrong and an abuse of the system. Now there is a free
MP3 library, but it can't be distributed by companies like Redhat. We
are reduced to getting it from organizations like Livna. Personally, I
only use ogg and flac unless I have to listen to a snippet from the Web.
rpm -ivh

Emacs and X fonts

My eyes aren't as sharp as they used to be, so I like a larger default
font in Emacs. The Emacs wizards have failed to write useful
documentation (examples!) for how to get the font size to permanently
stay larger. So I use .Xdefaults 

Changes to this file did not seem to take effect until I had restarted
X. The easiest way to do this is probably to reboot. I think you can
end your session, and in the display manager (that initial login
screen) use control-alt-backspace.

This seems to work better on one of my FC5 installs than on another. I
don't know why. As far as I can tell, all the 100 fonts are
installed. xfontsel is an interesting application. It is better than
nothing (or maybe not) but it certainly sucks and is very, very

I'd love to get the font set in my .emacs file, but the Emacs Mule is
more obscure than X Windows.

On the machine where it works:

[mst3k@zeus ~]$ cat .Xdefaults
*Emacs.font: -adobe-courier-medium-r-normal-*-14-100-100-100-*-90-iso8859-1
[mst3k@zeus ~]$

An identical FC5 install where it doesn't seem to work:

[mst3k@zeus ~]$ cat .Xdefaults
# *Emacs.font: -adobe-courier-medium-r-normal--17-120-100-100-m-100-iso8859-1
# *Emacs.font: -adobe-courier-medium-r-normal--14-100-100-100-m-90-iso8859-1
# *Emacs.font: -adobe-courier-medium-r-normal-*-16-100-100-100-*-90-iso8859-1
*Emacs.font: -adobe-courier-medium-r-normal--25-180-100-100-*-*-iso8859-1
[mst3k@zeus ~]$