Smart tips and tricks to get the best from KDE 4

KDE has always been the connected desktop. And now it goes even further…

Easily access remote folders

KDE is designed to treat network file servers as local filesystems, so you should be able to access files on a remote machine as easily as you can access files locally.

But this isn't always the case. The problem is that it's not always clear how you can access remote servers. The typical file requester, for example, may include a link to the network and it may not. And even if it does, you won't be able to specify exactly the server you want to access.

The solution is to enter the exact location manually, and you can do this into the location field in any KDE 4 file requester. Just precede the address with the protocol you want to use – most commonly it's smb:// for Samba and ftp:// for FTP, followed by the domain name or IP address of the resource you want to access.

Easy Samba

Samba is an essential networking protocol used all the time by Windows, OS X and Linux machines, but creating a working Samba configuration can be a little problematic, and it's for this reason that KDE 4 includes its own Samba configuration panel, both for clients and servers. The only prerequisites are that you've installed both the client and server Samba packages for your chosen distro.

KDE's Samba configuration panel can be found in the Advanced page of KDE's System Settings application. If you want to turn the machine you're using into a server, click on the 'Shares' tab followed by the 'Add New Share' button. From the new window that appears, switch to the 'Base Settings' page and add the folder you want to share, or click on 'Share All Home Directories'.

From the following page, you can then choose to restrict access to certain users. We also recommend enabling the 'User' level sharing in the Base configuration page. You will then need to create a user account for everyone you want to provide access to, and add those users to the Samba users list in the main config window.

Remote music in Amarok

You can play music files on a remote server by choosing 'Play Media' from the Amarok menu, and entering the address of the server you want to access. The clue to this functionality is the small folder or Home icon just to the left of the current location. If you click on this icon, you can select other drives and partitions on your machine, as well as network devices.

If you click on Network, you can then browse Network and Samba shares on your network, or you can add the address of the server manually by clicking on the protocol and adding the address manually to the location field. Don't forget that you can use the small yellow start icon to add any location to your bookmarks.

SSH file server

Many of us run an SSH server on our Linux machines. It enables us to remotely access the command line on those machines. But if you're running KDE on another machine, you can also use SSH to tunnel your files and folders to either Dolphin or Konqueror. The trick is to use a psuedo-protocol called Fish.

Open the location bar in Dolphin, or type directly into the URL field in Konqueror, and prefix the IP address of your server with fish://. Typing fish://user@hostname, for example, would connect you to the user account on the hostname server and display the contents of user's home directory in the file manager. You can then treat this location just as you would a local folder.

In the background, KDE has installed a small hidden Perl script called .fishsrc in the remote machine's login directory. This runs on the remote machine and manages the file transfers. It does this without resorting to the secure file copy command, sftp, which makes Fish is a great solution if you're unable to install sftp on a remote machine.