Linux window-specific behavior

When launching an rdesktop session from my Linux box, I wanted it launch fullscreen.  I’ll tell how I did it at first and then give a simpler solution.  [Note: I wrote most of this in April and May when I was running Mandriva 2009.0, but I didn’t write down exactly how I’d gotten to things, and now that I’m running 2009.1 the path to get to things is slightly different.  I’ve updated the post to speak in terms of the 2009.1/KDE 4.2 ways of getting to these settings.]

How I Did It At First: No Border

Whenever I ran rdesktop I would then need to go to the window’s system menu to some Advanced submenu and choose the No Border setting.

An Improvement: Saving Window-Specific Settings

At some point I finally got tired of doing this every time I ran rdesktop and wished for a way to make my change stick so I didn’t have to do it every time.  Well, in KDE (I’m not sure about other window managers) there are “Window-specific settings” you can save.  So again on the window’s system menu, I chose Configure Window Behavior -> Window Specific and clicked Modify.  That took me to this configuration dialog:


I set No Border to Remember.  Now when I launched rdesktop I could go to the system menu and choose Advanced -> No Border and the next time it remembered this setting and automatically launched borderless.  Nice!

Except… sometimes I wished to de-borderlessify the window, and I couldn’t figure out how (though I did find I could hold down Alt and use the mouse to drag the borderless rdesktop session to a corner of the screen!).  It seems that borders are sometimes difficult to re-erect once you’ve taken them down…

A Simpler Solution: Toggle Fullscreen Mode

There may be some hotkey that lets me get the system menu back after choosing No Border*, but I found a solution that fits my needs better: simply toggling rdesktop fullscreen mode using Ctrl+Alt+Enter.  That way I can usually run in fullscreen mode but quickly have a normal window again when needed.

*(Actually, Alt+F3 normally brings up the system menu even if you have No Border, but rdesktop is different because it intercepts such key sequences.  That’s why I had to go the circuitous route.)

Clearing window-specific behavior

Great, but by now I had set No Border on the rdesktop window as a permanent setting.  I needed to figure out how to clear that setting.  It turns out that the place was:

Configure Your Desktop -> Window Behavior -> Window-Specific -> Modify -> Preferences and deleting the item “Window settings for rdesktop”.

Then I could run rdesktop like normal and simply press Ctrl+Alt+Enter to toggle fullscreen mode.

Invisible tooltips

I recently installed Linux (Mandriva 2009.1) on a new PC and moved our home directories over to it so we’d keep our settings, email, etc.  When I did this, everything mainly worked fine, except that the tooltips (if that’s what they’re called) when I hover over an item on the task bar showed up with black text on black background, something like this (simulated ’cause I didn’t take a screenshot at the time):


My wife’s desktop looked fine, so I figured it was some setting of mine rather than a bug in Mandriva or KDE 4.

It turned out all I needed to do was right-click the desktop and pick Appearance Settings:


and then choose Aya (or Oxygen):


Now the tooltip text is visible:


Rabbit trails (for those interested in how the solution was found)

I had fiddled with Configure Your Desktop -> Colors, but nothing seemed to have an effect on the taskbar’s colors.  I had recently read about something called “plasma” in KDE 4, which the taskbar is maybe part of.  I thought maybe the plasma stuff has its own color scheme, separate from generic tooltips.  Browsing through the search results from googling mandriva plasma colour settings, I found this article, which took me to a settings area I’d never been to before: Configure Your Desktop -> Advanced -> Desktop Theme Details.  I couldn’t at first figure out what to do in here, but when I changed a setting and clicked Apply, I got this dialog:


“Open the desktop Appearance Settings”… hmm… that got me exploring around (I went first to Configure Your Desktop but couldn’t find the setting, so I right-clicked on an empty area of the desktop and got the context menu, chose Appearance Settings, and picked a theme (the theme was blank when I first went there).  Fixed!

Where custom keyboard shortcuts went in KDE4

When I went to Mandriva 2009.0, I also upgraded to KDE 4.  There was only one feature I missed from KDE 3: how you could assign keyboard shortcuts to run arbitrary commands.  I liked that and had my email, browser, and terminal set to easy shortcuts.

I hadn’t been able to find this functionality in KDE 4, even with doing a bit of searching around on the web.  But it’s there!

It’s There!

Here’s how to get to it:

If you’re using the new-style Application Launcher that lets you search, press the “K” launcher button and type khotkeys into the search box.  A program called Input Actions appears (I can’t seem to find it in the menus — I’m not sure how the search finds it).  This is what I think used to be called KHotKeys in KDE 3, and it’s the same good ol’ quirky interface that lets you hook up key combinations to actions.  (The “Windows” key can form part of the key combination, which I find convenient.)

Other Places to Configure Shortcuts

There are two other areas that look similar but didn’t seem to be what I wanted: Configure Your Desktop -> Keyboard and Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts allows configuration if the item already appears in the list;  and if you go to the Application Launcher and search for shortcut, there is a Keyboard Shortcuts item that appears that has some system-level shortcuts you can set (good information to know), but it wasn’t what I was looking for either because it didn’t seem to have my programs in the list or have a way to add them.  (Actually I think I could add them into the Keyboard Shortcuts one by first adding them to the menu system using the KDE Menu Editor…but I was used to doing it the old way.  Guess I’ll learn the new way if I eventually need to.)

Update: Boy, do I feel dumb.  I didn’t even try out the shortcuts to make sure they were operational before making this post, and they don’t seem to be operational for me.  I can set up a shortcut either the Input Actions way or through Configure Your Desktop -> Keyboard and Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts, but the shortcuts don’t seem to work, even after rebooting.  I don’t know how to do it. : (