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Mini-KDE: how to re-package and configure only the essential KDE applications for better performance and much smaller disk space requirements

Important: the Mini-KDE article on Linux Journal is now available to all Internet users

Schools, single students, small and medium businesses, NPOs, all badly need an office suite for Linux which is:

  • integrated (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, database interface)
  • fully compatible, or at least aiming to be so, with the OpenDocument format used by, soon to become an international OASIS/ISO standard,
  • but much lighter than, less relying on Java, and more integrated with Linux (fonts, printing…)
  • possibly sharing one single-file SQL database format with (as described here, please vote for the OO.o and KOffice issues mentioned in the text if you agree)

Today, the best candidate for this is KOffice. This RULE webpage is then dedicated to how to install KOffice and, while we’re at it, some fundamental KDE applications on a Linux system which only has X or kdrive installed. The result, which we hereby call Mini Kde, must require the smallest possible disk space and RAM to run.

Mandatory Disclaimer

This is not, in any way, a KDE vs Gnome thing, or any official “adoption” of KDE by RULE. It’s just an experiment to see how easy (or hard) it can be to satisfy the
requirements above with already existing software. Everybody is welcome to join RULE, investigate other alternatives and publish the results here: try the Gnome route (AbiWord + Gnumeric +???), try to make leaner, whatever. What matters is to fight bloat.

Is this only for Fedora?

By golly, no! We are starting with those distributions for the reasons explained in the RULE FAQ 5. Much of the present and future content of this page however will be surely applicable in other distributions. Please do apply it and let us know. Let us also know any trick which may help us. In the meantime, thanks to L. Montanaro, D. Faure and all the others who already submitted the information collected here.

Project specifications

OK, let’s get to work. First of all, we need to modify the proper scripts to implement all the suggestions of the KDE performance tips page. Note that that page is valid for all KDE users, whether they use RULE or not.

Next, since lazyness is a great virtue among programmers, we are going to start from the latest stable versions of KDE and KOffice available in source RPM format from either Fedora Core or the KDE for Red Hat Project. A good starting point for Fedora might be the source RPMs for Kde and KOffice from the above project We’ll also make use of all the suggestions I (Marco) collected on several KDE/KOffice lists, and of all the others which will come.

With all this we are going to massage the spec files until they build a KOffice optimized for memory and space consumption. Since it will obviously need Qt and some basic KDE stuff, we will also try to figure out how bigger it gets to package all and only the following applications:

  • kmail
  • konqueror
  • kopete
  • knode

with the possible addition of:

  • kwin
  • kontact
  • kicker

but certainly nothing else. In other words, a basic desktop which can do browsing, email, news. office suite, IM according to the latest standards. To make all this as lean as possible means at least to:

  • not compile or package any other program
  • no arts, ie sound support (regardless from RULE, hearing a door slam when you close your browser is about the last thing you need in ==any== real office or classroom…)
  • as little clipart, icons and themes as possible: functionality and speed are eye candy!)
  • any other idea? Tell it to our [mailing list->7] or to rule, at the server

A more extreme solution would include building all this on a minimal version of Qt, stripped as discussed in another page.

Which pieces of KDE are needed?

This is a partial list of what must really be compiled and packaged by each base KDE blocks to arrive at only the programs listed above. Please help us to complete and validate this list:

  • Konqueror: libkonq and konqueror from kdebase
  • KMail: lib* and kmail from kdepim
  • Knode: knode from kdepim
  • KOffice: Koffice, of course
  • Kicker: kicker from kdebase
  • Kwin: kwin from kdebase

Before all this, of course, we must have also compiled Qt and kdelibs (all of them? Not clear yet, you tell me).

How do I modify which makefiles to compile and install only the apps listed above?

Put this in inst-apps before running Makefile.cvs


This is for kdebase, do something equivalent in kdepim, listing all libs first, then kmail and knode. It seems, however, that configure reads inst-apps too, so the usual process ( ./configure, make, make install) could work (not tested yet).

RULE = Run Up to Date Linux Everywhere
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