KDE Plasma desktop issues remain after fresh reinstallation of Debian Linux

After running Linux (Debian 12) for almost half a year (after switching from Windows), I have now just gone through the ordeal of making a completely fresh, clean installation in order to attempt to verify/fix the various bizarre KDE Plasma issues which I suspected may have resulted from the “cruft” collected from me having originally installed XFCE and then later switched over to KDE Plasma on the installed system.

I downloaded the latest Debian installer, verified its SHA-512 hash (as I always do), put it on a stick and installed it very carefully, unchecking everything in the list of DEs except for “KDE Plasma”. For this new installation, I have cleanly followed my careful notes from my first experience, with zero “experimentation” which could in any way affect how KDE Plasma performs or behaves.

I use the “X11” session rather than “Wayland” out of necessity. (Long story.) If I now log out and try to log in again with Wayland, the login screen just reloads itself with no explanation, so let’s focus on X11 as it will take a long time until Wayland can be switched over to.

I use the official (closed source) NVIDIA drivers, again out of necessity, fetched and installed via Debian’s own “contrib”-enabled APT. (The MESA/open source GPU drivers are just painfully slow.)

The only setting I have changed is “Allow applications to block compositing”, because it causes visual glitches with (for example) Kate/Konsole appearing upside-down and flickering around. (I have checked that turning this back on does not fix my issues.)

Even before I changed any GUI preference or installed any of my scripts (which I also previously suspected were the cause for some of my issues), the same frustrating bugs showed themselves on the KDE Plasma desktop:

  1. The wastebin icon is visually permanently “full” no matter how many times I empty it or how I do it. It doesn’t matter if I right-click it and select “Empty”, or do it from Dolphin’s “Empty wastebin” button. It remains visually “full”.
  2. Both on the desktop and in Dolphin, views don’t always (pretty rarely) update when files are moved or deleted or added. In Dolphin, I can press F5 to “force” it manually, but the desktop doesn’t respond to any “nudging” such as pressing the same button.
  3. When I click an icon on the desktop, hold it and move it around on the desktop, it “feels” extremely “heavy” in a difficult to describe manner, as if the system is under extreme load (it isn’t), and when you “drop” it by releasing the mouse button, it disappears briefly (half a second or so) before reappearing in the new place.
  4. Oftentimes when I move the cursor “too quickly” (or so it seems) after clicking an icon to drag it to a different place on the desktop, the cursor appears not above the icon that is being moved, but far away from it (not always the same location).
  5. When I attempt to switch between the “layout modes” called “Folder View” and “Desktop”, the whole GUI window permanently freezes with nothing rendered inside it (you can see the desktop wallpaper underneath), every single time. I have rebooted in between; it was not a temporary glitch. I am thus stuck in “Folder View” right now, although I still don’t understand the difference between that and “Desktop” mode; both seem to behave in the same way as just detailed.

The GUI in general is not similarly “sluggish”, so it cannot be some fundamental driver issue. This seems to pertain only to the desktop. I’m unsure if this is normal or abnormal, but opening Dolphin can take half a second to a second, and clicking a “task manager group” has a noticeable delay whereas clicking individual task manager items is instant, but that’s about it. That was the same before the reinstallation, BTW. Moving around windows seems smooth and whatnot, just like they were before reinstalling.

I do remember that a KDE developer here told me that there is some “bad blood” between the Debian and KDE projects, and that they may have made some changes to (deliberately or not) mess with Plasma. While I was still using the original installation, he suggested that I should create the new file /etc/sysctl.d/50-kde-inotify-survey-max_user_instances.conf with fs.inotify.max_user_instances=256 in it, which I did. This partially seemed to fix the issue with Dolphin views not updating, but not fully, and it did not fix the wastebin icon being visually stuck as “full”. The aforementioned sluggishness and glitchiness of moving items around on the desktop seems to be a new issue since the reinstallation.

I have not yet applied this “hack” on my new installation, because, again, I’m trying to keep it fully “clean” so that nobody can possibly accuse me of “doing something wrong”, “running weird scripts” or “over-customizing”.

Re-installing Debian Linux from scratch with KDE Plasma as the first and only DE appears to only have worsened the glitches I experienced before. Although I had not touched it for quite a while, the last time I tried I had no issues switching between the two “layouts” (Folder View/Desktop) prior to the new installation.

Now that I have verified that it even happens on a clean system, with no possible interference from XFCE or things I may have done and forgotten about the first time around, I really don’t know what to do.

I want to point out that this was a major deal for me to go through and that I’m not willing to switch Linux distros (for a multitude of reasons which aren’t relevant here). Surely whatever strange configuration they may be applying can be reverted/overloaded?

I don’t want to go through this with Gnome as well. Nothing indicates that it would be a better experience overall (the exact opposite is the most likely), but at the same time, the desktop is the most fundamental part of a visual computer environment and it needs to work properly. I really don’t understand what could possibly be causing these things, or why it’s even worse after reinstalling.

Version information: plasmashell --version reports plasmashell 5.27.5 and apt list --installed | grep plasma says kde-plasma-desktop/stable,now 5:142 amd64 [installed,automatic].

you don’t want to hear this but maybe trying to force debian to use KDE is not the best presentation of KDE.

a distro maintained specifically to present KDE would likely give you a much better experience.

if you insist on strait debian, then i would suggest switching to LXQt for your DE as there are fewer things that can go wrong with it.

good luck

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I really like Debian, but a large DE like KDE is riddled with bugs and Debian Stable is unlikely to see any fixes for these. If you want a better KDE experience with Debian, you might want to consider becoming a tester and running Debian Sid (and even then you’ll still be behind rolling distributions).

That said, Nvidia hates Linux so YMMV.

yes this is the main problem.

I cannot reproduce any of these bugs (even though I know lots of other ones) on Fedora KDE with an AMD GPU.

Basically most sound like graphical issues which will likely be caused by NVIDIA drivers sucking. Maybe its also because Debian ships old drivers? But I dont know that.

Debian + KDE really is not the best idea as there are many bugs which will stay “stable”.

I don’t understand how bad graphics drivers could possibly only affect the desktop and not the other parts of the GUI/DE, but here’s the output of apt list --installed | grep nvidia:

firmware-nvidia-gsp/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
glx-alternative-nvidia/stable,now 1.2.2 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libegl-nvidia0/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libgl1-nvidia-glvnd-glx/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libgles-nvidia1/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libgles-nvidia2/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libglx-nvidia0/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-allocator1/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-cfg1/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-egl-gbm1/stable,now 1.1.0-2 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-egl-wayland1/stable,now 1:1.1.10-1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-eglcore/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-encode1/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-glcore/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-glvkspirv/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-ml1/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-ptxjitcompiler1/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
libnvidia-rtcore/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-alternative/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-driver-bin/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-driver-libs/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-driver/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed]
nvidia-egl-common/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-egl-icd/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-installer-cleanup/stable,now 20220217+3~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-kernel-common/stable,now 20220217+3~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-kernel-dkms/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-kernel-support/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-legacy-check/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-modprobe/stable,now 535.54.03-1~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-persistenced/stable,now 525.85.05-1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-settings/stable,now 525.125.06-1~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-smi/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-support/stable,now 20220217+3~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-vdpau-driver/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-vulkan-common/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
nvidia-vulkan-icd/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]
xserver-xorg-video-nvidia/stable,now 525.147.05-4~deb12u1 amd64 [installed,automatic]

I should note that I tried the fs.inotify.max_user_instances=256 thing in /etc/sysctl.d/50-kde-inotify-survey-max_user_instances.conf again, but it had no effect this time, so I have removed it again. No idea what’s going on.

This is really driving me crazy. The wastebin icon permanently stuck at “full”, the Dolphin view of the wastebin not updating on its own, dragging and dropping being so glitchy (but only on the desktop!), the inability to drag and drop video clips into an mpv window to start playing them (but only if from the desktop rather than Dolphin), and the lack of “Copy path” and “Open Terminal here” on the desktop (but not Dolphin)…

I feel crippled. There must be something I can do to fix this without having to yet again go through the Hell of switching DEs…? How is it possible that this only happens for me? How could it be the GPU if things work smoothly/properly except for on the desktop itself?

Debian + Nvidia is the worst combination possible for Plasma.

  1. Debian is often out of date. There have been 5 bugfix releases since 5.27.5:
    Schedules/Plasma 5 - KDE Community Wiki
  2. Nvidia + X11 has always been sluggish. Wayland fixes this, but there still things left to do, both on the Plasma side and the Nvidia side.
2 Likes

To mitigate the sluggishness with Nvidia+X11+Plasma, you could disable all desktop effects:

System Settings > Workspace Behavior > Desktop Effects

The guy wants his KDE, why do you try to dissuade him? KDE actually confirms on its web page that it is compatible with Debian. Case in point:

https://community.kde.org/Distributions

And you come here and say it is not compatible. Well, if desktop environments require specific linux derivatives, then they should not be independent packages. We should not be able to install them. Period. Kubuntu is basically ubuntu and it is debian based. Even KDE Neon is ubuntu, hence debian based. I am on a Raspberry Pi with its official OS and guess what i am on. KDE Plasma. It works. It should work. Linux is linux. Nobody needs fragmentation in the case of linux. We need more unity. Things should work for everybody.

i agree, but KDE is complex and there are a lot of moving parts that distro maintainers have to configure and arrange for a good user experience.

some distros are better at that than others and obviously put more time and effort into setting things up.

there is nothing wrong with the debian setup, it’s just a question of how much more effort the user will have to put into it before it’s polished.

kubuntu seems to be really good at that work, tumbleweed is good too, there is also tuxedoOS now and the fedora spin and of course neon… each one will give you a different UX because KDE is powerful and configurable.

Until last week I was running a Debian 12 KDE install then needed something else to do so have been trying various distributions with up to date KDE software. I had seen none of the issues with the desktop or it you describe. It worked perfectly fine using an Intel HD 630 built in graphic card with a three monitor setup. I had just finished up a 5 month project of re-encoding all my videos to h265 which ran my 6 core processor at almost full load at all times, all that time 24/7. The Desktop stayed perfectly stable and responsive at all times, even when watching some of the videos converted, no lags or delays doing it. Trash can problems no clue I always delete files and never use it. I would think your problems are a result of the nVidia graphics used.

Edit: Oh and during my testing I have been using a copy of my /home partition during it. It causes no problems doing it except with a Manjaro Arch setup. Their icon/.desktop files setup seems to be different and had to update some taskbar pinning with those to get the apps back displaying there. Everything else simply works and applies the settings contained in the .config directory to the applications that created them and my Firefox I run from extracted .tar file in my ~/bin directory just fires up and does its job.

Did you have all of these problems before you restored your /home directory? I just don’t see how a clean install could have all the same issues you had before. I can’t help but wonder if something is being imported into it through the config files.

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right many things may not be NVIDIA related.

The Desktop confinement (where some people like to place icons, which really is not what most devs do, its just kept there for ease of transition) is not as function rich as dolphin.

I suppose nobody simply ever tried to copy a path of the desktop, as its always the same. Or store videos there, which would also be untraditional.

Sorry to say but your habits may be a bit unconventional.

The full wastebin is probably simply not implemented, its just a singular icon. The “empty bin” icon used in the tab header when opening the wastebin has different stages though. This could be a wishlist bug on bugs.kde.org

glitchy drag&drop may be NVIDIA

I want to underline once more that I don’t have any (major) problem with the speed of the GUI in general, but solely in regards to how things work on the desktop.

Could you tell me which these things (configuration files) are? I’m currently completely “blind” as to what Debian could be doing which interferes with how KDE works.

While the desktop’s path doesn’t change, whatever is in my clipboard does change. I often need to get the path to a temporary file on the desktop, but unless I do it via Dolphin, I can’t.

And I don’t store videos long-term on the desktop. Again, the desktop is where I “work” with files that are currently relevant, such as having just arrived from the Internet by my video downloading scripts.

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I’m not saying that it cannot possibly be this, but I’m questioning why bad GPU drivers/support could affect such a specific part of the GUI as the desktop but not the other stuff (for the most part).

i would start by comparing the debian ecosystem of supporting packages to one of the KDE specific distros that are known to work well with the combination shown in the table… my guess is debian is behind on one or more of those and so you are picking up flack that has otherwise already been solved elsewhere.

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They do nothing to KDE but take the source code and put into a form which can be compiled into the packages they ship. There maybe be certain packages which have had patches applied you would need to check individually for them to see if there were any applied before the build process. But generally all the software they do is the same take the upstream as they call it and debianize the source. That is the process of adding the debian directory and all of the files in it that tell their build farm how to do it to have a proper package to install at the end of the process. They do add the wallpapers and the default color scheme, not much more than that though.

Whereas I did have some issues in some past with kde on debian I’m running kde on several debians ( regular, mx,sparky) and they work flawlessly. Can’t say the same with kubuntu 23.10 which, granted, it’s a first, is completely useless to me. There are bugs which, as far as I know, won’t be fixed till plasma 6 and I have a ton of scripts that make use of the stuff that is buggy right now so why would I even bother to use “a distro maintained specifically to present kde”. This “debian is only good for lxqt or xfce” narrative is total nonsense and I don’t even get the “put more effort into it to be polished”. If a desktop environment is only supposed to work on certain derivatives or distros, then by all means, put the warning on the tin. Maybe it’s just me, but I like a working rig, not a showcase.

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