Why do some task manager items/groups get highlighted orange on startup?

When KDE Plasma starts, I launch a bunch of applications in my startup script. They start.

However, there is something very annoying happening: seemingly random ones (but usually mpv, VirtualBox, Krita and Dolphin) get painted orange, as if to indicate that they “want attention”, or something similar. I’m unsure what the colour highlight really indicates.

Thankfully, they don’t blink or animate, but are still very distracting. I don’t want any of them highlighted. Some are individual, one-window applications (such as mpv), and others are “program groups” with several instances of the application open (such as VirtualBox and Dolphin). For the latter, I have to first click on the group and then on the individual sub-item for the orange highlight to go away.


  1. Why does this happen, and not consistently for the same applications?
  2. How do I prevent it, or is there some terminal command to “remove the orange highlight” (simulate clicking/focusing them)?

Minimized/maximized/unmaximized/active…the usual, the normal task behaviour. You could try, for example, fancy tasks as an alternative, but it’s a third party thing so… If you’re using default ( which I’m pretty sure you are) the color is defined by your color scheme and it has a couple of settings. Not much, not like an ebola class third part one, but it does have some.

Huh? What does this mean?

Does it happen if you launch your apps not using a custom startup script, but rather by adding them one-by-one in System Settings’ Autostart page? Can you try that and see if it helps?

Well, I have now added Krita to that autostart thing and commented it out in my script. It will take a few days to make sure it doesn’t start up with orange highlight, though. But even if this solves it, it doesn’t make sense to me. Why does it matter if it’s my script doing it or not?

I don’t know. I’d have to see your startup script to be able to have a chance at figuring it out. The point is, if there’s a difference between what happens when using the normal supported method and when using your custom hand-rolled method, that becomes a data point we can use to figure out what’s going on. The contents of the script itself might provide other clues. This is how we troubleshoot an issue.

Well, the (PHP CLI) script ultimately starts the programs like this:

exec('setsid -f krita >/dev/null 2>&1 &');

(The setsid -f part was added because otherwise, the programs launched from the script would close whenever the script finished. This caused a long period of confusion and headaches for me before I figured it out.)

I want to stress that the “orangeness” appears to vary from startup to startup, as well as the “grouping” in the case of two instances of the same program launched with different parameters, such as is the case for VirtualBox (I open two different VMs on boot).

I have now started up the machine enough times to pretty safely conclude that the “official KDE autostart” way appears to indeed not make the program I tried (Krita) highlighted orange. It starts Krita maximized and focused.

What to make of this? What is wrong with my command? It’s getting very annoying to see those random orange highlights on startup until I click them all. (Same thing with the oddly ungrouped VirtualBox instances.)

I don’t know. It sounds like it’s fairly complex though; why use PHP? Even just a Bash script would likely be more reliable. Since you’ve found that using the standard method works, I’d suggest sticking with it. :slight_smile: This is distro and DE agnostic, by the way. Autostart is governed by a FreeDesktop spec that all DEs to my knowledge conform to.

Because my system is in PHP?

More reliable? It runs a terminal command. It’s the same thing no matter what language is used. What are you talking about? Is this yet another case of mindless PHP hating that I have to endure everywhere I go? I’m so sick of that…

I neither want nor can use “the standard method”. Things have to be done in the correct order, disks have to be decrypted/mounted before, and I don’t want to lock myself into KDE (or any environment) forever for no good reason.

What command is KDE itself doing to prevent the orange highlight? I still don’t even know what the orange highlight means, or why it would ever happen.

I don’t think I can help you anymore, sorry. Personally, my general focus is on making the system behave correctly when it’s used as designed–and believe you me, this is no mean feat! :wink: I’ll let someone else who has more of an interest in helping people to craft DIY solutions step in now.

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Well, it’s not like I’m doing it “DIY” just for fun, but rather out of necessity.