How-To: Make KDE Elementary

This post has been a long time coming. Unfortunately, I got quite busy near the end of this past semester, so I could neither publish this nor put a respin ISO file out there (which is originally what I wanted to do, but once again I quickly got too busy).

Configuring Panels
Basically, the reason for me writing is because most similar tutorials have focused on GNOME and Xfce as the base DEs. I haven't seen any using KDE as the base DE, which is a shame considering how customizable KDE is.

The distribution I used to write this tutorial was Linux Mint 10 "Julia" KDE, but this can probably be done easily with any distribution that packages KDE well, though your mileage may vary. Follow the jump to see what to do. Most of these steps can be done in any order, though if a particular set of steps must be done in a certain order, I will try to make that as clear as possible.

In terms of theming, the themes to be changed are the Plasma, KWin, and icon themes. The Plasma theme should be changed to Oxygen (a dark theme) through the KDE System Settings Panel in the "Workspace" category. This theme is typically included in KDE distributions, but if it isn't, there's a button/link in that category to install it. The KWin theme should be changed to Oxygen as well; typically, this is the default theme, but if it is not, it can be used by configuring the "Workspace Appearance" category. The icon theme should be changed to Elementary. That theme can be downloaded from KDE-Look; it can then by installed in the "Application Appearance" category, though if the compressed file cannot be installed, it may be necessary to first extract the main folder from the compressed file. You may need to log out and log back in for all the changes to be applied.
Changing Icon Theme
One other thing to do after installing the icon theme is to change the 'K' menu icon to an 'e' as in the Elementary OS desktop. To do this, right-click that menu button, browse for the correct icon in "Places" when changing the icon, and apply that change.
Another thing to do is to move the window title and icon to the right side, just to the left of the window control buttons. This can be done in the same place as changing the KWin theme.

The second big change will be replacing the single panel on the bottom with a panel ("WingPanel") on top and a dock on the bottom. The first thing to do is to remove all the widgets from the existing panel except for the menu and to move that panel to the top, and then add a second panel to the bottom.
Changing Menu Button Icon
Next, it is certainly possible to use something like Docky or AWN for the dock in KDE, but I prefer a native KDE solution. Install the Smooth-Tasks Plasmoid; this is typically done through the distribution's package manager, but if it isn't available there, you are probably using a distribution that essentially requires you to be skilled enough to compile your own code. Once that is installed, add it to the left side of the bottom panel. Also note that the bottom panel should be of standard height, though of course this is up to you at the end of the day. If you want, you can also add application shortcuts to Smooth-Tasks by dragging the application shortcuts to that area of the bottom panel.
Next, on the top panel, add a "Show Desktop" icon, a clock, and a weather widget. Align the panel to the left, make it as narrow (horizontal width) as possible, and make it as thin (vertical width) as the window titlebars.
Add a system tray to the right side of either the top or bottom panel, depending on your preference, though it may look better on the thicker bottom panel.

The third thing to do is to modify the application menubars. The most preferable option is to install the Oxygen-Appmenu modification from KDE-Look, following the instructions on that page. Please note that it requires compilation of code. If that doesn't work for your distribution (as was true for me in Linux Mint 10 "Julia") or if you don't feel comfortable compiling code, another option is to simply go through every application and hide the menubar (CTRL+M in most KDE applications) if possible; the third option is to add the "Window Menubar" widget to the top panel, adjusting that panel's width as necessary.
Adding Smooth-Tasks to Panel

One last "bonus" thing is to replace the regular "Desktop" or "Folder View" Activity with a "Search & Launch" Activity, akin to the upcoming Elementary OS "Slingshot" application launcher. This can be done by right-clicking on the desktop and clicking "[Desktop/Folder View] Activity Settings" in that menu. If you really want to go the extra mile, you could replace the menu button on the left side of the top panel with a widget to start/stop a "Search & Launch" Activity when clicked. Please note that I have not tried this for myself, so do this at your own risk.

Ta-dah! You now hopefully have a working Elementary-style KDE session. I hope you like it!