Today, Linux desktops have diverged to the point where exchanging one for another can feel like switching to another operating system. KDE is no exception. Although it remains the single most popular desktop, a higher percentage of desktops use GNOME technology, and for many users of GNOME, Linux Mint, or Unity, KDE might hardly exist.
At most, users of GNOME technology might have a vague impression of KDE. If pressed, they might say that KDE is configurable to a fault and offers a daunting array of features, in contrast to GNOME's minimalist approach. Too often, they dismiss KDE as being concerned only with eye-candy, claiming that GNOME is all about efficiency.
However, the awareness rarely goes further. Faced with a problem to solve, users of GNOME, Mint, or Unity will rarely think of KDE as an alternative, despite the fact that most KDE apps run almost as well in these interfaces as in KDE.
This limited vision is unfortunate, because KDE includes many features that have no counterpart in any corner of the GNOME ecosystem. For example, you can:
Virtual desktops are standard on the major Linux desktops. In most cases, a similar widget, configurable by rows and columns, is used to manage them. However, only KDE allows you to configure them separately.
Go to the menu, and select Settings -> System Settings -> Workspace Behavior -> Virtual Desktops -> Different widgets for each desktop box. Immediately, you'll be able to give each workspace its own widgets and wallpapers. You'll have no trouble telling your virtual desktops apart, and you can customize them for different purposes. In effect, you'll be able to use Virtual desktops in much the same way as you would Activities.
In KDE, interfaces are a separate sub-system. This arrangement makes it easy to change the desktop layout. From Desktop Settings -> View -> Layout on the desktop's right-click menu, you can select a traditional desktop, a Search and Launch menu (originally Plasma Netbook), a Newspaper Launch designed to arrange widgets in columns, and several more.
Unfortunately, desktop layouts lack documentation, so you'll need to experiment with them to learn exactly what distinguishes them. However, once you learn about them, you can set up Virtual Desktops or Activities differently for each of the tasks that you do.
For example, you can set up one Newspaper Launch desktop for news, time, and weather, and another one for monitoring your hardware. Another could be a Folder View set to display the directory where you keep your working files. A fourth could be your main desktop, set to display the Desktop directory.
Many other desktops are de-emphasizing the desktop, limiting the icons you can place on them to templates and documents assuming that you can add any at all.
By contrast, KDE not only continues to allow any sort of launcher on the desktop, but allows you to exchange icon sets quickly.
To take advantage of this feature, right-click on the desktop and select Desktop Settings -> View -> Layout -> Folder View. Drop down to the Location tab, and you can display any folder in your home directory. If you want a traditional desktop, select Show the Desktop folder.
To use multiple sets of icons, you have two choices. The simplest is to create additional top level folders to which you add icons for a specific task. The only drawback of this method is that each icon displays with a suffix of .desktop.
The second method is add each set of icons to the Desktop folder with a distinguishing suffix or prefix, and then reveal or hide each set using the Filter tab.
Either way, you can easily change icons within ten seconds.