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Applications don't stay locked with an activity

Mxxx
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I know I must be missing something, because I can't believe after all these years Activities still don't work properly. My problem is that applications I have configured to open in specific activities randomly appear either on my "Desktop" activity or ALL activities. Initially, I pinned/locked applications by right-clicking on the title bar and choosing the appropriate activity. One would think that would be all it takes. Evidently not, as while searching for a solution I came across "Special Application Settings" deeper down in the pop-up menu where the activity could also be selected. So I clicked on the checkbox and selected "Remember". Still not enough. Logging out then back in causes applications to switch to either the wrong activity or ALL activities in what can only be described as a random manner, since it doesn't always occur and I am unable to detect any pattern.

After all these years, are Activities still broken? I've been with Plasma since 4.6 and am now on 5.12 and this problem remains. I'd go back to virtual desktops if I could only change the wallpaper, but the devs removed that option with KDE 4.

Last edited by Mxxx on Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.
airdrik
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I've used Activities quite extensively on Kubuntu 14.04 w/ KDE 4 as well as some testing in PCLinuxOS - Plasma 5.12.5, Frameworks 5.46.0, Qt 5.10.0

Overall, I've found that window management with Activities behaves very similarly to window management with Virtual Desktops. Windows opened on a certain Activity/VD will remain on that Activity/VD until reassigned to another Activity/VD. Those Activity and VD assignments are associated with that window and don't necessarily apply to all instances of that application, nor are they remembered when the window is closed. So if you assign a window for an application to one Activity and then launch that same application from another Activity then the second window will open on the second Activity.
Furthermore, whatever windows are open when you stop an Activity should be reopened when you start it. Similarly, any windows open on different Activities when you log out should be reopened on the same Activities when you log back in. This even applies to the states of the different windows for a given application, such as kate/kwrite documents, dolphin locations and browser tabs (ymmv, as it may depend on the application as to how well it handles this, but I know for sure KDE apps and FireFox handle this correctly)

You can use window and application rules to assign applications to Activities (or VDs) which should give you the kind of Pinning behavior that it looks like you want where it will remember and/or reassign windows opened for a given application on the same Activity. You can set these up by right-clicking on the titlebar of the window and selecting More Actions -> Special Application Settings; then under the Size and Position tab check Activity and set up how you want that application to behave.

You can also pin shortcuts in the task manager to specific Activities. Doing this means that the icon for that application will show up whenever you are on that Activity regardless of if the application is open on that Activity or not. (regardless of being pinned to an activity, the icon will still show up when you are on the Activity (and desktop) where the application is open).


If this is not the behavior you have been seeing, it's possible there is something up with some residual configs or something. You can verify that by creating a fresh user and testing this stuff out in that session. Also keep in mind that some applications don't always respect the Activity assignments and may do their own thing.


If you do find that Activities is not for you, looks like there is a plugin called Vallpaper which allows you to set per-desktop wallpapers. (I believe I recall having seen one or two other widgets or plugins on the kde store which provide similar functionality in addition to whatever primary functionality they provide, so you can always peruse the selection to see if there is anything else there)


airdrik, proud to be a member of KDE forums since 2008-Dec.
Mxxx
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airdrik wrote:I've used Activities quite extensively on Kubuntu 14.04 w/ KDE 4 as well as some testing in PCLinuxOS - Plasma 5.12.5, Frameworks 5.46.0, Qt 5.10.0

If this is not the behavior you have been seeing, it's possible there is something up with some residual configs or something. You can verify that by creating a fresh user and testing this stuff out in that session. Also keep in mind that some applications don't always respect the Activity assignments and may do their own thing.

If you do find that Activities is not for you, looks like there is a plugin called Vallpaper which allows you to set per-desktop wallpapers. (I believe I recall having seen one or two other widgets or plugins on the kde store which provide similar functionality in addition to whatever primary functionality they provide, so you can always peruse the selection to see if there is anything else there)


I tried everything you suggested before posting to this forum. Applications randomly open across all activities, not just the ones they've been pinned to (using all available methods of doing that--shouldn't there be just a single setting for this?) All will be well for a few sessions, and then the problem returns. In total frustration I finally went back to virtual desktops. That appeared to solve the problem, but after about a week of use applications started popping up across all VDs. All the relevant applications are native KDE apps, which makes it doubly frustrating. I went back through the config files I could identify and deleted everything that appeared dated/obsolete. No change in behavior.

I've reported this bug (via Debian) several times and have received absolutely no feedback. I've seriously begun to look at other desktops, after nearly 20 years with KDE (yes, since v1).
airdrik
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Have you tried creating a new user and testing using that? That can be helpful in identifying if the problem has to do with configuration.


airdrik, proud to be a member of KDE forums since 2008-Dec.
Mxxx
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airdrik wrote:Have you tried creating a new user and testing using that? That can be helpful in identifying if the problem has to do with configuration.


I created a new user. Since the problem is intermittent/random I had to spend a lot of time setting things up to make the system usable over a period of time. Problem exists for new user as well. I guess I either live with it, or move to a different UI.
airdrik
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You might also report the behavior to bugs.kde.org, where you'll likely get more detailed feedback and potentially get the problem fixed.


airdrik, proud to be a member of KDE forums since 2008-Dec.
Mxxx
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airdrik wrote:You might also report the behavior to bugs.kde.org, where you'll likely get more detailed feedback and potentially get the problem fixed.


I submitted a bug report via the Debian folks, since that's the distro I'm using. Also, the KDE people require yet another login account to report bugs. Seems counterproductive to me. Anyway, I never received any feedback or request for additional info from the Debian KDE folks.
Mxxx
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Sometimes I just feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone when dealing with computer problems. Having failed to correct the problem with Activities by deleting what appeared to be outdated configuration files, I tried creating a new user to see if the problem had anything to do with any remaining configuration files. I had the same problem with the new user, namely applications pinned to specific Activities would randomly appear on ALL Activities. This led me to the obvious conclusion the problem had nothing to do with configuration files.

I deleted the new user account, which was now unnecessary. Some time afterwards, upon rebooting my computer various errors started to appear. Some, if not all, had something to do with systemd. A number of services failed to start for no apparent reason. Up to this point, my system had been rock solid. No changes to the system were made previously, except those noted above. I tried manually restarting some of the failed services, but was only successful with one and I was left with nothing but a console prompt and a read-only file system.

At that point I said f$ck it. I downloaded an install image using my laptop, burned it to a CD and performed a clean system install, preserving my home directory and all its configuration files. After a couple of hours installing and configuring all the various applications I use I was left with my desktop exactly as before. Same problem with Activities. Since Activities in their current state were useless to me, I decided to delete them.

The first Activity I deleted was the one that was least used (SystemInfo). To my surprise, my Desktop Activity (the original Default, renamed) went black. That is, the wallpaper disappeared. I reapplied the wallpaper then went back into the list of Activities only to find that the Activity that was deleted WAS the Desktop Activity, NOT the SystemInfo Activity. Furthermore, because the Desktop Activity no longer existed, I had been thrown into another Activity.

Obviously, something very odd was going on. I continued deleting Activities until I was left with nothing but the system default. Out of curiosity, I recreated all the Activities I had before and repopulated them with all the applications I had before. Since then, everything has been working flawlessly. Applications are staying pinned to their Activity. I've spent the last few days repeatedly logging in and logging out trying to force the original problem, but the problem seems to have magically solved itself.

And here is the key point. Given the above, one would be inclined to think the problem existed in one or more configuration files related to Activity management. However, the previous experiment to test that hypothesis, namely creating a new user with a fresh set of configuration files, belies that conclusion, since the new user had the exact same problem I was having.

None of this makes a bit of sense to me, but my system is now working (fingers crossed) and overall performance has also improved noticeably. F$ck me.

And lest anyone go there, during the course of trying to solve the problem I spent many hours testing physical memory, checking for drive errors, etc. as well as cleaning out applications no longer in use, weeks before any of the above occurred. Never found a problem, or experienced any other problem except the issue with Activities and the eventual inexplicable system failure.
Mxxx
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It seems the KDE application "KInfocenter" (Info Center) is the culprit causing applications to randomly appear across ALL Activities. I restored all my Activities per my last post, except one I used for Info Center. No problem. As soon as I created a new Activity and pinned Info Center to it, the problem returned. I've sent this additional info to the Debian folks as an addendum to my original bug report.
airdrik
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If you are willing, would you also post the report to bugs.kde.org? KInfocenter being a KDE app oughtn't cause such misbehavior, but identifying that the problems start when using that will go a long way towards finding and fixing whatever the actual problem is.


airdrik, proud to be a member of KDE forums since 2008-Dec.
Mxxx
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airdrik wrote:If you are willing, would you also post the report to bugs.kde.org? KInfocenter being a KDE app oughtn't cause such misbehavior, but identifying that the problems start when using that will go a long way towards finding and fixing whatever the actual problem is.


Of course I would have made a report directly to the KDE folks, if they didn't make it so difficult. I already have a forum account, but KDE want me to create YET ANOTHER account just to report a bug.

With Debian, no account of any kind is required to report a bug. I just use their bug reporting application "reportbug", as I did in this case. Hopefully, the people supporting KDE on Debian will push my bug report upstream. That at least is what I would expect. I would also expect the KDE devs to pay attention to the KDE forums.

I see absolutely no reason to add to the number of online accounts I'm already forced to manage. </rant>
airdrik
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I hear ya.
A bunch of the KDE devs used to peruse the forum regularly and were very helpful with explaining things and resolving issues, but a while ago a most of them abandoned the forums to focus more on coding.

phabricator.kde.org uses the KDE identity (same as the forum), so you should be able to log in and report the issue there without needing a new account. (my hesitance for suggesting to post bug reports there is that as I understand it they still want people using bugs.kde.org for bug reporting and reserve phabricator for feature requests)


airdrik, proud to be a member of KDE forums since 2008-Dec.
Mxxx
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This is still a problem. I'm now on Plasma 5.13.4 and applications still randomly appear on ALL activities. This has been going on for well over a year. Basically, Activities are completely useless. Ironic, given that Activities were the primary reason for a major revamp of KDE.
3akycka
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Hi,
I'm just starting on linux/manjaro/kde, and the main reason I'd like to use it is activities. But I get exactly the same problem, applications, dolphin... etc are all appearing randomly from an activy to an other when I restart computer. Any news about that thing ?
kloop
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Forget about Activities, they are still broken.

And so are Plasmoids, in case you wonder. Trying to get them to remember their position/size is a task Sisyphus himself would shy away from.

Oh, and don't forget if you are using network shares that Dolphin will take down the whole desktop with it should any of them go away and Dolphin locks up.

How do I know? I use KDE since the dawn of time and actually like it. Except it's a mixed bag since Plasma 4, which is now in 2020 still the most feature complete version ever (you could tab windows then, configure a nice glow for active window and plasmoids mostly stayed in place). There was indeed a LOT OF POLISH in Plasma 5, and I love it, but the foundation is still somewhat shaky.

For example:
I'm forced to use Activities because every time I plug in an external TV, the whole desktop spasms and randomly shuffles all plasmoids around. I found out that when I use an exclusive Activity for just turning on the TV, it leaves the other Activity in peace. Most of the time. It still resets a lot of plasmoid sizes every time I restart the system, and if I'm really lucky, it will also reset the dpi settings which results in tiny, tiny unreadable pixel lines that are actually fonts. But it kind of works if you meticulously keep only one monitor attached at boot.

There is also zero feedback from developers in forums, shy of the random fanboy that chastises you for posting something non-positive.

I started to suspect that there are actually no developers left since bugs go unfixed for years on end and most of the updates in the last couple of years have been of a cosmetic nature.

I just posted this today after returning from a TV session the evening prior and switching back to my "main" activity. Except, it stopped working overnight (again *sighs*). Plasma was wholly unresponsive, only windows could be moved (and so no activity switch possible). So I do the usual dance of restarting plasmashell and kwin, but no luck this time. Completely locked up. Frustrated I booted up my other server which brought up some NFS shares that finally made Plasma responsive again. Which is interesting in itself because none of the shares where mounted in the first place. I've learned my lessons and won't let Plasma stay alone with shares for more than a couple of hours. Of course various Plasmoids where misplaced and resized again, but I came accustomed to resetting them in the morning as a daily ritual.

Fun fact: I would actually be an evangelist for Plasma because I like KDE since it's 3.x days. But I can't in good conscience recommend that to anyone I don't hate. I put up with it because I still think it's worth it, but should an alternative arise... well.

If you are somewhat of a masochist and don't balk at tinkering from time to time, I'd say give it a go regardless. _If_ it works it's hands down the best DE I know, including Windows and Mac.

 
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