Jan 17, 2017

Integrate Your Android Device With Ubuntu Using KDE Connect Indicator Fork

KDE Connect is a tool which allows your Android device to integrate with your Linux desktop. With KDE Connect Indicator, you can use KDE Connect on desktop that support AppIndicators, like Unity, Xfce (Xubuntu), and so on.

KDE Connect Indicator

The original KDE Connect Indicator hasn't been updated in about 2 year however, Steeven Lopes forked it, getting it to work with recent Ubuntu versions, while also adding various improvements:
  • support sending multiple files from the indicator;
  • new feature to find your phone;
  • new icons;
  • open KDE Connect settings from the indicator device status menu item;
  • added extensions for Nautilus, Caja and Nemo, which allow sending files from the file manager context menu;
  • bug fixes.
If you're not familiar with KDE Connect, here are some of its features:
  • display Android 4.3+ notifications on your desktop (I recommend Recent Notifications so you don't miss important notifications);
  • send and receive files (by default, the files are saved in ~/Downloads on the desktop and in the kdeconnect folder on the Android device);
  • share clipboard between your Android device and desktop;
  • allows using the Android device as a remote for Linux media players;
  • use your phone screen as your computer's touchpad;
  • uses TLS sockets encryption.

Here are a few screenshots of the KDE Connect Android app:

KDE Connect 1.0.x includes some new features, like triggering custom commands (you set this up on the desktop using the KDE Connect configuration, then launch them from the mobile device), displaying desktop notifications on the Android device (this plugin is disabled by default and you'll have to enable it on both the desktop and Android device to use it), and replying to SMS messages from the desktop. The SMS reply feature is not yet supported by KDE Connect Indicator.

The KDE Connect Indicator fork PPA only has packages for Ubuntu 16.04 (including KDEConnect 1.0, required by indicator). However, I've installed the packages in Ubuntu 16.10 and they installed successfully and everything worked, except browsing the device - but this didn't work in my Ubuntu 16.04 test either.

Sending and receiving files, displaying notifications on the desktop, shared clipboard, using the Android device to control media players or as the computer's touchpad, and so on, all worked in my test.

I should also mention that the indicator may disappear when the phone is in sleep mode, but it shows up again when you receive a notification or use your Android device.

Install KDE Connect Indicator fork in Ubuntu

Important: Before installing KDE Connect Indicator, it's important to mention that it depends on kdeconnect, a KDE package which will install quite a few KDE dependencies. If later on you want to remove KDE Connect and KDE Connect Indicator, you may want to save the list of packages which are installed by running the "apt install" command below, and manually remove those packages after you remove KDE Connect ("apt-get autoremove" won't work).

To be able to use KDE Connect Indicator, you'll need to install the KDE Connect application on your Android device.

Ubuntu 16.04: Steeven's KDE Connect Indicator fork is available in a PPA for Ubuntu 16.04. To add the PPA and install the indicator, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:varlesh-l/indicator-kdeconnect
sudo apt update
sudo apt install indicator-kdeconnect kdeconnect

Ubuntu 16.10: There are currently no Ubuntu 16.10 packages in the PPA, but you can add the PPA in Ubuntu 16.10 and change it to use the Ubuntu 16.04 packages. To do this and install KDE Connect Indicator in Ubuntu 16.10, use the commands below:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:varlesh-l/indicator-kdeconnect
sudo sed -i 's/yakkety/xenial/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/varlesh-l-ubuntu-indicator-kdeconnect-yakkety.list
sudo apt update
sudo apt install indicator-kdeconnect kdeconnect

Arch Linux users can install KDE Connect Indicator (git) via AUR (it uses the new fork).

Once installed, launch KDE Connect Indicator from the menu / dash. For pairing it with your Android device, see below.

Note: if you had an older version of KDEConnect installed before installing the version from the PPA, you may need to restart your system before KDE Connect Indicator works properly.

For source code, bug reports, see the KDE Connect Indicator fork GitHub page.

Pairing your Android device with KDE Connect Indicator

There are two ways you can pair KDE Connect Indicator with your Android device:
a) click "Request pairing" from the KDE Connect Indicator on your desktop, then accept the request from your phone;
b) select the desktop device from the KDE Connect application on your Android device, click "Request pairing, then on the desktop click "Request pairing" from the KDE Connect Indicator menu.

Thanks to Alex for the tip!

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