How I broke KDE Plasma by changing my shell (and also writing a bad script)

My friends, I’d like to tell you the story of how I spent Monday morning. I had a one-on-one with my manager and a team coffee break to start the day. Since the weather was so nice, I thought I’d take my laptop and my coffee out to the deck. But when I tried to log in to my laptop, all I had was the mouse cursor. Oh no!

I did my meeting with my manager on my phone and then got to work trying to figure out what went wrong. I saw some errors in the journal, but it wasn’t clear to me what was wrong.

Aug 31 09:23:00 fpgm akonadi_control[5155]: org.kde.pim.akonadicontrol: ProcessControl: Application '/usr/bin/akonadi_googlecalendar_resource' returned with exit
code 253 (Unknown error)
Aug 31 09:23:00 fpgm akonadi_googlecalendar_resource[6249]: QObject::connect: No such signal QDBusAbstractInterface::resumingFromSuspend()
Aug 31 09:23:00 fpgm akonadiserver[5159]: org.kde.pim.akonadiserver: New notification connection (registered as Akonadi::Server::NotificationSubscriber(0x7f4d9c0
10140) )
Aug 31 09:23:00 fpgm akonadi_googlecalendar_resource[6249]: Icon theme "breeze" not found.
Aug 31 09:23:00 fpgm akonadiserver[5159]: org.kde.pim.akonadiserver: Subscriber Akonadi::Server::NotificationSubscriber(0x7f4d9c010140) identified as "AgentBaseC
hangeRecorder - 94433180309520"
Aug 31 09:23:01 fpgm akonadi_googlecalendar_resource[6249]: kf5.kservice.services: KMimeTypeTrader: couldn't find service type "KParts/ReadOnlyPart"  
                                                           Please ensure that the .desktop file for it is installed; then run kbuildsycoca5.

What broke

Before starting the weekend, I had updated all of the packages, as I normally did. But none of the updated packages seemed relevant. I hadn’t done any weird customization. As “pino|work” in IRC and I tried to work through it, I remembered that I had added a startup script to set the XDG_DATA_DIRS environment variable in the hopes of getting installed flatpaks to show up in the menu. (Hold on to this thought, it becomes important again later.)

I moved it out of the way to get things cleaned up (by removing the plasma-org.kde.plasma.desktop-appletsrc and plasmashellrc files). Looking at the script, I realized I had a syntax error (a stray single quote ended up in there) while trying to set XDG_DATA_DIRS. Yay! That’s easy enough to fix.

Why it broke

Except it was still broken. It was broken because I referred to XDG_DATA_DIRS but it was undefined. Why didn’t it inherit it? Ohhhhh because fish doesn’t use the /etc/profile.d directory.

So remember how I did this in order to get Flatpaks to show up in my start menu? I could have sworn they did at some point. It turns out that I was right. The flatpak package installs the scripts into /etc/profile.d, which fish doesn’t read. So when I switched my shell from Bash to fish a while ago, those scripts never ran at login.

How I “fixed” it

To fix my problem, I could have written scripts that work with fish. Instead, I decided to take the easy route and change my shell back to bash. But in order to keep using fish, I set Konsole to launch fish instead of bash. Since I only ever do a graphical login on my desktop, that’s no big deal, and it avoids a lot of headache.

The bummer of it all is that I lost some of the configuration I had in the files I deleted. But apparently the failed logins made it far enough to modify the files in a way that Plasma doesn’t like. At any rate, I didn’t do much customization, so I didn’t lose much either.

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