The "Right Way" To Modify System Files and Folders in KDE Since Dolphin Cannot Be Opened As Root

I have had a number of discussions with people about opening Dolphin as root. Some say its a blunder by the devs for eliminating this capability, some say its for security, some say something different but this is not the point of this post. I had posted a thread here how to open Dolphin with elevated privileges but it was removed by the forum moderators stating that I was causing others possible harm and further informed me that I am doing it all wrong and there is no reason to open a File Manger with elevated privs. Since others that are smarter then I have informed me that I am doing things incorrectly i am posting this thread to find out the right way to do the following task.

Other then doing it via the terminal (in which case I might just eliminate a GUI all together and I already know the mv or cp command and the absolute path) or using a different file manager, I don’t know how to do the following.

My question is this. I want to copy a folder titled “themes” from my backup drive to my file system under /usr/share/emerald but I need elevated privs to copy to that directory. So since i cannot open KDE’s default file manager as root, how would I copy this folder to this location “the right way”?


maybe you can use other file managers such as thunar, pcmanfm etc…just install it on your system first.

Any tool you would like, with the correct privileges.
For elevated privileges we usually use sudo in the terminal, and a common terminal copy tool is cp.

sudo cp /path/to/item /path/it/should/go/to

But since you want to copy the directory you are going to want to use -r for recursive:

sudo cp -r /path/to/item /path/it/should/go/to

Other copy tools might include rsync

If you need a GUI or something embedded in dolphin…

There is a package kde-servicemenus-rootactions which will give you cp/mv options ‘as root’ … or rather polkit. Though it should be updated/fixed/improved.

Other possibilities include creating something like this:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
# sudocp
# <3 cscs <3
GETZ=$(zenity --file-selection --multiple --window-icon=/usr/share/icons/Adwaita/scalable/actions --separator=' ' --confirm-overwrite --title="Select Files")
PUTZ=$(zenity --file-selection --directory --window-icon=/usr/share/icons/Adwaita/scalable/actions --confirm-overwrite --title="Select Destination")
printf "$GETZ" > /tmp/sudocplist.txt;
for PIXZ in $(cat /tmp/sudocplist.txt); do pkexec cp "$PIXZ" "$PUTZ"; done

As an example of ‘copy files’ with a gui file-picker and either use it as standalone application/script or integrate it into the dolphin service menus (right click option).


There really isn’t. One wrong clickety-click…:boom: And then the inevitable:

$distro/$de/$filemanager sucks, because it broke my system. 


Why do you feel that way? I’ve never used KDE…but isn’t there a shortcut to open a terminal? I mean, isn’t it a bit dramatic to “eliminate a GUI” for:

  • Shortcut key - open terminal
  • type a 1 line command
  • close terminal

I know how you feel… I have been a Windows user for about 10 years and just recently switched completely to Linux.
So using a GUI to Copy Paste things is how I am used to doing things, and I am sure many other noobs feel the same way. Although, I also understand that the command line has been the linux way of doing these things for years.
I usually install a different file manager that has the ability to have root privileges in GUI and get the job done.

But about that claim regarding the command line, I don’t understand how it’s more secure than GUI with root, if the user knows what they are doing in both cases.


Then you are just recreating the same problem.

Because of permissions, mistakes, and if you sudo GUI-APP you give root privileges to all of X.
sudo was never meant for graphical applications. It certainly is not properly compatible with X and never will be. There are probably even more concerns … but to do what you are talking about is so utterly broken no one has ever taken a full appraisal of all of its consequences.

Thats why KDE/Dolphin doesnt allow you to do it.
If you must then use polkit. And … surprise … the plasma devs are almost done implementing it properly.
So for anyone who refuses to learn the command line, and for some reason spends hours moving/copying system files, and requires a GUI file manager, (and somehow finds that faster for that giant workload) … then they can also just wait and one day it will be there from a dolphin update.


Thanks for that informative reply. I learned something.
I didn’t know it was such a security issue, so I was just casually installing a different file manager which allowed for rooted GUI.

If this is about this, you’re doing it wrong. These packages are available in AUR. Just Install the ones you want.

[mochobb@mocho-desktop ~]$ trizen -Ss emerald
aur/emerald 0.8.18-1 [37+] [0.00%] [28 Apr 2020]
    Emerald window decorator
aur/emerald-equinox-themes 20100324-1 [unmaintained] [2+] [0.00%] [29 Jul 2015]
    Equinox emerald themes
aur/emerald-git 0.8.14.r18.g93e490c-1 [7+] [0.00%] [5 Jun 2018]
    Emerald window decorator
aur/emerald-gtk3 0.8.18-2 [3+] [0.12%] [6 Nov 2020]
    Emerald window decorator
aur/emerald-gtk3-git 0.8.14.r18.g93e490c-1 [1+] [0.00%] [5 Jun 2018]
    Emerald window decorator
aur/emerald-icon-theme 20180202-1 [unmaintained] [0+] [0.00%] [2 Feb 2018]
    Fresh and simple personality icon theme
aur/emerald-icon-theme-git 2018.02.02.r18.ge2d3520-2 [0+] [0.00%] [18 Dec 2019]
    Fresh and simple personality icon theme
aur/emerald-theme-qaz-blue-vista 1.0-1 [0+] [0.00%] [2 Jul 2019]
    A blue vista theme for emerald.
aur/emerald-themes 0.8.18-1 [51+] [0.12%] [28 Apr 2020]
    Themes for emerald
aur/emerald-themes-git 0.8.14.r4.gb81f5f9-1 [3+] [0.00%] [5 Jun 2018]
    Themes for emerald
aur/emerald-wallet-bin 1.0.0-1 [out-of-date] [1+] [0.00%] [15 Jul 2018]
    Ethereum Classic Wallet
aur/qaz-blue-vista 1.0-1 [out-of-date] [unmaintained] [0+] [0.00%] [2 Jul 2019]
    A blue vista theme for emerald.
aur/xemeraldia 0.4.3-4 [0+] [0.00%] [19 May 2016]
    A Tetris-like falling blocks game

EDIT: user theme customization usually goes under ~/.local/. No need to mess with /usr/ manually.

1 Like

The more I participate in this forum, the more I don’t like it. Did you seriously just suggest to not modify my own system files and only use the ones available in the repository and that I’m doing it wrong because I want to use my own files and not files you guys make available?

I have a troth of stored emerald themes I’ve collected over the decades but there are a few nice themes in there. Thank you for the suggestion.

1 Like

Again, the best way would be to create a link in /usr/share/emerald/ to a folder in your home diretory. Better yet, you should ask the devs to take precedence from a folder in your home (in ex.: ~/.local/share/emerald) relatively to the system folder in /usr/, because that’s the proper way to do it.

As you already know what you want and how you want to achieve it, I’m closing this topic. Many answers were given to you. We try to give answers which keep the system organize and minimize accidental damage, but of course you’re free to do whatever you want. If you want to use a GUI FM as root then do it. You have plenty of options for this.


Yes. Because Packages are the preferred way. Its easier. Its updated. The system recognize the files so exchanges work (no ‘/some/file exists on system - failed to upgrade’), etc.
Stop trying to pretend like better practices are infringing on your freedoms.
Do whatever you want … but conventions do exist, whether you want to recognize them or not.