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I installed a very nice ~/.XCompose file (which I found on github). However, KDE apps at least do not use it unless I manually select XIM input mode on all the widgets.

Is there a way to specify this globally? Or at least to get it in konsole?

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Did you read the edubuntu wiki?
Please check whether "QT_IM_MODULE" and "GTK_IM_MODULE" are defined.

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