Newcomers and old-timers alike can benefit from a graphical point-and-click user interface. This chapter shows you how Red Hat Linux starts a graphical login screen so that you can stay in the graphical environment. This chapter also provides an overview of the GNOME and KDE graphical user interfaces and explains how to customize the appearance of X applications. The next chapter introduces you to common Linux applications.

By reading this chapter, you learn the following:

  • After Linux boots, a process named init starts all the other processes. The exact set of initial processes depends on the run level, which typically is a number ranging from 0 to 6. The /etc/inittab file specifies the processes that start at each run level. The /etc/inittab file specifies that a graphical display manager starts at run level 5. In Red Hat Linux, the GNOME Display Manager (gdm) provides the graphical login prompt. The Red Hat Linux installation program can set up a graphical login for you.

  • If you install KDE, you can opt to run the KDE Display Manager (KDM). To do so, add the line DISPLAYMANAGER="KDE" to the /etc/sysconfig/desktop file.

  • You can configure the initial graphical login screen through configuration files for gdm and kdm. For gdm, the configuration file is /etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf and for kdm, the file is /usr/share/config/kdm/kdmrc. This chapter explains both of these configuration files.

  • GNOME and KDE are two popular GUIs for Linux. Red Hat Linux comes with both GNOME and KDE, but your system starts with GNOME as the default GUI. You can use the switchdesk utility to change your default GUI to KDE.

  • Both GNOME and KDE are similar to other modern desktop environments, such as Apple Mac OS and Microsoft Windows. Therefore, you can easily learn to use GNOME and KDE. Both include control centers from which you can customize various aspects of the desktop, including the appearance.