5.2 Using the KDE Desktop

As explained at the beginning of this chapter, Red Hat Linux initially included only GNOME; however, it now supports both GNOME and KDE. Figure 5-13 shows KDE's desktop. If your system is configured to use GNOME and you want to launch a KDE session, select KDE from the Session menu of the system login screen. Of course, KDE must be installed in order for this to work.

Figure 5-13. The KDE desktop

5.2.1 The KDE Desktop

KDE has a main menu icon in its panel, at the lower left of the screen. The icon is identical to that associated with GNOME's main menu, a red hat. Clicking the icon reveals a menu that includes a Logout menu item. You can use the Logout menu item to terminate KDE.

Right-clicking the KDE desktop causes a pop-up menu to appear. From this menu, you can create desktop shortcuts and perform a variety of other functions. The desktop includes a variety of icons and folders. The specific icons and folders that appear may vary depending on the software installed on your system and your KDE configuration. The most common icons are described in the following subsections. Start Here icon

By double-clicking the Start Here icon, you can launch Konqueror, KDE's file manager, to view a folder that contains several useful icons. Double-clicking any icon in the folder launches a window containing icons that provide access to KDE facilities. You can access the same facilities by using the KDE menu. The icons within the Start Here folder include:


The Applications icon lets you launch various applications.


The Preferences icon provides access to a folder containing icons that enable you to view and modify a variety of preferences, including those for the desktop, document handlers, user interface look and feel, multimedia, and peripherals.

Server Settings

The Server Settings icon provides access to tools for configuring servers, such as Apacheconf, a tool for configuring the Apache web server.

System Settings

The System Settings icon provides access to tools for viewing and modifying the system configuration. Home Directory icon

The Home Directory icon enables you to view your home directory by using KDE's file manager, Konqueror. Drive icons

If you have permission to mount a CD-ROM or floppy drive, your desktop includes an icon representing the drive. If you click the icon, a pop-up menu appears. If your system is configured to do so, it will automatically mount media. However, you can use the menu to manually mount or unmount media. Right-clicking the drive icon lets you eject or unmount the media. Trash icon

Clicking the Trash icon lets you view the contents of the folder in which KDE stores files moved to the Trash bin by Konqueror. Files deleted by the rm command are not stored in the trash; they are immediately deleted. The KDE Panel

KDE's panel normally appears along the bottom edge of the display. However, you can relocate it by dragging it to a side or the top edge of the display. The panel normally contains the main menu icon, launchers, the pager, the task list, the clipboard tool, the alert notification tool, and the clock.

Moving your mouse over an icon in the Panel displays a message informing you of the icon's function.

Main menu icon

As mentioned, the main menu icon features a red hat. Left-clicking the main menu presents a menu from which you can choose a variety of programs. Several of the menu items are submenus; selecting such a menu item pops up a new menu to the side of the original menu item.

Web browser

Launches the Mozilla web browser.


Launches the Evolution email client, described in Chapter 6.

OpenOffice Writer

Launches the OpenOffice word processor, described in Chapter 6.

OpenOffice Impress

Launches the OpenOffice presentation creator, described in Chapter 6.

OpenOffice Calc

Launches the OpenOffice spreadsheet, described in Chapter 6.


Like GNOME, KDE features a virtual desktop that's larger than your system's monitor. The pager lets you navigate the virtual desktop. By default, one of four virtual desktop pages is visible. The four pager buttons let you select a different desktop page. The button that shows window contents rather than a numeral indicates the page you're currently viewing as your desktop. To view a different page, simply left-click the button that represents the desktop page you want to view.

Task list

The task list contains a button for each active task. Clicking a task's button raises the task's window to the front of the screen so you can view it.

Clipboard Tool

The clipboard lets you view and manipulate the contents of KDE's clipboard, which holds text during copy-and-paste or cut-and-paste operations.

Alert Notification Tool

Alerts you when errata or updates are available via Red Hat Network.


The KDE clock gives the current date and time.

5.2.2 Using Konqueror

Konqueror is KDE's file manager and web browser. When you click the icon that resembles a small house superimposed on a larger file folder, Konqueror displays the contents of your /home folder, as shown in Figure 5-14.

Figure 5-14. Konqueror displaying the contents of a folder

By clicking the Tree View icon, which is the rightmost icon, which is on Konqueror's toolbar, you can cause Konqueror to display information in a format that resembles the familiar two-pane layout used by the Microsoft Windows Explorer and GNOME's Nautilus. Figure 5-15 shows Konqueror in Tree View.

Figure 5-15. Konqueror's detailed mode in Tree View

Konqueror can be used to move, copy, rename, and delete files and folders. You can perform these and other file operations in a variety of ways. To rename a file, right-click on the file's icon and select Rename from the pop-up menu. Simply type the new name and press Enter. To delete a file, right-click on the file and select Delete from the pop-up menu. A dialog box asks you to confirm your decision.

You can move, copy, or delete multiple files in a single operation. Select the files by holding down the Ctrl key as you select them one at a time. Alternatively, you can click and drag the cursor around a group of files. To move or copy the selected files, simply drag them to the new location. When you release the mouse, a pop-up menu lets you specify whether you want to move or copy the files.

Rather than move or copy a file, you can use the pop-up menu to create a link. Konqueror lets you click on a link to launch an application on the file associated with the link. Alternatively, you can right-click on the file or link and select Open With from the pop-up menu. KDE launches a dialog box that lets you specify the application that should be launched.

5.2.3 Using KDE Terminal

Similar to the MS-DOS Prompt window, the KDE terminal, also known as Konsole, provides a window in which you can type shell commands and view their output. To launch KDE terminal, you can select System Tools Terminal from the KDE menu. You can open multiple KDE terminal windows if you like.

The Settings menu lets you configure the operation of KDE terminal. For example, you may find that the default font is too large or too small for your liking. If so, select Settings Font from the KDE terminal window. Then simply select the font size you prefer.

To exit KDE Terminal, simply type exit on the command line and press Enter. Alternatively, select Quit from the File menu or type Ctrl-D.

5.2.4 Configuring KDE

KDE is highly configurable. This section explains how to use the KDE Panel, the KDE Control Panel, the KDE Control Center, and the KDE menu editor. The KDE Panel

It's simple to add a launcher icon to the KDE Panel. Right-click on the Panel, select Add from the pop-up menu, and choose a program from the menu that appears. To remove a launcher from the Panel, right-click the launcher and select Remove from the pop-up menu.

If your panel contains many launchers, it may become crowded and confusing. To remedy this, you can create a child panel, like that shown at the bottom in Figure 5-16 under the main panel. Right-click the Panel and select Add Extension Child Panel. You can move the child panel to a different edge of the screen by dragging its hide panel?the arrowhead that appears at one end of the child panel?to the desired location. Launchers can be added to a child panel, just as you add them to the Panel. To remove a child panel and its contents, right-click the hide button at the end of the child panel and select Remove from the pop-up menu.

Figure 5-16. A child panel
figs/rh3_0516.gif The KDE Control Center

You can launch the KDE Control Center by choosing Control Center from the KDE main menu. Figure 5-17 shows the KDE Control Center.

Figure 5-17. The KDE Control Center

The Control Center user interface features two panes. The left pane presents a hierarchically structured set of configuration categories, and the right pane displays information pertaining to the current choice. Control Center categories include:

About Myself

Lets you specify your name and other information that resides in the /etc/passwd file

File Browsing

Lets you configure file associations, Konqueror (file manager) options, and the copy and move operations


Lets you browse hardware devices and running services

Login Photo

Lets you specify a photo that appears on the login screen (this feature is not enabled by default)

Look & Feel

Lets you configure the desktop background, colors, behavior, and related properties


Lets you configure your email identity, KDE LAN browser options, network options, and SOCKS proxy client options


Lets you change your password


Lets you configure a digital camera, keyboard, and mouse


Lets you configure accessibility options, localization options (keyboard and display character sets), encryption options, KDE terminal options, password recall, the KDE session manager, and the spelling checker

Pilot/Handspring Tool

Lets you synchronize local files with a personal digital assistant (PDA)

Power Control

Lets you configure power management options


Lets you configure audio sources, levels, and other options


Lets you configure KDE's alarm, login, and printing features

Web Browsing

Lets you configure Konqueror and Mozilla web browser options

Simply select the configuration category by clicking in the left pane. You can then revise the configuration parameters by specifying the desired values in the right pane. The contents of the right pane vary depending on the current selection in the left pane. Adding an application link

You can easily add to your desktop an icon called an application link that lets you launch an application with a double click. To do so, right-click the desktop and select Create New Link to Application from the pop-up menu. The Properties for Program dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 5-18.

Figure 5-18. The Properties for Program dialog box

In the General tab, type a name for your link, replacing the text "Link to Application." Then, click the Execute tab and the Browse button. An Open dialog box appears. Use it to navigate to the program file you want to launch, click to select the file's icon, and click OK. The Properties for Program dialog box reappears. If the program you chose isn't an X program, enable the checkbox titled Run in terminal. Finally, click OK to close the Properties for Program dialog box.

Move the application link icon to a suitable location. Now, you can launch the configured program simply by double-clicking the icon. Who ever said that Linux is hard to use?

5.2.5 KDE Resources

Entire books have been written on using KDE, so this chapter has provided a mere overview of KDE's many features and facilities. The following additional resources are available via KDE's help information function:

The Konqueror Handbook

An overview of Konqueror.


KDE Quickstart Guide: An Introduction to KDE

A fast-paced introduction to KDE's most important features.


KDE User's Guide

KDE's most complete reference, "a detailed overview of the basic workings of KDE."



Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions concerning KDE can be found online.


Use these resources to learn more about KDE. Also, visit the KDE web site, http://www.kde.org. There you'll find more information?and more current information? about KDE and the KDE project.