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  1. Agustin's Linux Manual
  2. Multimedia & Hardware Installation
  3. About the Author
  4. Contents
  5. Multimedia
  6. Default Audio Setting
  7. Audio Application
  8. The Play Directory
  9. The Equalizer
  10. Options Sub-menu
  11. Movies & DVDs
  12. Starting Xine
  13. Video Conferencing
  14. GnomeMeeting's Main Window
  15. The Desktop
  16. Office
  17. Networking
  18. Multimedia Submenu
  19. Web Browsers
  20. Installing New Hardware
  21. Loading Modules for Hardware
  22. Introduction to IDEs
  23. Tweaking the Hard Drive
  24. Setting (U) DMA
  25. Installing a CD/RW
  26. Floppy Disk, Zip Drives
  27. Installing USB Devices
  28. Fire wire IEEE 1394
  29. Using the CD-Writer

Chapter 6

The Desktop

Start Menu
Fig 6.1

I hope that by this time you already discovered that you could use Linux without using the console. You don't need to become a command wiz to actually exploit the power of Linux.
As you already know, UNIX and its predecessor were born text based (command line). Nowadays most Linux distributions are desktop ready. And many applications are available too, including advanced tools for technical applications.
The desktop is fairly simple. Everything is mostly drag and drop, copy and paste. As you noticed in our previous chapters, we worked with several applications that run in the graphical environment.
KDE and Gnome, and other Window managers have a task bar laid out somewhere on the screen, If your distribution does not have one; read about it and find out if you can customize it.

Normally the customization will depend on the type of windows manager you will use. Note that you can get KDE or Gnome or any other Xwindow client separately to install on your Linux to connect to the Xserver.

I know, you probably said, “what? Xserver!” Believe it or not a lot of things that run in the background are servers. We either access it by commands or by a third party utility that connects to the Sever and requests the information we asked for.

So if that makes it clear, our graphical interface is nothing else other than a client that connects to the Xserver. The Xserver then handles the request and sends it back to wherever it is supposed to go. The information might make a round trip to the Kernel and back to the Xserver and finally say to the Xclient “Ok here is what you asked for”

The start menu

The start menu holds other interesting options that we haven't covered. The menu's content will depend on what you have installed.

The logout:

If you log in as text mode, this option takes you to the console and if you login graphically, it allows you to login as a different user, turn off the computer and restart the computer.

Lock screen:

You can use the lock screen to lock it when you are away from the computer. The only way to unlock it is by entering the correct current user's password

Configure panel:

This is important. You can customize the feel and look of your menu. You can add and remove items. If you want to mess up your menu, this is the right place to do it. Of course you can always undo.
Configure Panel
Fig 6.2

Many features that are on your menu are controlled through the preferences options.

The task bar is also customized in the preferences option, so have fun.

The run command:

  This is the command line for executables, which you already know how to use.

Quick browser:

  This allows you to explore the system. The quick browser can be enabled or disabled in configure panel => preferences =>Panel => Menus

Recent documents:

  Display all recently opened documents. If you click on clear history it removes the list of opened documents.


  This holds all favorite websites that you visit, and when you add it to bookmark it appears here. You can edit this bookmark. You can even organize this by categories creating directories.


  This is your home folder and all your personal files.

The Control center

The control center on the start menu is user level and allows you to personalize many features of the system.

X Desktop
Fig 6.4

The control center gives access to regular user; some features may require the root password.

As you can see the picture on the left, you can manage your file system; get information about many things including hard drives, DMAs, IRQs, Memory usage.

Get information about your network size, partition types and mount point.

The information sub-tree basically holds all information related to the system in general.

From this control panel you can change the way your desktop looks on the Look and feel, such as adding your wallpaper, etc. Look and feel is used to manipulate everything related to the desktop

You also have access to the Kpanel in the control center. If you want to learn the secret of the Linux desktop such as hot keys and shortcut, take a thorough look at Look and Feel => Shortcuts

You can even change the theme, change the windows behavior, or simply decorate your windows “ I just changed my windows decoration to IceWM style and I really liked it.

Network: You can configure your email, browse the LAN, change sock configuration, talk configuration, or manage windows share (samba) as we saw in previous chapters.

Peripherals: If you are lucky enough to own a digital camera, you can configure it here in this control center. If for some reason your keyboard is not configured properly, or your mouse; you can set it manually to get it going.

Personalization: The control center holds very interesting things, every day the Linux community is working hard to make it easier to work with. Most Linux distributions now come with an accessibility option, which I do believe is of great significance for everyone.

Fig 6.5

From this personalization you can change your country language, set the currency type, time, and date. You can even set the cryptography. You will be surprised when you see this section. There are many things that you can do such as creating certificates for SSL AND SIGNERS.

The console can be customized here. A nice feature that you might like is the blinking cursor on your terminal or maybe you would like to set the session mode. When you activate all these modes, it is available on the session menu of your terminal the next time you open it. (Fig.6.6)

Fig 6.6

Isn't it nice to control this? But of course, from the graphical interface you have the power of the console at your mercy; and not only that, if you like battle net, you can use multiple windows graphical and none graphical at the same time to execute the arsenal that perhaps you have collected.

Note: As you open new consoles, they are lined up at the bottom of your console's screen.

Your password properties can be controlled in the personalization option too. You can specify the way you want the password to be echoed, or set a policy to remember password for certain time in minutes.

Session manager: A session manager policy is also available to control the way you want the session to behave, such as confirm the logout, save the session for future logins, etc.

Power control: The power control session is great for controlling the battery consumption of your laptop.

The control center has other features such as the sound control system, system daemons, and Web Browsing. You can access the Web browsing section directly through your web browser; so you don't have to do the settings here.
Keep in mind that a lot of things are not necessary to mess with unless you really want to learn more about it. I think the best way to learn is by exploring the unknown.