Discovering the Common Features of the Desktops

From your perspective as a user, both KDE and GNOME probably seem similar because many features work similarly. Becoming familiar with these common features is helpful so that you can rely on them no matter which desktop you choose to use for your daily work.

For starters, the initial desktop for both KDE and GNOME looks like any other popular GUI desktop, such as Microsoft Windows or Apple's Mac OS desktop. For example, Figure 5-1 and Figure 5-2, respectively, show typical KDE and GNOME desktops.

Figure 5-1:

A typical KDE desktop with several applications.

Figure 5-1:

A typical KDE desktop with several applications.

Figure 5-2:

A typical GNOME desktop.

Figure 5-2:

A typical GNOME desktop.

Both desktops (Figures 5-1 and 5-2) show icons for your computer, your home folder, and the trash can for deleted files. Both desktops have something similar to the Windows taskbar. On the KDE desktop, the taskbar, called the panel, appears along the bottom of the screen. GNOME has two such panels — one on the top and the other on the bottom of the screen. Even though the appearance may look slightly different, the panels serve the same purpose on both KDE and GNOME desktops — they provide buttons for accessing menus and starting applications, and they show buttons for any applications you've started (or were automatically started for you).

In the case of the KDE desktop, both the menu buttons and information about running applications appear on the same panel. On the GNOME desktop, the top panel provides menus and buttons for starting applications, whereas the bottom panel displays information about running applications.

Move the mouse over any icon on a panel, and a small pop-up window gives a helpful hint about what you can do with that icon.

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