Insider Fedora shows the Main Menu button as a red hat icon In a normal KDE installation insight the leftmost button is a large letter K on top of a gear Its sometimes called the K button for short

Next to the red hat button (Main Menu), the panel includes several other buttons. If you don't know what a button does, simply move the mouse over the button, and a small popup window displays a brief message about that button.

KDE supports a virtual desktop. By default, you get four virtual desktops. You can click one of the buttons on the panel (see Figure 9-8) labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4 to switch to a specific desktop. Use the desktops to organize your application windows. You needn't clutter up a single desktop with many open windows. When a desktop gets crowded, simply switch to another desktop and open the applications there.

Sometimes you want to type Linux commands at a text prompt. Select Main Menu O System Tools O Terminal and a terminal window appears. You can then type Linux commands at the shell prompt in the terminal emulation window. Chapter 7 describes the shell and some important Linux commands.


KDE includes a KDE Control Center that you can use to customize various aspects of KDE, including the desktop background, icons, and fonts. To start the KDE Control Center, select Main Menu O Control Center or type kcontrol in the terminal window. The KDE Control Center main window has two parts. The left side of the window has a tree menu of items that you can control with this tool. The tree menu is organized into categories, such as Appearance & Themes, Desktop, Internet & Network, Peripherals, Security & Privacy, and so on. Click an item to view the subcategories for that item. To change an item, go through the tree menu to locate the item, and then click it. That item's configuration options then appear in a dialog box on the right side of the window. For example, Figure 9-9 shows the options for customizing the desktop background.

Figure 9-9: Customizing the Desktop Background with KDE Control Center.

You can choose the desktop with the background you want to customize, and then select either a solid color background or a wallpaper (an image used as a background). After making your selections, click Apply to make the change.

To log out of KDE, select Main Menu O Logout, and click the Logout button on the resulting dialog box.


Newcomers and old-timers alike can benefit from a graphical point-and-click user interface. This chapter shows you how 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 learned 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 Fedora Linux, the GNOME Display Manager (gdm) provides the graphical login prompt. The Linux installation program sets 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. Fedora 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 or simply select a GUI by clicking the Session button on the login screen.

♦ 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.

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