An Overview of KDE Features

Figure 6.2 shows a typical KDE 3.1 session on a Mandrake 9.1 system. Some features will be different on other versions of KDE or on other distributions, but the main features should resemble those shown in Figure 6.2. Important features include


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Figure 6.2: A KDE session delivers the types of tools most users expect in a GUI

desktop environment.

Konqueror File Manager A file manager is integral to most desktop environments. In KDE, Konqueror is the file manager, and it doubles as a web browser. This component is described in more detail in the upcoming section, "Managing Files with Konqueror."

Desktop Icons These icons launch Konqueror or other applications in order to access your home directory, system tools, websites, and so on. Most distributions provide a number of distribution-specific icons by default. You can, however, add or delete icons at will by right-clicking on a clear piece of the desktop and selecting an appropriate sub-option from the Create New context menu item, such as Create New O Link to Application to create a new icon for launching a program.

Panel The KDE Panel is the strip of icons and tools at the bottom of the screen in Figure 6.2, but you can move it to other locations if you prefer. You can shrink the Panel to a small icon by clicking the triangular button on its left edge in Figure 6.2. This button may appear on the right edge or be so narrow it's not easily identified as a button on some installations.

Kicker The Kicker is part of the Panel that enables you to launch programs. Most icons in the Kicker launch individual programs, and some common tools come preconfigured in most KDE distributions. One particularly important Kicker icon is the K menu (aka the Application Starter), which is the leftmost icon in the Panel in Figure 6.2. The K menu provides an access port for many user programs, including all standard KDE programs and, frequently, many non-KDE programs. The upcoming section, "Adding Programs to the Kicker," describes how to edit the Kicker's and K menu's applications.

Pager KDE, like most Linux desktop environments and window managers, supports an arbitrary number of virtual desktops. These are semi-independent screens you can switch between, much like text-mode virtual terminals. Figure 6.2 shows a system with four virtual desktops accessible through a pager; click a desktop you're not using and a new set of windows appears. This feature is very useful for keeping your desktop uncluttered.

Task List The task list enables you to bring a window to the front even if it's minimized or completely hidden behind other windows.

Applets Most KDE installations deliver a couple of small applets in their Panels. In Figure 6.2, these enable you to view the contents of the clipboard and bring up a simple organizer program.

Clock The far right of the Panel usually contains a clock that displays the date and time. It can be configured to display the time in various formats, to omit the date, and so on.

In addition to these features that have clear accessibility from the desktop, KDE provides many additional features. These include integration between KDE components, a Control Center that lets you modify many KDE and system operation details, and numerous small and not-so-small applications that help make working with Linux easier. Some of these KDE applications are described elsewhere in this book; for instance, Chapter 7, "Using Linux for Office Productivity," introduces KOffice, a suite of office-productivity tools.

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