Using the Gnome Desktop Environment
GNOME (pronounced guh-nome) provides the desktop environment that you get by default when you install Red Hat Linux. This desktop environment provides the software that is between your X Window System framework and the look-and-feel provided by the window manager. GNOME offers a stable and reliable desktop environment, with a few cool features built in.
GNOME is not a window manager, so it must be used with a window manager to provide such things as window borders and window controls. Currently, sawfish is the default window manager with GNOME. You can, however, use other window managers with GNOME, including:
You can change to any of these window managers using the GNOME Window Manager window, which you can start from the GNOME menu by choosing Programs ® Settings ® Desktop ® Window Manager. (How to configure GNOME is described later in this section.)
This section describes the GNOME desktop environment and ways of using it. If your Red Hat Linux system is configured to use a GUI by default, you simply need to log in from the graphical login screen. Otherwise, type startx from a shell prompt after you log in. In either case, you should see the GNOME desktop environment similar to that shown in Figure 4-2.
The GNOME desktop that appears the first time it is started by a new user account includes the GNOME panel, desktop area, desktop icons, and file manager. Descriptions of those elements follow.
The panel contains most of the controls you need to use the desktop. When it first starts, the panel contains buttons for starting applications, a list of active applications, several applets, and a few controls. This is what you should see:
Main menu button (footprint icon) — Click this button to see a list of menu items from which you can select. These menu items include selections for starting applications (such as the Run program window, Lock screen, and Log out selections) and submenus of selections.
The Programs menu (under the main menu) includes the following submenus: Applications, Utilities, Games, Graphics, Internet, Multimedia, Settings, and System. There is also a Help System selection from this menu.
Lock screen (lock icon) — Lets you lock the screen so it can be reopened using your password only.
Start Here (mushroom icon) — Opens a Start Here window, which is actually a file manager window displaying icons for configuring GNOME.
Terminal window (terminal icon) — Opens a Terminal window, which provides access to a Red Hat Linux shell.
Mozilla browser (red monster head logo) — Opens the Mozilla browser window. This software is for browsing the World Wide Web or for running related programs to use e-mail, to compose Web pages, or to view newsgroups. (Mozilla has recently replaced Netscape Navigator as the default browser for Red Hat Linux, though Netscape is still available from the GNOME menu.)
Taskbar — Shows the tasks that are currently running on the desktop. The window that is currently active appears pressed in. Click a task to toggle between opening and minimizing the window.
Pager — This applet shows a tiny view of the multiple desktop areas of your GNOME environment, By default, there are four desktops available. You can change to a different desktop by clicking the area in the pager. Each minidesktop area shows small representations of the active windows within that desk.
Click any active application to make it the current application. A sticky application is one that sticks to the same place on the screen, regardless of which desktop you move to. People stick things such as clocks or e-mail notification windows.
Clock — This applet shows the current date and time. Other useful GNOME controls are located in the following places:
Desktop Area — This is the screen area on which you can use the windows, icons, and menus that make up the GNOME desktop. Right-click the desktop area to see a menu of options.
File Manager — This window contains a graphical means of moving up and down your Red Hat Linux file system, opening files, and running applications. It supports expected features for creating, opening, copying, deleting, and moving files and folders. However, it also has some special features, such as drag-and-drop, launching applications based on MIME type, and file finding. The File Manager is called Nautilus. Nautilus is now the default file manager for Red Hat Linux 7.2.
Desktop icons — Icons on the desktop each represent a directory, application, or file that you can work with. You can double-click a desktop icon to open it, drag-and-drop it to move it to another location, or right-click it to see a menu of options related to the icon. The icons added to your Red Hat Linux GNOME desktop include one that opens a File Manager to your home directory, one that opens the Start Here window, and a Trash icon for deleting files.
The GNOME desktop is quite intuitive. However, you may want to read some of the following descriptions of GNOME if you are a novice user or if you want to learn some of the less obvious features of the GNOME desktop.
Continue reading here: Using the GNOME panel
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