Fedora Desktop User Guide
Purpose: How to accomplish specific tasks with the desktop applications.
Audience: Individuals who are unfamiliar with the default Fedora Desktop and who may be running their first Linux desktop.
Approach: This document explains basic principles by covering one principle at a time. The document does not assume familiarity with any Linux/UNIX-specific terminology or concepts. Functionality is also compared, where appropriate, to what the reader may know from other OSes, particularly Microsoft Windows.
Assumptions: The reader has a standard Desktop class installation of Fedora, including a user account with the default settings. The reader does not have access to the root password.
Writers: MattBird, CodyDeHaan, DamienDurand, JohnBabich
Welcome to the Fedora Core 6 Desktop User Guide! This guide is intended for users, with a working Fedora Core 6 system, who are able to use a mouse and keyboard. This guide shows:
- How to login to your computer
- The layout of the default Fedora desktop
- How to use Nautilus, a file and system navigator
- How to use Evolution, an e-mail client
- How to use Gaim, an instant messenger client
- How to use Firefox, a web-browser
- How to use Open
Office, an office suite
- How to customize your new Fedora desktop
About this Document
Volunteer contributors from the Fedora Documentation Project created this guide, and many others, for each release of Fedora. If you have questions or suggestions about Fedora documentation, or if you would like to help document Fedora, please visit the Fedora Documentation Project web site:
For assistance installing Fedora Core 6, please read the Fedora Core Installation Guide:
Thank you for choosing Fedora.
|Previous Page - Table of Contents||Table of Contents||Next Page - Logging into the Desktop|
Logging into the Desktop
This section of the Fedora Desktop User Guide explains how to login to your system. The user account and the password created during the installation process is necessary to complete this step. If you have forgotten your user account, your password, or both, read the section I Cannot Login: HELP! . For additional information about the login process, read the section Logging In: An Explanation . This first section covers the login process.
Any user can now login when the display looks similar to the picture below:
To login, type your username into the horizontal field containing a blinking black bar (the cursor). Next, press the [Enter] key. Next, type your password into the same field you typed your username, then press the [Enter] key.
After a correct username and password are entered, the login screen will be replaced by the splash screen. After this, the splash screen should be replaced by the default Fedora 6 desktop. Congratulations! The computer is now ready for use.
Logging In: An Explanation
Fedora is a multi-user operating system. In short, this means multiple users can be logged into the computer at the same time. Three distinct groups, normal user, system user and administrative accounts exist on your Fedora system. By default, your account is created as a normal user account. Normal users have permission to run a desktop and related desktop applications. System users have permission to programs running in the background, often with elevated privileges, that help maintain your computer system. One example of a system account is the Xscreensaver program.
Administrative accounts are accounts with elevated privileges, such as the root account, that enable the user to perform tasks to alter the behavior and ability of other users on the computer system. The root user is considered the "ultimate" administrative account as it has domain over the entire machine. For more information about these different levels, permissions, and user provisioning, please refer to the Fedora Administration Guide .
I Cannot Login: HELP!
Recovering or replacing a password for a user account is not hard, but it is beyond the scope of this guide. For an explanation and details on how to do this, please refer to the Fedora Administration Guide , which has a section on user accounts, and password recovery .
|Previous Page - Introduction||Table of Contents||Next Page - Tour of the Desktop|
Tour of the Desktop
This chapter introduces the default desktop environment in Fedora. By providing a common terminology for the elements on the desktop, it is easier to explain how to use the desktop throughout this guide.
View of the Default Desktop
Upon the initial login into Fedora, you will see default desktop shown here :
The default desktop has three distinct areas. From top to bottom, the areas are:
- The menu panel
- The desktop area
- The window list panel
The layout location of these items can be customized, but the term used for each of them remains the same.
The menu panel stretches across the top of the screen. It contains three menus and a number of default icons that start software applications. It also provides a clock, volume control applet, and a notification area.
The desktop area is the screen space between the menu panel and the window list panel. The Computer, Home Directory, and Trash icons are located in the top left corner of this area. Those users more familiar with Microsoft Windows may equate these icons to the My Computer, My Documents, and Recycle Bin, respectively.
The window list panel is located at the bottom of the screen. It features the Show Desktop icon, running applications as icons, and it gives access to the workplace switcher and the trash.
The following sections discuss the menu panel, desktop area, and window list panel in further detail.
The Menu Panel
- Applications - The Applications menu contains a variety of icons that start software applications. The icons are ordered by category. It is similar to the Microsoft Windows Start menu.
- Places - The Places menu contains a customizable list of directories, mounted volumes, recent documents, and a Search function. Volumes that are mounted may be external USB drives (flash, hard disk, CD, etc.), directories shared across a network, or other media devices such as a portable music player. Read more about this in Using Media .
- System - The System menu contains a variety of items. Log Out, About, and Help are self-explanatory. Lock Screen starts the screen saver or blanks the screen and prevents the desktop from being used until a password is entered. Preferences contains tools for configuring peripherals and the desktop. System Settings also contains configuration tools that are for administrative purposes and usually require root access; that is, when those applications are started, the root password must be entered to continue.
In addition to the menus, the menu panel contains a number of icons for common software.
|Mozilla Firefox web browser.|
|Evolution mail client and personal information manager.|
You can add program icons that start an application to the menu panel. These icons are called launchers. Right-click on the panel, and select Add to Panel.
The appearance of the panel can also be customized. Right-click on the panel and select Properties.
The Desktop Area
Before any additional icons are added to the desktop, the desktop area contains three icons by default:
- Computer - This contains all volumes (or disks) mounted on the computer. These are also listed in the Places menu. Computer is equivalent to My Computer on Microsoft Windows.
- Home - This is where the logged-in user stores all files by default, such as music, movies, and documents. There is a different home directory for each user, and by default users cannot access each others' home directories. Home is equivalent to My Documents on Microsoft Windows.
- Trash - Deleted files are moved to Trash. Empty Trash by right-clicking the icon and clicking Empty Trash.
Right-clicking on the desktop presents a menu of actions related to the desktop area. For example, clicking on Change Desktop Background lets you choose a different image or photograph to display on the desktop. This is similar to changing the desktop wallpaper on a Microsoft Windows desktop. It is possible to choose not to have any desktop background.
The Window List Panel
The window list panel has three components:
- The Show Desktop button
- The Workspace Switcher
- The Trash icon
Clicking on the show desktop button hides all open windows and shows the desktop area. This is useful when the number of open applications windows becomes cluttered. The windows are minimized and can be displayed by clicking on the minimized window in the window list panel.
Open applications appear as button icons in the middle part of the window list panel; these are the open windows being listed.
The application window that has focus appears as a depressed button. Usually, this is the application whose window is on top of all the others on the screen. Switch from one running application to another by clicking on the desired application's button in the window list.
The workspace switcher is situated on the far right. Workspaces have long been a feature of UNIX and Linux desktop environments. Each workspace provides a separate desktop where applications can be organized. The workspace switcher allows you to switch from one workspace to another. Each workspace has separate desktop areas with a matching window list panel. However, the menu panel and background image is the same on all desktops.
The Trash icon on the right end of the window list panel works the same as the Trash icon in the desktop area.
|Previous Page - Logging into the Desktop||Table of Contents||Next Page - Using Media|
This chapter covers how to use media such as hard drives, DVDs, CDs, and flash drives in Fedora. When these media are mounted, they are called volumes.
When you insert media into your computer, Fedora automatically detects the volume. An icon is placed both on your desktop and in the Places menu.
When you are finished using your media, alert Fedora that you would like to remove this volume. To do this, right-click on the device's icon and then select Unmount Volume or Eject, depending on what type of media you are using.
To view the contents of a volume, double-click on the icon on the desktop, or choose the volume name from the Places menu.
All of the contents of your volume are displayed in the window.
Writing CDs or DVDs
Fedora includes support for writing to CDs and DVDs. To write to a CD or DVD:
- Open a Nautilus window, such as Home or Computer. Nautilus is the graphical file manager.
- Select Places > CD/DVD Creator.
- Drag and drop the files you wish to burn into this new empty window.
- Click Write to Disc.
- In the dialog box, you can change the name of the disc and the write speed if they are incorrect.
- Click Write.
Using a USB Drive
When you plug in a USB drive, Fedora automatically detects this and puts an icon on your desktop. You may then use your USB drive as you would any other volume.
|Previous Page - Tour of the Desktop||Table of Contents||Next Page - Accessing the Web|
Accessing the Web
Fedora uses Mozilla Firefox by default to access the World Wide Web (Web). Firefox is a multi platform, standards-compliant Web browser.
Features of Mozilla Firefox include:
- Tabbed Browsing: Separate tabs for each Webpage are provided, all within one Firefox window.
- Extensions and Plugins: Various extensions and plugins are available that support new features, such as search fields directly in the toolbar.
- Small and Fast: By focusing on providing an extendable Web browser, Firefox is smaller and faster than other browers
You can start Firefox by selecting Applications > Internet > Firefox Web Browser or by using the menu panel icon:
Firefox has support for different plugins that extend its capabilities. This framework allows anyone to create extensions and plugins.
You can find more information on Firefox at:
|Previous Page - Using Media||Table of Contents||Next Page - Communications (Email, IM)|
Communications (Email, IM)
Fedora can be used to send electronic mail and communicate in real time with people around the world. By default, Evolution is used to send electronic mail (email), and Gaim is used to send instant messages (IM).
Evolution is more than an email program. It is also a personal information manager. You can maintain a calendar, manage a list of tasks, and keep an address book of contacts.
Gaim is an instant messaging program (client) that can access MSN, AOL, Yahoo!, Jabber, and other IM and chat networks.
Setting Up Your Email
This information is specific to using Evolution on Fedora. Additional documentation for Evolution is available at:
To start Evolution, select Applications > Internet > Email from the menu panel, or use the application launcher icon from the menu panel:
Running the software for the first time displays the Evolution Setup Assistant wizard, which is used to configure an initial email account. The first screen displays a welcome message. Click Forward to bring up the next screen, titled Identity.
Identity is for configuring the initial values relating to personal email accounts. The screen contains fields for required information, including Full Name and Email Address. Beneath this is Optional Information, which has a Reply to value, should the reply address be different to that entered in the Email Address. This area also allows the user to add an Organization name. Once completed, clicking Forward continues to the next screen.
The next screen is Receiving Email, which is for configuring the retrieval settings for the initial email account. The user must choose the type of server from a drop down menu. This information is supplied by your internet service provider (ISP) or email administrator. By default, Evolution allows the following to be configured: None, Hula, IMAP, Novell Group
Wise, POP, Use
Net, Local Delivery, MH-format, Maildir-format, and mbox spools.
Once an option is selected, other fields become active that need to be considered. Most users require either the POP or IMAP server type to be selected. Selecting one of them brings up fields for Server and Username, as well as security settings. This information is available from the ISP or administrator for the email account.
The next screen, Receiving Options, allows further configuration for incoming email. Automatically check for new mail every X minutes polls the server at set intervals. Leave messages on server prevents the mail client from downloading messages and removing them from the server. Disable support for all POP3 extensions is only needed in a small number of cases.
The Sending Email screen is for configuring servers and settings for outgoing messages. The user may select SMTP or Sendmail; SMTP, or simple mail transport protocol, is most common. Server Configuration requires a hostname under Server and is where potential authentication settings are entered. These settings, when used, are provided by the ISP or administrator for the email account.
In this example, the server type is SMTP and the authentication method is PLAIN. The username fcuser is used for server authentication.
Account Management contains a single field for the user to name the account for easy identification. Often this is a simple description of the email account, such as Work Email.
Select a timezone in the Timezone screen.
The final screen, Done, indicates that the account setup is complete. Clicking on the [Apply] button completes the setup process.
This completes the initial setup and enters the user into the main Evolution mail client.
Setting up Instant Messaging
This section is specific for Gaim in Fedora. For further information and documentation on Gaim, refer to:
To start and configure Gaim, select Applications > Internet > Internet Messenger from the menu panel. Starting Gaim for the first time goes directly into the Accounts configuration:
Click on the [Add] button to bring up the Add Account window:
In the Add Account window, under Login Options, click on the right side of the Protocol dropdown menu to show the available protocols. In this example, AIM/ICQ is selected.
Enter details for the selected account, including Screen name, Password, and Alias. Select Remember password if desired. Click on the [Save] button to add the account to the account list.
Once the account is added, the Accounts windows displays the new account:
The Accounts windows also displays the next time Gaim is launched. Repeat this procedure for each account to be added.
Select one of the enabled accounts to see the Buddy List window. In this window, menus allow the user to add additional IM contacts.
All 9 supported protocols are available at the same time within Gaim.
|Previous Page - Accessing the Web||Table of Contents||Next Page - Office Tools|
Office productivity tools are available in the base Fedora installation. This group of office tools include presentation, spreadsheet, and word processing applications. These tools are available through Applications > Office or as icons on the menu bar.
The office tools available are:
Office.org, you can create documents in formats based on open standards, such as Open
Document, Rich Text Format, and HTML. If necessary, you can also read, edit, and write documents in Microsoft Office formats, such as Word, Excel, and Power
Point, with a high degree of compatibility. You can also export files in PDF format without the need of additional software.
For Further Information
For more information on using Open
Office.org, refer to the following documentation and support pages:
For more information on using Planner, refer to the following official project documentation and support site:
For more information on using Evolution, refer to the following official project documentation and support site:
|Previous Page - Communications (Email, IM)||Table of Contents||Next Page - Playing Multimedia|
Playing Multimedia (Music & Video)
Fedora includes several tools for viewing video and listening to audio. Access sound and video applications through the Applications > Sound & Video menu.
By default, Fedora provides four applications for audio and video:
Playing Audio CDs
CD Player is the default application for playing CDs. Audio CDs begin playing automatically when the disk is inserted into the CD-ROM drive.
This program can be started independently through the menu Applications > Sound & Video > CD Player.
Converting Audio CDs to Music Files
Sound Juicer is the application that rips the CD into audio files on your hard disk. Ripping is the word for converting audio files from CD to file, with each music track on the CD saved as a single file. The default file format is Ogg Vorbis, a free and open alternative to the MP3 format. Vorbis offers better performance in a smaller file than MP3. When a ripping from a commercially produced CD, Sound Juicer displays the music track names, downloading the information from a free database on the Internet.
The Sound Juicer Manual is available in the application, by going through Help > Contents.
Organizing your Multimedia Files
One can organize multimedia files using Rhythmbox. Access this through Applications > Sound & Video > Rhythmbox Music Player. Rhythmbox provides a front-end for music services, Internet radio stations, podcasts, and your own library of multimedia.
To learn more about using Rhythmbox, you can access the Rhythmbox Music Player Manual through the Help > Contents menu.
The Totem Movie Player can play a variety of videos. Found at Applications > Sound & Video > Movie Player, Totem plays any format that can be legally supplied with Fedora. For usage help, the Totem Movie Player Manual is accessed through the Help > Contents menu.
Fedora Project's Approach to Multimedia Support
The Fedora Project encourages the use of open formats in place of restricted ones.
Fedora includes complete support for many freely-distributable formats. These are the Ogg media format, Vorbis audio, Theora video, Speex audio, and FLAC audio formats. These freely-distributable formats are not encumbered by patent or license restrictions. They provide powerful and flexible alternatives to more popular, restricted formats such as MP3.
MP3, DVD, and Other Excluded Multimedia
Fedora cannot include support for MP3 or DVD video playback or recording. MP3 formats are patented, and the patent holders have not provided the necessary licenses. DVD video formats are also patented and equipped with an encryption scheme. Again, the patent holders have not provided the necessary licenses, and the code needed to decrypt CSS-encrypted discs may violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright law of the United States. Fedora also excludes other multimedia software due to patent, copyright, or license restrictions, such as Adobe Flash Player and Real
While other MP3 options may be available for Fedora, Fluendo now offers an MP3 plugin that is properly licensed for end users. This plugin enables MP3 support in applications that use the GStreamer framework as a backend. Fedora does not include this plugin for licensing reasons, but Fluendo offers one solution to playing MP3 in Fedora.
For Further Information
For additional information about multimedia in Fedora, refer to the Multimedia section of the Fedora Project website:
For more information on freely-distributable formats and how to use them, refer to the Xiph.Org Foundation's web site at:
For more on licensed and copyrighted formats, please refer to:
For more information on Fluendo, visit Fluendo's website at
|Previous Page - Office Tools||Table of Contents||Next Page - Playing Games|
By default, Fedora comes with a selection of 15 games. There are additional game packages that can be selected during installation. In addition, the Fedora Extras project has packages for many more games. You can install additional games after installation by using the Add/Remove program application, Pirut, and the Fedora Extras software repository. More information about this games repository can be found on the Fedora Extras Games Wiki:
Brief Description of Each Game
||A collection of dozens of solitaire games|
|Ataxx||A disk-flipping game|
|Blackjack||The classic casino card game|
|Five or More||A version of the popular Color Lines game|
|Four-in-a-Row||A four-in-a-row game played against the computer or another human opponent|
||Another huge collection of solitaire games|
|Iagno||A Reversi-like disk flipping game|
|Klotski||A group of sliding block puzzles|
|Mahjongg||A tile-matching game with many variations|
|Mines||A clone of a popular puzzle game|
|Nibbles||A worm or snake game|
|Robots||The classic game of robots out of control|
|Same GNOME||A puzzle game involving the strategic removal of groups of marbles|
|Tali||A poker game played with dice|
|Tetravex||A simple tile-matching game|
For information about using these games, refer to the individual Help > Contents menu within each game.
|Previous Page - Playing Multimedia||Table of Contents||Next Page - Managing Photos|
Most USB-compatible cameras will work automatically with Fedora and require very little configuration. If your digital camera offers a choice of USB connection types, set the camera's USB setting to PTP, or point-to-point mode, before continuing with this tutorial. Consult your camera's user manual to determine if this option is available and how to choose it. If it is not available, the default settings should be sufficient.
Connecting Your Camera
To properly connect the camera to your Fedora system:
- Make sure your camera is powered off.
- Connect a USB cable from the camera to your computer.
- If your camera requires you to select a knob or dial setting before connecting it to a computer, make that selection now.
- Power the camera on.
After your camera powers on, an informational window should appear on your desktop. If you would like to continue to import photos from the camera, select the Import Photos button. If you decide you do not want to import photos, select the Ignore button. If you do not want to see this dialog each time you connect a camera, you can select the Always perform this action option in conjunction with the Import Photos or Ignore button to make one of the choices permanent.
Organizing and Importing Photos
After you make your selection, Fedora loads thumbnails, or previews, of the photos from your camera into a new window. From this new window, you can tell Fedora the destination of the imported images and how you want your images organized as it loads them from your camera. In this dialog, you can select and/or deselect photo(s) to import by clicking on the corresponding thumbnail. To select all photos, click any photo and then press the key combination [Ctrl] +[A] . To deselect all photos, press [Ctrl] +[Shift] +[A] . Once all desired photos for import are selected, click the Import button. To cancel the entire import process, click the Cancel button. For a more detailed explanation of the options available when importing images, see the information below.
Selecting a Filing Method
Use Destination to select a folder in which to keep your photo images. Within a destination folder, you can further organize your photos by date and time, or by any other method you wish. If you enter text into the Film box, Fedora uses this text to label and organize the photos you import.
If you want Fedora to delete the images from your camera after it imports them, select Delete imported images from the camera. If you want it to use the filenames from the camera, select Keep original filenames. If you do not select this box, Fedora automatically numbers your images using the order it imports them, starting with "00001."
Categorizing Your Photos
The Categories box shows any special category labels you select to mark the photos you import. If you want to select any categories for your photos, click the ... button, which makes the category selection dialog appear.
To label your images with a category, click the checkbox next to the category name. Select as many as you wish. If you do not see a category name you like, select the New button and enter a new category name to add to the list. If you want to remove a category name permanently from the list, select the category by clicking on its name and then select Delete.
As you select categories, they appear in the Selected categories box. When you are finished, select OK to save the category names, or Cancel to forget any category selection(s).
|Previous Page - Playing Games||Table of Contents||Next Page - Sharing Your Desktop|
Sharing Your Desktop
Fedora provides a means to share a user's desktop remotely across the network. This is useful for receiving technical support from a remote location or for demonstrating a desktop feature to another user. You may also find it a useful way to remotely access the files on your desktop from another computer.
To activate desktop sharing, select System > Preferences > Remote Desktop from the user menu. This opens the Remote Desktop Preferences window:
This procedure describes the most secure method to share a desktop.
- Under Sharing, check the box Allow other users to view your desktop.
- Next, check Allow other users to control your desktop.
- Make a note of the command listed under Users can view your desktop using this command:
- Under Security, check the box Ask you for confirmation.
- Next, check Require the user to enter this password and enter a password.
- Finally, click on the Close button.
Be sure to inform the person performing remote technical support/viewing the command from step three, as well as the assigned password. When the person connects to your desktop, click on the Yes button when asked for confirmation.
Once the remote viewing feature is no longer needed, turn off desktop sharing:
- Select System > Preferences > Remote Desktop
- Uncheck the Allow other users to view your desktop box
- Click on the Close button.
This turns off the remote desktop sharing feature.
|Previous Page - Managing Photos||Table of Contents||Next Page - Customizing the Desktop|
Customizing the Desktop
It is possible to customize the look and feel of your desktop in several ways. All of the graphical elements of a desktop - window borders, buttons, scrolling sliders, and other control elements - can be adjusted, modified, or replaced. A theme is a collection of such graphical elements, designed to give a common look and to fit together, and bundled for the desktop.
Changing the Theme
Themes are a way to change your desktop to suit your personal preferences.
The default theme is Clearlooks. Fedora Core 6 comes with many other themes.
To change the desktop theme, choose System > Preferences > Theme. The Theme Preferences window appears:
Changing the Background
To change the background image on your desktop, right-click on an empty area of the desktop, and select the Change Desktop Background option. The Desktop Background Preferences window appears. To change your desktop background, choose a new image form the list. You can add your own images by clicking Add Wallpaper.
To set a color or gradient, select No Wallpaper. Then change the color under Desktop Colors.
Customizing File Browsing Behavior
By default, Fedora uses the Nautilus file manager, which opens a new window each time you open a folder. You can change this behavior to use one window with Forward and Back buttons.
To change this, double-click on Computer on the desktop, click Edit and then Preferences. You can also select Places > Computer > Edit > Preferences from the menu panel. Click the Behavior tab and click on the box next to the text Always open in browser windows.
|Previous Page - Sharing Your Desktop||Table of Contents|