From Fedora Project Wiki

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 :

File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour fc6desktop6.png

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

File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour fc6menupanel3.png

  • 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.

File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour redhat-web-browser.png Mozilla Firefox web browser.
File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour redhat-email.png Evolution mail client and personal information manager.
File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-writer.png Writer is a word processing program.
File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-impress.png Impress is for creating and giving presentations.
File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-calc.png Calc is a spreadsheet tool.
Writer, Impress, and Calc are displayed only if Office and Productivity Tools was selected during installation. The Add/Remove program application, Pirut, can be used to install these office tools at any time.

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.

There is another way to add an application launcher to the menu panel if the application is already listed in the Applications menu. Navigate to the application in the Applications menu, right-click on the application, and select Add this launcher 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Trash - Deleted files are moved to Trash. Empty Trash by right-clicking the icon and clicking Empty Trash.
Permanently deleting files
To permanently delete a file and bypass the file's move to Trash, hold down the [Shift] key when deleting the file.

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

File:Docs DesktopUserGuide Tour fc6winlist3.png

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.

Use the key combination [Alt] +[Tab] to switch between open windows.
Holding down the [Alt] key while you tap the [Tab] key allows you to cycle through all open applications.

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.

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