The desktop panel is the bar that stretches across the bottom of the
screen and holds icons and small applications which makes using your
system easier. The panel also holds the Main Menu,
which contains shortcuts for all of your applications. Applets embedded
on the panel allow you to run specific tasks or monitor your system or
services while remaining out of your way. The notification area holds
alert icons such as the one for Red Hat Network so that you can be quickly alerted
to critical messages.
Figure 2-2. The Panel
2.2.1. Using the Main Menu
You can click on the Main Menu button
to expand it into a large set of menus that
allow you to access the applications on your system.
From here, you can start most applications included in Red Hat Linux. Notice
that, in addition to the recommended applications, you can also access
additional applications within each sub-menu. These sub-menus give you
access to a full range of applications on your system. From the
Main Menu, you can also log out, run applications
from a command line, find files, and lock your screen (which runs a
password protected screen saver).
2.2.2. Using Applets
Applets are small applications that run on the panel. Applets let
you monitor various aspects of your system. Some applets perform
useful tasks while others are designed to be entertaining.
There are a few applets that run on your panel by default. These
applets are fairly important and are covered in the following list.
The graphical desktop gives you the ability to use multiple
workspaces so you do not have to have all of your running
applications crowding one viewable desktop area. The
Workspace Switcher represents each
workspace (or desktop) in small squares and show the
applications running on them. Click on one of the squares with
your mouse to move to that desktop. You can also use the
to switch between desktops.
Figure 2-3. Workspace Switcher
Next to the Workspace Switcher is
the Taskbar. The
Taskbar is an applet which shows you
the titles of running applications on any one virtual
desktop. This is very helpful if you decide to minimize an
application as it will seem to disappear from the desktop. Once
it disappears, you can bring it back by clicking on its title in
Figure 2-4. The Taskbar
2.2.3. Using the Notification Area
Red Hat Network Notification Tool
Part of the Notification Area,
the Red Hat Network Notification Tool provides you with an
easy way to make sure your system is up-to-date with current
errata and bug fixes from Red Hat. The applet shows you different
images that indicate whether your system is up to date or needs
upgrades. If you click on the icon, a list of available updates
will be displayed. To update your system, click the button to
launch the Red Hat Update Agent. If you are not
registered with Red Hat Network, it will launch the registration
component. Right-click on the applet icon for a list of options
from which to choose.
Figure 2-5. Red Hat Network Notification Tool
The Authentication Icon
The key icon that is sometimes displayed in the
Notification Area is a security
notification that displays whenever you have gained root
authentication for your system (such as running a graphical
system configuration tool). It disappears when the
authentication times out.
Figure 2-6. Authentication Icon
Printer Notification Icon
The Printer Notification Icon
allows you to manage your print jobs. Click on the icon to view
running print jobs, and cancel jobs by right-clicking on the job
and selecting Cancel.
Figure 2-7. The Printer Notification Icon
If you cannot see any of the notification
icons, then the notification area was removed from the desktop panel.
To add the it back to your panel, right-click on the panel and choose
Add to Panel => Utility =>
2.2.4. Adding Icons and Applets to the Panel
To make the panel fit your needs, you may want to add more applets
and launcher icons.
To add an applet to the panel, right-click in an unused area on the
panel, select Add to Panel, and choose from the
various types of applets. When you select an applet, it will appear
on your panel. In Figure 2-8, the
Weather Report applet has been added to
show the current local weather and temperature.
Figure 2-8. The Weather Report Applet on the Panel
To add a launcher icon to the panel, right-click in an unused area on
the panel and select Add to Panel =>
Launcher.... This will launch a dialog box
that allows you to enter the name of the application, the location and
name of the command that starts the application (such as
/usr/bin/foo), and even choose an icon for the
application. Click OK and the new launcher icon
will appear on the panel.
Another quick and easy way to add a launcher to the panel is to
right-click on an unused area of the panel and choose
Add to Panel => Launcher
from menu. Then select an application that appears in
the menu. This will automatically add a launcher icon based on the
properties of the item in the Main Menu.
2.2.5. Configuring the Desktop Panel
You can hide the panel automatically or manually, place it on any edge
of your desktop, change its size and color, and change the way it
behaves. To alter the default panel settings, right-click in an unused
area of the panel and select
Properties. You can set the size of the
panel, its position on the desktop, and whether you want the panel to
be automatically hidden (Autohide) when not in
use. If you choose to autohide the panel, it will not appear on the
desktop until you move your mouse pointer over the panel area (called