Red Hat Enterprise Linux includes a powerful graphical desktop environment where you
can easily access your applications, files, and system resources.
Both new and experienced users can take full advantage of their
Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems using the graphical desktop.
This chapter covers the fundamentals of the desktop and how to
configure it for your needs.
2.1. Using Nautilus
Your first view of the graphical desktop looks something like
Figure 2-1. The desktop offers the
following tools, represented as desktop icons:
Computer, User's Home, and
Trash. Each of these tools is an application
of the Nautilus file manager.
Figure 2-1. The Graphical Desktop
Nautilus provides a graphical display
of your system and personal files.
Nautilus is designed to be much more
than a visual listing of files, however. It allows you to
configure your desktop, configure your Red Hat Enterprise Linux system, browse
your photo collection, access your network resources and more
— all from one integrated interface. In essence,
Nautilus becomes a shell for your
entire desktop experience.
Working in Nautilus provides an
alternative to using a shell prompt to navigate the file system.
The following sections explain how to use
Nautilus to enhance your desktop
2.1.1. Using the Computer icon
Double-clicking the Computer icon takes you
to a list of all of the devices on your
system. A device is anything connected to your computer to
which data is sent or from which it is received. (You have
probably heard of a 'device driver' before - this is a piece
of software that allows a device to talk to your computer.)
Most modern systems have the following devices: a floppy
drive, a CD-ROM drive, and at least one hard drive. Other
devices may be listed depending on the makeup of your system.
- Removable Media
Double-click either the
Floppy icon or the
CD-ROM icon to mount the drive with
Nautilus and open a new window with the drive's contents. You can
also right-click on the drive and then select
from the menu.
Note: you must first unmount a floppy before you eject
it. Refer to Chapter 13 Diskettes and CD-ROMs for more
This references the hard drive. If you are using
Linux, your hard drive is already mounted, and may not
be accessible from this window. If you have other hard
drives available on your system (possibly used for other
operating sytems), they may be mountable here.
Double-click on the Filesystem
icon and Nautilus opens a window that shows the entire file system, starting from
the / directory. This is a quick way to reach such
useful folders as /tmp/
and /usr/bin/. If you
are not logged in as root, some folders will be
unavailable. This is to prevent accidental damage to
Double-click the Network icon to
bring up a list of all systems on your network. Linux
systems are listed individually. Systems running other
operating systems are grouped under an icon that
reflects this. (For example,
Windows systems on your
network appear under a Windows
Network icon.) You are only able to
browse those machines you have permission to access.
2.1.2. User's Home
The tool associated with the
icon is referred to as
User's Home in this manual. The label
under the icon varies according to your user name. If you
are logged in as root, the label reads root's
Home. User "joe" would see the label
Double-clicking on the User's Home icon
allows you to navigate through your home directory or the rest
of the file system.
The browser window opens in icon view. The icons are
designed to allow easy recognition of file types; directories
are represented by folders, music files have musical notes,
and so on. Nautilus automatically sorts your files by name and
arranges them neatly. When you open a directory it opens in a
new browser window.
To move a file from one directory to another, drag and drop
the file into the new location, or cut and paste it. Note
that in Nautilus, dragging and
dropping a file moves it rather than placing a copy in the new
location. If you wish to copy a file instead,
right-click on the icon, select
, and paste the file in
the new directory.
Most of these settings can be configured to meet your preferences.
(Refer to Section 2.1.4 Customizing Nautilus for more
Nautilus includes a Trash icon similar
to that of other operating systems; files inside the
Trash are not deleted until you
choose to do so. The Trash bin can
be opened by double-clicking on the desktop icon. It opens as
a Nautilus window, which allows you
to easily move files in and out. To empty the
Trash, right-click on the desktop
icon and select .
2.1.4. Customizing Nautilus
You can also change the way
Nautilus behaves. To do so, select
from an open
Nautilus window. A new
configuration window opens with many customization options.
These customization options are categorized by the tabs at
the top of the window.
Figure 2-4. Customizing Nautilus - View Tab
- Views Tab
The Views tab allows you to choose
how your files and folders are displayed. You can also
choose a Default Zoom Level.
Zooming in on icons not only increases the size of the
icons, but adds to the displayed information about each
file or folder.
The Behavior tab allows you to
specify that Nautilus should
Always open in browser windows. If
you check this option, opening a folder displays the
directory's contents in the current window. This
behavior may be more familiar to those users accustomed
to using the Start Here icon. You
can also choose to include a delete option that bypases
the Trash bin.
- Display Tab
The Diplay tab features a series of
drop-down boxes listing various file details. Selecting
these options sets the order in which these details
appear as you zoom in. You can also set the format for
dates and times within
(This only changes the time format for
Nautilus. To change the date
and time format of the clock on the
Panel, right-click on it and
- List Columns Tab
The List Columns tab allows you to
select which details are shown when folder contents are
displayed as a list. If you click on the description of
a detail, you can then change the order in which it is
displayed by clicking Move Up or
- Preview Tab
The Preview tab allows you to
select the types of files that are
Nautilus. For text files,
this means that part of the text is visible on the icon.
For image files, this means that
Nautilus displays a
thumbnail (or scaled-down view)
of the file. For sound files,
Nautilus plays the sound
while your mouse pointer hovers over the file. If
Nautilus seems to be sluggish
on your machine, try turning these resource-intensive
features off to increase the speed.