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openSUSE 11.1 Reference Guide
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1.2 Exploring the Desktop Components

After logging in to KDE for the first time, you see the KDE desktop. It consists of the following basic elements:

Desktop Icons and Desktop Folder Desktop icons represent files, directories, applications, functions, and removable media, like CDs or DVDs. Click an icon on the desktop to access its associated program or application. By default, your desktop icons are shown in a Desktop Folder, a transparent region of the screen showing the contents of the Desktop folder in your home directory. If you drag an icon from the Desktop Folder and drop it on another part of the desktop, it appear as widget that you can tilt, enlarge or minimize. Widgets are small applications that can be integrated into your desktop. Right-click to open a context menu to access the icon properties, or to remove the icon. .

Desktop Context Menu: Right-click an empty area on the desktop to access the context menu for configuring the appearance of the desktop, adding panels or widgets to the desktop, locking the widgets in their current position, or for leaving the current session or locking the screen.

KDE Panel: The panel (in KDE also called Kicker) is a bar, typically located at the top or the bottom of the screen. By default, the panel of your KDE desktop consists of the following areas (from left to right): quick launcher with the main menu icon on the left and further program icons, pager (desktop previewer), taskbar, and system tray. You can add or remove icons in the panel and customize the appearance of the panel as well as its location on the desktop. If you hold your mouse pointer over an icon in the panel, a short description is displayed.

Quick Launcher: The quick launcher contains the main menu button and some larger icons that are shortcuts to frequently used programs, folders, and functions.

Main Menu Button: Use the icon at the far left of the panel to open a menu holding a search function at the top and several tabs at the bottom. The Applications tab shows all installed programs in a function-oriented menu structure which makes it easy to find the right application for your purpose even if you do not know the application names yet. For more information, refer to Section 2.1.1, Using the Main Menu .

Pager (Desktop Previewer): Between the quick launcher and the taskbar, find a miniature preview that shows your virtual desktops (if not configured otherwise, they are numbered). openSUSE allows you to organize your programs and tasks on several desktops, which minimizes the number of windows to arrange on the screen. To switch between the virtual desktops, click one of the symbols in the pager. For more information, refer to Section 2.6, Using Virtual Desktops.

Taskbar: By default, all started applications and open windows are displayed in the taskbar, which allows you to access any application regardless of the currently active desktop. Click to open the application. Right-click to see options for moving, restoring, or minimizing the window.

System Tray: This rightmost part of the panel usually holds some smaller icons, including the system clock displaying time and date, the volume control, and several other helper applications such as the device notifier, informing you about recently plugged or inserted devices such as USB sticks, external hard disks, cameras, CDs, or DVDs. For more information, refer to Section 2.5, Accessing Removable Media and External Devices.

The integration and handling of desktop objects has changed from KDE 3.x to KDE 4, which now uses a new desktop and panel interface tool called Plasma. Plasma supports desktop widgets (also called plasmoids), similar to Apple’s dashboard widgets. Learn more about the most key desktop objects in the following sections.

1.2.1 Locking and Unlocking Desktop Objects

With KDE 4, desktop elements can be locked in their current position to prevent them from being moved around on the desktop. As long as the desktop elements are locked, you cannot add, move, or remove any objects to and from your desktop.

To lock or unlock the desktop elements, right-click an empty space on the desktop and select Lock Widgets or Unlock Widgets. Find how to add, remove and configure widgets and change numerous desktop elements in Section 3.0, Customizing Your Settings.

1.2.2 Desktop Icons

By default, the Desktop Folder showing the contents of the ~/Desktop folder, displays the following icons by default:

My Computer

The My Computer icon is very useful for viewing the most important information about your hardware, network status, disks (hard disks, removable media, and external devices), operating system, and some common folders at one glance. For example, find processor type and speed listed there, information about your RAM and the current swap status, or your graphics card. OS Information lists the most important information about your operating system such as the Kernel version included, the current user, version number and type of the operating system, and the KDE version number. openSUSE ships with a number of further tools (either graphical or command line tools) that you can use to get more detailed information about your system. If you need detailed hardware information about your system, use the YaST hardware probing, described in Section 2.1, Probing Your Hardware, (↑ Start-Up ).


Opens the Firefox Web browser. For more information, refer to Section 20.0, Browsing with Firefox, (↑ Application Guide ).


Opens a new document. For an introduction to the office suite, refer to Section 1.0, The Office Suite, (↑ Application Guide ).


Opens the SUSEgreeter which holds introductory information and links to various information sources about openSUSE.


Starts Konqueror Web browser and takes you to the help page of the openSUSE community from where you can access various documentation resources, mailing lists, Web forums or chats with members of the openSUSE community. Find more information about accessing and using help resources (integrated with your system or on the Web) in Section 12.0, Help and Documentation, (↑ Start-Up ).

1.2.3 Panel Icons

The quick launch area of your panel as shipped with openSUSE includes the following icons by default:

Main Menu Icon

Opens the main menu, similar to the Microsoft* Windows start menu.

Dolphin Icon

Opens Dolphin, the default file manager.

Device Notifier

Informs you about recently plugged or inserted devices such as USB sticks, external hard disks, cameras, CDs, or DVDs. For more information, refer to Section 2.5, Accessing Removable Media and External Devices.

Apart from the larger icons in the quick launcher, the panel also holds a number of smaller icons in the system tray area on the right:


KDE's clipboard tool that remembers the last entries you have moved to the clipboard. To view the clipboard contents, click the Klipper icon or press Ctrl+Alt+V. The most recent entry is listed on top and is marked as active with a black check mark. To insert the active clipboard entry again, move the mouse pointer to the target application, then middle-click. For more information, see Section 2.3, Moving Text between Applications.


Your desktop's default mixer, KMix helps you to control sound on your desktop after your sound card has been detected and configured with YaST, the central tool for installation and configuration of your system. By default, clicking the KMix icon in the system tray shows the master controller with which to increase or decrease the overall volume. For more information, refer to Section 25.0, Playing Music and Movies, (↑ Application Guide ).

openSUSE Updater

Helps you keeping your system up to date. When you connect to the Internet, the openSUSE Updater automatically checks whether software updates for your system are available. The applet icon changes color and appearance depending on the availability of updates for your system. For detailed information about how to install software updates with openSUSE Updater and how to configure openSUSE Updater, refer to Section 5.0, YaST Online Update, (↑ Reference ).


If you manage your network connection with NetworkManager and have enabled the use of NetworkManager in YaST, the KNetworkManager icon also appears in your system tray be default. Use it to change and configure network connections. For detailed information, refer to Section 10.0, Using NetworkManager, (↑ Start-Up ).


Kerry is a KDE front-end for the Beagle search tool, which indexes your personal information space to help you find whatever you need. You can use Kerry to find documents, e-mails, Web history, IM/ITC conversations, source code, images, music files, applications, and much more. For more information, refer to Section 5.0, Searching with Kerry.


For information about the current date and time, click the clock in the system tray or hove your mouse pointer over the clock. You can change the clock settings (such as appearance or additional data to be displayed) from the context menu available upon right-click. If you need to update the system time, start YaST and select System > Date and Time. Refer to Section 1.8, Clock and Time Zone, (↑ Start-Up ) for more information.

Lock Screen

Locks your screen and starts the screen saver. Access to the session can only be regained with a password.

Log Out

Logs you out and ends your current KDE session. If not configured otherwise in the KDE 4 Personal Settings, (see Adjusting the Session Handling, the session manager will restore the currently open windows by default next time you log in to KDE.

Of course, you can also change the way your KDE desktop looks and behaves to suit your own personal tastes and needs. To learn how to configure individual desktop elements or how change the overall appearance and behavior of your desktop, refer to Section 3.1, The Personal Settings.

If you would like to start working with your desktop now, continue reading at Section 2.0, Working with Your Desktop. Otherwise you can leave your system with one of the possibilities described below.

openSUSE 11.1 Reference Guide
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