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The KDE desktop environment provides many features and applications. However, it is hardware intensive and may run slowly on a computer with an older processor or a small amount of RAM. If you find KDE too slow for your needs or prefer to use a leaner desktop environment, you can logout and select another window manager as described on the Post Installation#Logging In page.
The taskbar, also known as the KDE panel, is located at the bottom of the desktop. It contains the following icons and areas, going from left to right. If you hover over an icon with your mouse, it will display its name and description. If you right-click an icon, you can access its settings or remove it from the panel.
Note: the look and order of icons may vary slightly, depending upon your version of PC-BSD.
The middle section of the panel doesn't contain anything by default. When you open an application, its icon is placed here, allowing you to see which applications are currently open. Click an application's icon to minimize its window or to bring its window back onto the desktop.
Pager: used to switch between virtual desktops; click on the square representing the desktop you wish to switch to. Each virtual desktop can have its open windows. This allows you to group your tasks into logical workspaces; for example, some users may do their gaming on one virtual desktop, their graphics design in another, and their homework on yet another.
Device Notifier: if you hover over this icon it will show you any inserted media (e.g. a USB thumb drive or a DVD) as well as any recognized filesystems (e.g. a FAT32 filesystem from a Windows installation on a dual-boot computer). A pop-up menu will appear over device notifier when a media is inserted. If you click device notifier, you can access the media or eject it as described in the Multimedia section.
Show the Plasma Dashboard: if you click this icon a small item labeled "Widget Dashboard" will appear at the top of your screen and your panel will temporarily disappear. If you right-click this item, a pop-up menu will appear that allows you to configure icons, widgets, panels, and activities. The Plasma Guide can get you started with these configurations, but you will probably find that some experimentation will let you discover the features that you are interested in. When you are finished, click the red X to close the widget dashboard and return to the panel.
System Tray: the system tray itself is the area to the right of the clock. Depending upon the number of icons in the tray, they may or may not all be displayed. Click the arrow button to enable or disable the viewing of all the system tray icons.
Notifications and Jobs: when the system has a message for you (for example, a new device is detected or a download is complete), a pop-up message will momentarily appear over this icon and the icon will change slightly to indicate that there is a new message. Click the icon to read the message. If you click the X in the upper right corner of the message to remove the notification the icon will return to its original state.
Network Device: if any network interfaces were detected during installation, an icon for each will appear in the system tray. Hovering over the icon will shows the current settings for the interface; for example, if it is connected and if it has an IP address. You can add or remove icons for your network devices in Application Launcher -> System Settings -> System Network Configuration. Highlight the desired interface and check or uncheck the "Display system tray icon".
IBus input method framework: if you right-click this icon and select Preferences, you can select the input method for your native language. You can learn more about IBus here.
Update Manager: the look of this icon will change depending on whether or not the PC-BSD operating system and any installed PBIs are up-to-date. The various update icons and how to use Update Manager are described in Using Software Manager.
Klipper: is a utility that keeps a history of your latest cuts/copies so that you can paste them. Right-click the icon to view your history; if you click on a history item it will allow you to paste it. You may want to review the "Configure Klipper" menu item as it allows you to set the size of the history. If you want to paste images as well as text, uncheck the "Text selection only" box while in the "Configure Klipper" menu. The Help menu option will open the Klipper Handbook where you can learn more about using Klipper.
KMix: click this icon to see a bar that lets you increase/decrease the sound level. It also provides a Mixer button which you can click to configure your audio channels. If you press F1 while in KMix, it will open the KMix Handbook which shows you how to use this utility.
Keyboard Layout Switcher: this icon will indicate the keyboard layout that was selected during installation. To change the layout or variant, right click the icon and select Configure from the menu. Click F1 while in this menu to read the Kxkb Handbook and learn more about the layout configuration options.
Desktop Search: if you right-click this icon and select "Configure File Indexer" from the menu, you can view and configure your Strigi settings. Pressing F1 while in this menu will open up the Nepomuk Desktop Search Configuration Handbook which will describe these settings. Nepomuk allows you to tag and comment files in Dolphin and to find files by searching their metadata.
KOrganizer: is KDE's organizer utility and reminder daemon. If you double-click this icon, you can view a calendar and create reminders, events, and to-do lists. Pressing F1 while in this menu will open a comprehensive KOrganizer Handbook so you can learn how to get the most out of this utility.
Trash: if you delete a file in Dolphin, it isn't deleted immediately. Instead, it is stored in the trash can. Your trash can icon will change slightly if there are items in it. If you hover over the icon, it will tell you how many items are in the trash can. Right-click the icon to open or empty the trashcan or to modify its settings. Note: if you delete a file at the command line it does not go to the trash can; instead it is immediately deleted.
Panel Tool Box: if you click or right-click this icon, you can add or lock widgets, add or edit the panel, add spacers or change the size of the panel, or access even more settings. This page can get you started; again, you will want to experiment to see what features/settings you like.
Note: should you delete the original panel, you will have to manually re-add all of its icons and widgets if you decide to create another panel.
The icon for the PC-BSD application launcher looks different from the traditional KDE icon as it uses the PC-BSD flame logo. Simply click this icon whenever you want to search for or start applications.
If you click the application launcher icon, you'll see the following five icons, with each icon representing a menu tab of items:
Favorites: programs that are marked as favorites are listed here. You can add any program you find in application launcher to the Favorites menu by right-clicking the item and clicking "Add to Favorites". Having your favorite programs listed on this first tab saves you time browsing through the applications menu.
Applications: this menu is divided into categories that contain all of the applications that come with PC-BSD as well as any software that you installed using Software Manager. Click on a category name to view the applications within that category. If you wish to return to the categories, click on the arrow on the left side of the menu. To launch an application, simply click its name. Alternately, if you right-click an application's name, you will have the option to add it to the favorites menu, to create a desktop icon, and/or to add an icon to the panel. Any of these options will allow you to quickly see and launch your favorite applications.
Computer: this menu provides shortcuts to system settings, the run command, your home folder, network shares, root's home folder, and the trash can.
Recently Used: this menu shows a list of the last few opened documents and applications.
Leave: this menu is used to log out of your current KDE session, lock your session, switch user, put the system into sleep or hibernate mode, or restart or shutdown the computer.
Every application launcher menu provides a search bar at the top of the menu. If you type the first few letters of an application's name, application launcher will list all of the applications that apply. This is a quick way to find applications without searching through the categories.
Installing Fonts in KDE
If you already have a collection of fonts that you have downloaded or purchased, you can configure your PC-BSD system to use these as well using the Font Installer utility.
Click the KDE menu → System Settings → Font Installer to start this utility. In Figure 5.3b, "All Fonts" is currently selected under the Group column, showing all of the fonts installed on this system.
Figure 5.3b: Using Font Installer to Install Fonts
To install your fonts, highlight "Personal Fonts" under the Group column, then click the +Add button. This will allow you to browse to the font you wish to add. You can add multiple fonts in the same directory by holding down the Ctrl key while making your selection. Click the Open button, which will install the font for you. When it is finished, you will see the message in Figure 5.3c:
Figure 5.3c: Fonts Have Been Successfully Installed
Your newly installed font(s) should now show up in the "Personal Fonts" section in the Groups column and be available to the applications you use.
Working with Directories and Files in KDE
If you're running PC-BSD with the default KDE desktop environment, you can easily access your files and view the directories on your system using the Dolphin file manager. To launch Dolphin, use Application Launcher -> Dolphin. Figure 5.8a shows a screenshot of Dolphin:
Figure 5.8a: Viewing the Directory Structure Using Dolphin
Dolphin will show the contents of the user's home directory by default. This is where the user should create and store their personal files. Dolphin provides many features for manipulating files such as comments, tags, search, encryption, dealing with zipped archives, and more. Simply click F1 while in Dolphin to access the Dolphin Handbook to learn how to use its features.
The Root folder in Dolphin can be used to browse all of the directories on the PC-BSD system. It is important to realize that anything outside of your home folder came with the operating system. This means that you should not delete or modify the contents or permissions of any of these directories unless you know what you are doing. When in doubt, leave the directory or file as-is.
Like other Unix-like operating systems, the root folder is the top level of the directory structure. You can read more about the layout of the FreeBSD directory structure by running man hier at the command line. If you prefer to read manpages in Dolphin, click the View menu -> Location Bar -> Editable location. This will add a location bar where you can type in man:/hier. If you wish to read this man page while you are in Konqueror, simply type in the same command in the area where you typically type in a URL to a website.
Table 5.8.1 summarizes the contents of the directory structure on a PC-BSD system.
Table 5.8.1: PC-BSD Directory Structure
|/||pronounced as "root" and represents the beginning of the directory structure|
|/PCBSD||only found on PC-BSD systems; contains all of the PC-BSD specific programs|
|/Programs||subdirectories for each installed PBI|
|/bin||applications (binaries) that were installed with the operating system|
|/boot||stores the startup code, including kernel modules (such as hardware drivers)|
|/compat/linux/||Linux software compatibility files|
|/dev||files which are used by the operating system to access devices|
|/etc||operating system configuration files|
|/etc/X11/||the xorg.conf configuration file|
|/etc/rc.d||operating system startup scripts|
|/home||subdirectories for each user account; each user should store their files in their own home directory|
|/lib||operating system libraries needed for applications|
|/libexec||operating system libraries and binaries|
|/media||mount point for storage media such as DVDs and USB drives|
|/mnt||another mount point|
|/root||administrative account's home directory|
|/sbin||operating system applications; typically only the superuser can run these applications|
|/tmp||temporary file storage; files stored here may disappear when the system reboots|
|/usr/bin||contains most of the command line programs available to users|
|/usr/local||contains the binaries, libraries, startup scripts, documentation, and configuration files used by third-party applications|
|/usr/local/share/fonts||system wide fonts for graphical applications|
|/usr/local/share/icons||system wide icons|
|/usr/ports||location of installed ports tree, used by advanced users to install or upgrade software|
|/usr/share||system documentation and man pages|
|/usr/sbin||command line programs for the superuser|
|/usr/src||location of installed FreeBSD source code used by advanced users|
|/var||files that change (vary), such as log files and print jobs|
If you dual boot your PC-BSD system, Dolphin will display the filesystems from the other operating systems as Volumes. Simply double-click the volume name to view its data. Depending upon the type of filesystem, you may or may not be able to copy or edit files between the volume and your PC-BSD system.
Remote Desktop Sharing in KDE
The KDE desktop provides applications that allow connections between desktop sessions running on different computers. This can be very handy when troubleshooting a problem as both users will be able to see the error on the problematic system and either user can take control of the mouse and keyboard in order to fix the problem. This section will show you how to connect to a session running on another computer as well as how to invite another computer to connect to your desktop session.
Connecting to Another Desktop Using Remote Desktop
If the other computer you are connecting to is a Windows system, the connection can be made using the remote desktop protocol (RDP). While remote desktop has been available since Windows XP, not every edition of Windows provides a fully functional version--for example, it may not be fully supported in a home edition of Windows. If the full version of RDP is included, remote access may or may not be enabled by default. If you have trouble connecting using RDP, do a Google search for "remote desktop" and the name of the version of Windows you are using to find out how to configure its remote desktop settings. If you still can't connect, you will need to download, install and configure VNC server software on the system.
If the other computer you are connecting to is a Mac, Linux, or BSD system, you will have to first install either rdesktop or a VNC server on the other system. Depending upon the operating system, either software may or may not already be installed. If it is not, check the software repository for the operating system or use Google to find out how to install and configure one of these applications on that operating system. If you are connecting to another PC-BSD system, rdesktop is already installed for you.
If the remote system is protected by a firewall, you will need to check that it allows connections to the TCP port required by the type of connection that you will be using:
RDP: uses port 3389
VNC: uses port 5900 (for the first connection, 5901 for the second connection, etc.)
If you need to manually add a firewall rule, it is best to only allow the IP address of the computer that will be connecting. It is also more secure to remove or disable this firewall rule after the connection is finished so that other computers don't try to connect to the computer. Since your PC-BSD system is considered to be the client and will be initiating the connection, you do not have to modify the firewall on the PC-BSD system.
Once the other computer has the software it needs for the connection, you can initiate a connection request using KRDC. To launch this application, go to Application Launcher -> Internet -> Remote Desktop Client. You can also launch this application by typing krdc at the command line. If you click F1 while in KRDC you can access the Remote Connection Desktop Handbook to learn more about how to use this application.
Figure 5.9a shows the initial KRDC screen which allows you to specify which system you wish to connect to.
Figure 5.9a: Creating a Connection Using KRDC
Use the drop down menu to indicate whether the remote system is using RDP or VNC for the connection. Then type in the IP address of the system you wish to connect to. If you are connecting to a VNC system, the IP address needs to be followed by a colon and a number indicating the number of the session. Typically, the number will be 1 unless the VNC server is hosting multiple simultaneous connections. Once you press enter, the connection will be initiated and you will see the screen shown in Figure 5.9b:
Figure 5.9b: Settings for the Connection
Here is a quick overview of the settings:
Desktop resolution: since the contents of the screen are sent over the network, select the lowest resolution that still allows you to see what is happening on the other system. If you have a very fast network connection, you can choose a higher resolution; if you find that the other system is very slow to refresh its screen, try choosing a lower resolution.
Color depth: choose the lowest color depth that allows you to see the other system; you can choose a higher color depth if the network connection is fast.
Keyboard layout: this drop down menu allows you to select the desired keyboard layout.
Sound: this drop down menu allows you to choose whether any sounds heard during the connection are produced on this system, the remote system, or to disable sound during the connection.
Console login: if you are connecting to a Unix-like system, you can check this box if you wish to have access to the other system's command line console.
Extra options: allows you to specify rdesktop switches that aren't covered by the other options in this screen.
Show this dialog again for this host: if you plan on using the same settings every time you connect to this computer, you can uncheck this box. If you need to change the settings at a later time, you can right-click the connection (which will appear in a list as a past connection) and choose Settings from the right-click menu.
Remember password: KWallet is KDE's password storage system. If this box stays checked, you will only need to input the password the first time you make this connection as it will be saved for you. If this is the first time you have stored a password using KWallet, it will prompt you for some information to set up your wallet.
Once you press OK, a connection will be initiated and you will receive pop-up messages asking for a username then a password; the details you provide must match a user account on the system you are connecting to. Once your authentication details are confirmed, you should see the desktop of the other system. If you move your mouse, it will move on the other desktop as well. Click the "View Only" button in the top toolbar whenever you wish to disable this mouse behaviour. When you are finished your session, you can click the "Disconnect" button in the top toolbar.
Allowing Another Computer to Connect Using Desktop Sharing
If you wish another user to connect to your computer, you can use the Krfb desktop sharing application to generate a connection invitation. To launch this application go to Application Launcher -> Internet -> Desktop Sharing or type krfb from the command prompt. If you press F1 while in this application, it will open the Desktop Sharing Handbook where you can learn more about using this utility. Figure 5.9c shows the initial screen for this application:
Figure 5.9c: Initiating a Connection Request Using Krfb
There are two types of invitations that you can create:
Personal Invitation: if you click this button it will display the hostname that the other person will use to connect, a temporary password to use for the connection, and an connection request expiration time of one hour. It will include a warning reminding you to only give this information to the person you wish to connect as anyone can connect using that information. The connection itself can be made from any VNC client. If the person is using PC-BSD, they can use KRDC as described above. On other operating systems, they will need to check if VNC is installed and download a VNC client if it is not. Once you press the Close button, the invitation expiry date will be listed in the main screen.
Email Invitation: if you click this button it will display a warning that anyone who reads the email containing the invitation can connect. Once you click the Continue button, the default email program will open up containing the invitation so that you can input the email address of the recipient and send the email.
It should be noted that the most secure way to convey the invitation information is through an alternate communications channel such as a phone call. Ideally, you are speaking to the other person as they connect so you can walk them through the problem you are experiencing and they can let you know what they are doing to your system as you watch them do it.
Figure 5.9d shows an example of a personal invitation:
Figure 5.9d: Connection Invitation Created Using Krfb
Once the other person has the invitation, they should input the information in the invitation into their VNC client (also called a VNC viewer) in order to start a connection. You will know when they try to connect as a pop-up message will appear on your screen similar to Figure 5.9e:
Figure 5.9e: The Other User is Trying to Connect Using the Invitation
In this example, a computer with an IP address of 192.168.1.111 is trying to connect. Buttons are provided to either accept or refuse the connection. You can also check or uncheck the box to "allow remote user to control keyboard and mouse". If you accept the connection, the other user will be prompted to input the invitation password. Once the password is accepted, they will see your desktop.