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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. Figure 5.3a shows a screenshot of KDE4 running on PC-BSD 9.0 with the Applications menu open:
Figure 5.3a: Applications Menu of KDE4
Each category in the Applications menu contains many applications and the Settings and System categories contain many utilities for configuring your system. If you are new to KDE4, take some time to discover which applications best suit your needs. Some of the applications which are provided by KDE4 include:
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.
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.