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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.