Tour of the Xfce Desktop
This chapter introduces the Xfce desktop in Fedora. It is easier to explain how to use the desktop after explaining some of the common terminology used with the Xfce desktop.
The Xfce Desktop
One common reason for using the Xfce desktop is to provide a feature-rich desktop for a PC or laptop with limited memory.
The Xfce desktop has three distinct areas. From top to bottom, the areas are:
- The window list panel
- The desktop area
- The menu panel
The layout and location of these items can be customized, but the term used for each of them remains the same.
The window list panel is located at the top of the screen. It features the Show Desktop icon, displays the running applications as buttons, and gives access to the workplace switcher and the trash.
The desktop area is the large space between the two panels. The Filesystem, Home Directory, and Trash icons are located in the top left corner of this area; users more familiar with Microsoft Windows may equate these icons to the My Computer, My Documents, and Recycle Bin respectively.
The menu panel is located at the bottom of the screen. On the left part of the panel it contains a number of default icons that start software applications and, on the right, also provides a clock, fast user switching, volume control applet and a notification area.
The following sections discuss the XFCE menu panel, desktop area, and window list panel in further detail.
The Xfce Menu Panel
This panel contains a number of launchers for common software. To customize its appearance, right-click on the panel and select Properties.
Right-clicking the clock on the right hand side of this panel provides access to a menu that allows you to:
- Change the clock's display to and from a 12 and 24 hour format.
- Change to or from a digital clock style.
Logging out of XFCE provides a way to switch the current username, this is located next to the clock.
The Xfce Desktop Area
Before any additional icons are added to the desktop, the desktop area contains three icons by default:
- Filesystem - This contains all mounted volumes (or disks) on the computer; all of these are also available by clicking on the Applications menu and selecting Filesystem. Filesystem is equivalent to My Computer in Microsoft Windows.
- Home - This is where all files - such as music, movies and documents - belonging to the logged-in user are stored by default. There is a different home directory for each user and users cannot by default access each others' home directories. Home is equivalent to My Documents on Microsoft Windows.
- Trash - Deleted files are moved here. Empty the Trash folder by right-clicking the Trash icon and clicking Empty Trash.
Right-clicking on the desktop presents a menu of actions related to the desktop area. For example, clicking on Change Desktop Background lets you choose a different image or photograph to display on the desktop.
The Xfce Window List Panel
The Applications button consists of several components:
- Run Program...
- The Terminal
- The File Manager
- The Web Browser
- Program Type Headings
- Help, About, and Quit buttons.
Open applications appear as button icons in the middle part of the window list panel; these are the open windows being listed.
The application window that has focus appears as a depressed button. Usually, this is the application whose window is on top of all others currently on the screen. To switch from one running application to another, click on the desired application's button in the window list.
The workspace switcher is situated on the far left and allows you to move between workspaces. Workspaces have long been a feature of UNIX and Linux desktop environments; each workspace provides a separate desktop where applications can be organized, each with its own desktop area and corresponding window list panel. By default there are four workspaces but you can change this number by right-clicking on the workspace switcher and choosing preferences.
Clicking on the show desktop button (pictured at left) minimizes all open windows and reveals the desktop area; a window can then be displayed by clicking on the minimized window's button in the window list panel. This action is useful when open applications' windows becomes cluttered.
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