From Fedora Project Wiki

This chapter introduces the GNOME desktop in Fedora. The desktop becomes easier to use after you know some of the common terminology used, beginning with the GNOME desktop.

If you installed Fedora 11 from the Fedora 11 Live image, whether for Intel or compatible (i586), PowerPC (ppc), or 64-bit (x86_64), GNOME is the installed desktop. If you installed an alternative desktop, you may skip to the appropriate section: Tour of the KDE Desktop or Tour of the Xfce Desktop .

The GNOME Desktop

The GNOME Desktop has three distinct areas. From top to bottom, they are:

  • Top Menu Panel is the top gray bar
  • Desktop Area is the center workspace area
  • Window List Panel is the bottom gray bar

The Top Menu Panel

This panel stretches across the top of the screen. The left side contains:

  • Applications
  • Places
  • System
  • Program icons (default web browser and email client)

The right side of the panel is home to:

  • The Notification area
  • Volume Control
  • The User Switch area
  • A clock and Calendar
Function Description
If you hold the mouse pointer over the menu text or an icon, a brief description of its function appears. If you click one of these icons, that application starts.

Applications Menu

This menu contains a categorized list of installed applications, which are updated as necessary when software is installed or removed. When you click on Applications a drop-down list appears. The installation default list is:

  • Accessories
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Internet
  • Office
  • Other
  • Programing
  • Sound & Video
  • System Tools

Places Menu

This menu is divided into four subsections.

  1. The first subsection allows quick access to commonly accessed folders, and makes it easy to keep your file system organized. These links are:
    • Home Folder where your personal files are kept by default.
    • Desktop which is the main work area on your computer.
    • Documents plus a list of several folders recently accessed.
  2. The second subsection allows quick access to:
    • The Computer window allows you to browse the computer's files and all data storage attached to the computer.
    • Other devices listed are the links to devices attached to your computer such as memory sticks and CD/DVD drives. This list grows and shrinks depending on the removable media you attach.
  3. The third section provides links to tools that help you browse and manage network locations.
    • Network allows you manipulate your networks.
    • Connect to Server allows connections to public or local networks.
  4. The fourth section helps you quickly access any file on the system.
    • Search for files is the search function.
    • Recent Documents lists the documents and folders recently accessed.

System Menu

This menu is divided into three subsections.

  1. The first provides access to configuration tools.
    • The Preferences menu contains tools that affect only your account, and only require normal user access. These links include:
    • The Personal link provides access to your personal information.
    • Appearance lets you customize the appearance of your desktop and windows, and adjust your window preferences.
    • Authorization provides access to configure authorizations.
    • Default Printer lets you select your default printer.
    • Desktop Effects allows you to select special effects for your desktop.
    • Display helps you change the screen resolution.
    • File Management changes behavior and appearance of the file management windows.
    • Input Method lets you choose the mehtod to be used or to disable the input method usage on the desktop.
    • Keyboard sets your preferences for your keyboard.
    • Keyboard Shortcuts allows you to assign shortcut keys to commands.
    • Main Menu you can change which applications are shown on the main menu.
    • Mouse lets you set your mouse preferences.
    • Network Connections manages and changes your network connection settings.
    • Network Proxy lets you set your network proxy preferences.
    • PalmOS Devices help you configure your PalmOS devices.
    • Personal File Sharing sets your preferences for sharing of your personal files.
    • Power Management allows you to configure power management.
    • Preferred Applications lets you select your default applications.
    • Screensaver sets the screensaver preferences.
    • Software Updates lets you change your software update preferences.
    • Sound you can change the volume and associate sounds with events.
    • Startup Applications allows you to choose which applications start when you log in.
    • Windows lets you set your window properties and preferences.
    • The Administration menu contains tools that affect the whole system and require root access. These tools prompt for the root password when launched.
    • Add/Remove Software lets you change the software installed on the system.
    • Authentication allows you to control how the system verifies users who attempt to log in.
    • Bootloader lets you choose your default boot entry and the time the boot message is displayed.
    • Date and Time permits the system date and time to be changed.
    • Firewall link lets you setup and configure a firewall for your computer.
    • Language allows you to change the default language.
    • Logical Volume Management lets you configure the LVM in a graphical setting.
    • Network permits configuration of your network connections and devices.
    • Network Device Control lets you monitor and control your network devices.
    • Printing allows you to configure your printers.
    • Root Password lets you to change the root password for the system.
    • SELinux Management allows you to change security settings that protect your computer.
    • Services lets you decide which services will run when the system starts.
    • Software Sources permits you to enable or disable software repositories.
    • Update System looks for software updates at your selected software sources.
    • Users and Group allows you to add or remove users and groups.
  2. The second section provides access to the Help documentation, along with information about the Fedora project, the GNOME project and information about your computer and it's operating system.
    • Help is the guide for questions about GNOME.
    • About GNOME tells you about Gnome and the people who made it.
    • About Fedora is a guide containing documentation about the Fedora project.
    • About This Computer provides basic information about your computer and links to the process/resource monitor.
  3. The third section contains entries to;
    • Lock Screen starts the screen saver or blanks the screen. It will ask for your password to restore your session to the screen.
    • Log Out of the current session.
    • Shut Down gives you options to Hibernate, Restart, Cancel or Shut Down your computer.
Root Password
When your computer asks for your root password it means you are entering an area that changes your system's operation and/or performance. Beware of the messages the program generates and be sure you really want to make the changes.

Application Launchers

The series of icons next to the menus provide quick access to commonly used applications. These icons are called launchers.

FirefoxIcon48.png Mozilla Firefox a web browser.
EvolutionIcon48.png Evolution mail client and personal information manager.
File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-writer.png Writer is a word processing program.
File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-impress.png Impress is for creating and editing presentations.
File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-calc.png Calc is a spreadsheet tool.

Note.png programs are not installed when installing from a Live CD
Writer, Impress, and Calc are displayed only if Office and Productivity Tools was selected during installation. They are not installed by default if you installed from the Fedora 11 Live image. The Add/Remove program application can be used to install these office tools at any time.

To add more launchers to a panel, right-click on the panel and select Add to Panel. You can also add launchers that are in the Applications menu. Right click on the application you want to add and select Add this launcher to panel.


To access the calendar, click the clock on the right hand side of the panel. When you double-click a date, the Evolution personal information manager opens.

Fast User Switching

If you click the current username located next to the clock, a list of available users appears. To switch to a different user account, select the username.

Volume Control

The volume control allows you to quickly change the overall volume of sound on your computer. Click the icon to show a slider, and then use the mouse to drag the slider to the desired volume. If you double-click the icon, a volume control window appears in which you can separately change the volume of different sound sources.

The Desktop Area

The default desktop area, or workspace, contains three icons;

  • Computer - If you double-click this icon, a window appears that contains available storage devices on the computer. These are also listed in the Places > Computer menu.
  • The Home icon represents the location where all of the logged in user's files, such as music, movies, and documents, are stored by default. There is a different home directory for each user, and users cannot access each others home directories by default.
  • Trash does not permanantley delete your files. The disk space used in the Trash is not recovered until it is emptied. To empty the Trash, right-click the icon and select Empty Trash.

The Fedora Live CD desktop also includes an icon for installing Fedora to your hard disk. Additional icons may appear depending on your system. For example, inserting a USB stick will cause an icon to appear for accessing the stick.

Permanently deleting files
To bypass the Trash and permanently delete a file, select Delete from the menu.

Using The Desktop

Right-click on the desktop area for a menu of actions related to the desktop area. For example, the Change Desktop Background action lets you choose a different image or photograph to display on the Desktop. Add program icons to your Desktop by a left click on the program's icon and select > Add this launcher to desktop or Add this launcher to the panel.

The Bottom Window List Panel

This panel has four components:

  • The Show Desktop, button, on the left side, is used to hide all open windows, and reveal the desktop area. This function is useful when the open applications obscure an important desktop file or icon. To restore the windows, click the Show Desktop button again and all windows return to their previous location.
  • Any open applications appear as button icons in the middle part of the the Bottom Window List Panel. It shows all application windows in use on the desktop workspace, whether they are visible or hidden. A hidden window button appears with a white background. The currently selected application window button has a gray background, and is said to have focus. Usually, this is the application whose window is on top of all the others on the screen. To switch from one running application to another using the mouse, click on the desired application's button in the panel.
Use the key combination [Alt] + [Tab] to switch between open windows.
Holding down the [Alt] key and pressing the [Tab] key will open a small window containing icons of all of your open windows. Repeatedly pressing the [Tab] key cycles through the icons. Release both keys on your selection to pull it to the front
  • The Workspace Switcher is the group of squares situated on the far right. They allow 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, and a corresponding window list panel. By default there are four workspaces available. To change this number, right-click on the workspace switcher and choose preferences.
Use the key combination [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Left/Right Arrow] to switch between workspaces.
Hold down the [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys and press the [Right or Left Arrow] key to cycle through the available workspaces on your system.
  • The Trash icon on the right end of the window list panel works the same way as the Trash icon in the desktop area. If you delete a file, it is moved to this location. A right click on the Trash icon brings up the options to, Open the folder, Empty Trash, Remove from Pane, and Lock to Panel.
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