From Fedora Project Wiki

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

If you installed Fedora 8 from the Fedora 8 Live image, whether for Intel or compatible (i686), PowerPC (ppc), or 64-bit (x86_64), GNOME is the installed desktop. If you installed an alternative desktop, skip to the appropriate section: Tour of the KDE Desktop or Tour of the Xfce Desktop .

The GNOME Desktop

File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour F8GNOMEDesktop.png

The GNOME desktop has three distinct areas. From top to bottom, the areas are:

The Menu Panel

This panel stretches across the top of the screen. The left side contains three menus and a number of default icons that start software applications, and on the right it provides a clock, fast user switching, a volume control, and a notification area.

Applications Menu

This menu contains a categorized list of installed applications, which are updated as necessary when software is installed or removed. If you hold the mouse over a software entry, a brief description of its function appears. If you click one of these entries, that application starts.

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.
  2. The second subsection allows quick access to the CD/DVD creator tool, and to the Computer window, which allows you to browse all data storage attached to the computer. This subsection also grows to include links to any removable media you attach to the computer. For example, if you insert a CD or a USB stick, it will appear in this menu.
  3. The third section provides links to tools that help you browse and manage network locations.
  4. The fourth section lists recently accessed documents, and provides access to a search function that helps you quickly access any file on the system.

System Menu

This menu is divided into three subsections. The first provides access to configuration tools. The Preferences menu contains tools that affect only your account, and only require normal user access. The Administration menu contains tools that affect the whole system and require root access. These tools prompt for the root password when launched.

The second section provides access to the Help documentation, along with information about the Fedora project, and the different teams that make it up, and about the GNOME project.

The third section contains entries to pause or end the current session. Lock Screen starts the screen saver or blanks the screen depending on the session configuration. Enter your password to restore your session to the screen.

Application Launchers

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

File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour redhat-web-browser.png Mozilla Firefox web browser.
File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour redhat-email.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 giving presentations.
File:Docs Drafts DesktopUserGuide Tour openofficeorg-calc.png Calc is a spreadsheet tool. is 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 8 Live image. The Add/Remove program application, Pirut, 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. If the application is already listed in the Applications menu, you can also navigate to the application in the Applications menu, right-click on it, and select Add this launcher to panel.


To access a calendar, clicking 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 clicking 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:


If you double-click this icon, a window appears that contains available storage devices on the computer. These are also listed in the Places menu. Computer is equivalent to My Computer on Microsoft Windows.


This icon represents the location is 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 other's home directories by default.


If you delete a file, it is moved to this location. 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.

Permanently deleting files
To bypass the Trash and permanently delete a file, hold down the [Shift] key when deleting the file.

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.

The Window List Panel

The window list panel has three components:

Show Desktop

Use the Show Desktop button 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. All windows return to the previous configuration.

Window List

Open applications appear as button icons in the middle part of the panel, the Window List. The Window List shows all application windows in use on the desktop workspace, whether they are visible or hidden.

A hidden window appears with its title surrounded in square brackets [ ] . The currently selected application window appears as a depressed button, 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 window list.

Use the key combination [Alt] +[Tab] to switch between open windows.
Hold down the [Alt] key and press the [Tab] key to cycle through open windows on a desktop workspace.

Workspace Switcher

The workspace switcher is situated on the far right 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, 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.

Trash Icon

The Trash icon on the right end of the window list panel works the same way as the Trash icon in the desktop area.

Previous Page - Logging into the Desktop Table of Contents Tour of the KDE Desktop