Chapter 3. Getting into the Desktop


  • Understanding your desktop

  • Using the K desktop environment

  • Using the GNOME desktop environment

  • Configuring your own desktop

  • Playing with desktop eye candy using AIGLX

In the past few years, graphical user interfaces (GUIs) available for Linux have become as easy to use as those on the Apple Mac or Microsoft Windows systems. With these improvements, even a novice computer user can start using Linux without needing to have an expert standing by.

You don't need to understand the underlying framework of the X Window System, window managers, widgets, and whatnots to get going with a Linux desktop system. That's why I start by explaining how to use the two most popular desktop environments: KDE (K desktop environment) and GNOME. After that, if you want to dig deeper, I tell you how you can put together your own desktop by discussing how to choose your own X-based window manager to run in Linux.

Understanding Your Desktop

When you install Linux distributions such as Fedora, SUSE, Mandriva, and Ubuntu, you have the option to choose a desktop environment. Distributions such as Gentoo and Debian GNU/Linux give you the option to go out and get whatever desktop environment you want (without particularly prompting you for it). When you are given the opportunity to select a desktop during installation, your choices usually include one or more of the following:

  • K desktop environment (—In addition to all the features you would expect to find ...

Get Linux® Bible, 2008 Edition: Boot Up to Ubuntu®, Fedora®, KNOPPIX, Debian®, openSUSE®, and 11 Other Distributions now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.