12 Tips for KDE Users: Page 2

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3) Virtual desktops

Desktops -- called Workspaces in GNOME -- are virtual screens. They are an option to dual monitors, allowing you extra space in which to work with only a click on the desktop manager on the panel. In fact, they're better than desktop managers, since they're easier to configure, and you can set up as many as your system's memory will allow -- assuming, of course, that you can stand the performance hit. But KDE is a responsive desktop, and on most recent systems, you can use the default four desktops without any noticeable slowdown.

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How you use desktops is up to you, but one useful approach is to put applications that are always open, such as your web browser or chat program, on separate desktops, and reserve one desktop for windows that you are constantly opening and closing. If you're a chronic multi-tasker, once you start using desktops, you'll wonder how you ever did without.

4) Desktop Customizations

GNU/Linux fans appreciate the power to do things their way, and KDE delivers all the options most of us could want. In fact, with its reputation for eye-candy, KDE probably offers more customization options than GNOME or any other available desktop.

Most of these options are available from the Appearances and Themes and Desktop menus in the KDE Control Center. From Appearances and Themes, you can select the desktop background, apply and customize themes, fonts, icons, widgets, and screen savers. You can even customize the use of what KDE calls Launch Feedback -- the bouncing of an icon when you select it that indicates that a program is loading. And if you really want to fine-tune, from the Desktop menu, you can adjust the behavior of the mouse and windows in KDE, right down to specifying custom settings for individual programs.

You don't have to make all these choices -- in fact, at first, you're probably better off not doing so, since their sheer number is overwhelming and if you hurry through them, you'll probably make a mistake. However, if you dislike the way that KDE looks or functions, there's usually no excuse for enduring. Probably, with a little digging, you can change it.

5) The Font Installer

Located under System Administration in the KDE Control Center, the Font Installer is the most convenient way to manage system fonts in GNU/Linux. Unlike Fonty Python, its only real graphical rival, the Font Installer supports not only TrueType, but also Bitmaps, Type1, and OpenType format as well. From a graphical designer's viewpoint, the only drawback is that the Font Installer does not allow sets of fonts to be activated or deactivated, a technique that prevents system resources being consumed by fonts that you don't currently need.

6) File Manager / Web Browser

You can correctly date the origin of Konqueror to the late 1990s from the fact that it attempts to treat the Internet as an extension of your hard drive -- a paradigm that was common back then. Although this idea never really caught on, Konqueror is probably the best example of it. It provides adequate, though not outstanding file management, with almost every aspect of the display customizable, including a handy interface for associating file types with particular programs for viewing.

As a web browser, Konqueror compares favorably to FireFox. It is quicker to open, and, although few plugins are written specifically for Konqueror, it can use many of Firefox's. It also includes all sorts of useful built-in features, including ad blocking, advanced cryptography settings, and the ability to register on sites that require a specific browser although it is another one.

Next page: Panels and the multiple clipboard

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Tags: Linux, Windows, KDE, instant messaging, Storage


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