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MozillaQuest the on-line computer magazine
March 13, 2001

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Article Index

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Introduction

Switching from the GNOME to the K Desktop

Making Red Hat's K-Desktop More MS-Windows-Like

Modify the K Panel & Taskbar

Change the Desktop Background Color

Tweak the Icons Look

Working on Your Own

Conclusion

Resources & Links

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users:

#3 -- Making an MS Windows-Like Desktop for Red Hat Linux

Mike Angelo -- 13 March 2001(c)

(Editor's Note: This is the third edition of a new regular MozillaQuest Magazine column designed to help Microsoft Windows users better understand and use Linux, and Linux software.)

Last time, in Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #2 - Getting Started with The Linux MS Windows-Like Desktop, we used the KDE Wizard in Caldera's OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 to make the Linux, K desktop look and feel pretty much like the Microsoft Windows desktop. Today, let's get the K desktop running in Red Hat Linux 7 and then make it look and feel more like the Microsoft Windows desktop.

Or, if you like you can follow along in this tutorial and use it as a guide for creating your own customized Linux desktop skin or theme. Then in our next session, let's get down to business using the K desktop to start and to run programs. Incidentally, this tutorial article should be helpful if you want to customize or re-skin the K desktop in other Linux distributions, also.

The K desktop (KDE) is the default graphical user interface (GUI) desktop for Caldera's OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 Linux distribution. However, GNOME is the default GUI desktop for the Red Hat 7 Linux distribution.

Nevertheless, you can access most KDE menus from the Red Hat 7 GNOME desktop. Simply, click on the footprint in the GNOME Panel (Taskbar) along the bottom of the GNOME desktop to pop up the GNOME menu. Then click on KDE menus. Please see Figure 1.

Figure 1. The GNOME Menu opened into the embedded KDE Menu

However, it is very easy to switch from GNOME to KDE if you are using Red Hat 7. So let's switch from GNOME to KDE for now. After you have used Linux enough to be comfortable using Linux, you might want to switch back to the GNOME desktop and give it a good spin.

Switching from the GNOME to the K Desktop

In the GNOME desktop, simply click on the footprint (bottom left) in the GNOME Panel to pop up the GNOME Menu. Next, please click on Programs > System > Desktop Switching Tool. Then in the Desktop Switcher box that pops up, (a) click on KDE 1.1.2, (b) next click on "Change only applies to current display", and then (c) click on OK. Please see Figure 2.

Figure 2. The Desktop Switcher

In order to make the desktop-change take effect, you must log out of the current GNOME desktop and then re-start the X server. To do that, simply click on the footprint in the taskbar to popup the menu. Next, please click Log out. Then when the logout box pops up please click on (a) Save current setup, (b) Yes, and then (c) on Logout.

That brings you to a monochrome, Linux command line prompt. Simply type startx and hit the enter key. Please see Figure 3. That will restart the X server and bring up the K desktop.

[johndoe@workstation7 johndoe]# startx
Figure 3. Example Linux command line prompt (left) and command to start the X server (right). The "#" is part of the prompt

(Note: the Linux command line is somewhat like the Run input box that you get to in MS Windows by clicking on Start > Run. Both the Linux command line and the MS Windows Run dialog box let you give instructions (commands) directly to the operating system (OS).

The Linux command line is even more like the MS-DOS window that pops up when you click the MS-DOS Prompt in MS Windows. The Run dialog box lets you enter only one command line. However, the MS-DOS window lets you enter a new command after the OS executes each command instruction. So does the Linux command line screen which more correctly is called a terminal screen.)


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