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March 26, 2001

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Article Index

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Introduction

Linux Independence Means Choices

Brief Review of Setting Up the K Desktop

Starting & Playing Simple Games

Mine-sweeper

Free-Cell & Solitaire

Mah-jongg

Tetris

Chess

Soko-ban

Working on Your Own

Conclusion

Resources & Links

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users:

#4: Getting Started Using the Windows-Like Desktop for Linux

Mike Angelo -- 26 March 2001(c)

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

Today, let's get down to fun using our MS-Windows-like K desktop (KDE) to start and to run programs. An easy and fun way to get started launching and running programs with the Linux, K desktop is to play some games -- the same sorts of games that you have on your MS Windows desktop such as Free Cell, Minesweeper, and Solitaire or some other games that come with the K desktop such as Chess, Mahjongg, Sokoban, or Tetris.

Of course these are simple games. However, you also can play some of the heavy-hitter, serious games on Linux such as Quake which have been ported to Linux.

Today let's limit our Linux gaming to games that already are listed in the K Menu (that's similar to the MS-Windows Start Menu). We will be using the K desktop and the K Menu with both a Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 and a Red Hat Linux 7 distribution. However, the games and other applications that are available in the default K Menu will not be exactly the same for both distributions. (If you use some other Linux distribution you more or less should be able to follow along here if you have KDE running on your Linux-based PC.)

Linux Independence Means Choices

One reason for this difference is that even though the Caldera and OpenLinux distributions both use KDE version 1.1.2, each Linux distributor independently decides which elements of the entire KDE package it will ship with its Linux distribution. Then each Linux distributor independently decides which KDE components to include in the default installation. Moreover, you or whoever installs Linux on your computer might override those default installation selections by adding or deleting selections.

This is one of the nice things about Linux. You have lots of choices. The downside of having all these choices is that you might have to do some homework to learn how to take advantage of the choices.

However, you will not have to worry about making those sorts of more complicated choices or doing any homework today. That's why we are sticking to games and applications that are already listed in the KDE version 1.1.2 K Menu today.

KDE recently moved into the version 2.x level. However both the Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 and Red Hat Linux 7 distributions come with KDE 1.1.2 installed by default. So, by using KDE 1.1.2 here, you do not have to worry about installing a different, albeit newer, version of KDE. Upgrading your KDE installation from version 1.1.2 to 2.x is another story.

Brief Review of Setting Up the K Desktop

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. Then in Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #3 - Making an MS Windows-Like Desktop for Red Hat Linux we got the K desktop running in Red Hat Linux 7, and made it look and feel more like the Microsoft Windows desktop.

If you already have not set up your Linux desktop as we did in Linux for Microsoft Windows Users #2 and #3, you might want to do so now. That way, it will be easier for you to follow along here now.

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. Please see Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #3 for instructions about accessing the KDE menus from the Red Hat 7 GNOME desktop.

However, it is very easy to switch from GNOME to KDE if you are using Red Hat 7. So if you already have not done so, please 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. Please see Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #3 for instructions about switching from GNOME to KDE if you are using Red Hat 7.

(Note: for the most part the following K desktop discussion is based upon using KDE version 1.1.2 as implemented in the Caldera's OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 Linux distribution using the 2.2.14 Linux kernel and Red Hat Linux 7 distribution using the 2.2.17-14 Linux kernel. However, you should be able to use this tutorial with KDE pre-2.0 versions installed into other Linux distributions. What actually happens for you might vary some depending upon what Linux distribution, what Linux kernel, and what KDE version you are using.)

Starting & Playing Simple Games

In order to help with adjusting to using Linux and having some fun at the same time, let's play some easy computer games. The method of this madness is that while are we having a good time playing games we really are learning how to start and run programs from the Linux desktop -- and getting more comfortable using Linux too.

Two of the games covered here, FreeCell and Minesweeper, are very much the same in MS Windows and the Linux K Desktop Environment. Then the KDE Chess, Mahjongg, and Tetris games are very similar to the same games that are easily available to MS Windows users.

So, chances are that you already have some experience playing at least a few of these games. That prior experience should make playing these games on your Linux PC even easier.

Figure 1. MS-Windows Minesweeper
Minesweeper

On your MS Windows desktop if you click on Start > Programs > Accessories > Games, you will find a game called minesweeper. Just in case you never have played Minesweeper, the object is to guess which boxes have the mines. If you uncover a box with a mine, the mine explodes and you lose the game. (Please see Figure 1.)

To play a very similar Minesweeper game on your Linux computer, simply click on the K Menu icon to open the K Menu. Then click on Games > Minesweeper. Ta! Da! It's just like the MS Windows Minesweeper game. (Please see Figure 2.)


Figure 2. Use the Linux K Menu to start the KDE version of Minewseeper shown above. In this view, the mines are exposed.


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