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April 14 2001

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Introduction

Starting & Running Simple Productivity Tools

kCalc

KEdit

Rich Text Editors

KPaint

KView

Working on Your Own

Conclusion

Resources & Links

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users #5:

Simple Number Crunching, Word Processing, & Photo Viewing with the Windows-Like Desktop for Linux

Mike Angelo -- 14 April 2001(c)

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

The Microsoft Windows operating system (OS) comes with some pre-installed, basic, productivity tools for word processing and other office or school productivity chores. So do many Linux distributions come with pre-installed, basic, productivity tools.

These pre-installed tools generally are simple, stripped-down, lightweight, applets. Nevertheless, they are handy and can be useful for simple tasks.

You will find the pre-installed Windows 98 productivity tools at Start > Accessories on your MS Windows desktop. Notepad and WordPad are simple, text editors (simple word-processors). Calculator is a simple, computer simulation of a hand-held electronic calculator for number crunching. Paint is a very simple drawing program. And Imaging for Windows lets you view photos and other computer graphics.

In like manner, the Linux-based K desktop (KDE) comes with some pre-installed productivity-tool accessories too. Our primary interest in learning to use these lightweight Linux productivity tools today is to get familiar with starting, running, and using Linux programs -- and to get comfortable using the Linux desktop. Of course in doing that we also will learn to use these handy programs.

In this session, let's limit our Linux office and school productivity-software wanderings to tools that already are pre-installed in the K Menu. The K Menu is functionally much the same as the MS-Windows Start menu.

Then, in upcoming sessions let's consider heavy-duty Linux productivity software that looks and feels somewhat the same as heavy-duty MS Windows office productivity software -- software such as Word, Excel, and so forth. Some alternative productivity software runs on both the Linux and MS Windows platforms.

For example, AbiWord is a medium-weight Microsoft Word clone that runs on both the Linux and Windows operating systems. For more information about AbiWord, please check our article, AbiWord - A Free, Decent, MS Word Clone for the Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms. StarOffice is a more robust, heavy-duty, office suite that runs on both the Linux and MS Windows platforms.

There is a nice advantage to using software that runs on both the Linux and MS Windows operating systems. Once you learn how to use such cross-platform (XP) software on one OS, you pretty much know how to use it on the other platform(s). That means you need to invest less time and effort in learning how to use applications. If you are an IS/IT manager, adopting XP software can mean less training cost overhead in the long run for your users/employees.

Note: for the most part the following K desktop discussion is based upon using KDE version 1.1.2 as implemented in (a) the Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 Linux distribution using the 2.2.14 Linux kernel and (b) 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 and what KDE version you are using.

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 our 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.

We will be using the K desktop and the K Menu on both a Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 and a Red Hat Linux 7 distribution for today's session. However, the productivity and other applets that are available in the default K Menu will not be exactly the same for both distributions.

One reason for this is that even though the Caldera OpenLinux 2.4 and Red Hat Linux 7 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.


Starting & Running Simple Productivity Tools

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 we got the K desktop running in Red Hat Linux 7 and then made it look and feel more like the Microsoft Windows desktop.

If you already have not so set-up your Linux K desktop, please go to those articles and do so now. If you are not already familiar with using the K Menu to start programs on your Linux-based computer, please read Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #4 now. That way it will be easier for you to follow along today.

kCalc

There is a pre-installed hand-held calculator simulation that comes with Windows 9.x. If you already are not familiar with it, you will find it at Start > Accessories > Calculator. You can change the scope of the Windows-Accessories Calculator features by clicking on View in the Menu bar and then selecting either Standard or Scientific mode. (Please see Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Microsoft Windows Calculator in scientific mode. Note that both trigonometric and statistical functions are included in the scientific mode. Click on View in the menu bar to select the mode. The default standard mode has only six of the eleven key columns shown in this scientific mode view.

The K desktop on your Linux-based computer has a pre-installed calculator too. Simply click on K > Utilities > Calculator to open it. It looks similar to the Windows Accessories Calculator with which you likely already are familiar. (Please see Figure 2.)

Figure 1. The KDE, kCald calculator in statistical mode.

However, the KDE calculator, kCalc, is more configurable than the Windows Accessories Calculator. Simply click on the kCalc button to the left of the virtual LED display on the calculator for the configuration options.

There is no simple mode here. It's all scientific. Your choices are either Trigonometric mode or Statistical mode.

However, please do not let the more complete scientific arrangement of kCalc scare you. For more simple calculations just focus on the main numeric keypad area in the middle-right part of the kCalc virtual keyboard. If you do that it will be just like using a simpler calculator. (The main numeric keypad area is outlined in off-orange in Figure 2.)


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