KDE makes it simple for you to modify your desktop's look
and feel according to your unique tastes. This chapter shows
how to change your desktop's background color(s), activate differ-
ent screensavers, resize icons, and even alter the behavior of your
mouse, windows, and menus. Most of what is covered here is not crucial
for completing everyday office- related tasks, but it can make your user experi-
ence more personal and perhaps even more pleasant.
Using the Control Center
The Control Center provides the interface that allows you to configure your
desktop environment and many KDE applications, including spell check for text
editing. However, the control settings you specify here will not affect applica-
tions that are not KDE-specific, such as OpenOffice or The GIMP.
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To open the Control Center, click on the Control Center icon (the monitor
with the circuit board) on the panel. On the left side of the window, you will see
a list of items you can customize, including File Browsing, Look & Feel,
Network, Peripherals, Sound, and Web Browsing.
Click on the category (or module) you want to customize to access a drop-
down list of all the subcategories available within that larger category. (A single
click on the category name will close this drop- down list.) Clicking on a subcate-
gory from the drop- down list will launch a window to the right that showcases
all the options for that subcategory.
When you are working with specific items in the Control Center, the follow-
ing buttons are available on the bottom of the window: Help, Defaults, Apply,
and Reset. Their actions are rather obvious. Help, Defaults, and Reset are good
to have for occasions when, for example, you go overboard with custom colors.
Tabs are located at the top of the Control Center window and provide fur-
ther information about the available options. The three tabs on the sidebar at
the left (Index, Search, and Help) are always the same. Index displays the full
list of available categories. Search lets you find what you need when you know
what you want to change but aren't sure of its category, and Help provides infor-
mation on the particular item you have selected. Note that, for the most part,
the different versions of KDE have the same modules, though the categorization
may be varied slightly. If something mentioned here isn't listed under the same
module in your version, use the Search tab to find its location.
Figure 11.1: Control Center Introduction Screen
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Depending on the category you have selected, the right side of the window
may also have tabs. These change as you change categories and may include top-
ics like Install, Layout, and Shortcut.
Spend some time exploring the Command Center to learn about all the
things you can customize to meet your needs.
File Browsing
The File Browsing module (the first module listed in the left sidebar of the
Control Center window) deals with the relationships between files and applica-
tions and the look and feel of the Konqueror File Manager. Different types of
files require different applications to open them (refer to the sections on
"Opening Files" and "Dealing with Microsoft Word Documents" in Chapter 3).
File types are often referred to as MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) types.
The MIME type of a file almost always can be determined by the file's extension. For
example, files ending in .jpg are JPEG image files.
File Associations
If you click the File Associations subcategory, you can check and configure (or
reconfigure) the relationships between MIME types and the applications neces-
sary to use them. This module tells Konqueror which applications to launch for
the various types of files to be opened. For example, by default, KDE recognizes
files with a .pdf extension as PDF files and opens them automatically with
Acrobat Reader, rather than try to open them with something like KView (which
doesn't work). Most of the relationships between file types and applications are
already configured for you. If not, this is where you change or add to these set-
tings, to be sure that files are opened with your preferred application.
Figure 11.2: Maneuvering the Tabs to Search
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To begin setting up these relationships, simply click on the appropriate file
type from the list called Known Types, and you'll see the right sidebar fill in
with options. On the top right, you can add filename patterns, so that every pos-
sible extension for a given file type will be recognized.
Figure 11.3: Filename Patterns
In the Application Preference Order box, you can add applications for each
particular type of file by clicking the Add button and selecting a program.
Figure 11.4: Choosing Applications
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You can change the order of applications that Konqueror launches to open
a file type by highlighting the program and clicking the Move Up and Move
Down buttons, as appropriate. This way, you can make sure your first choice is
the first one attempted.
Another way to alter a file/application relationship is by using the Open With option on
the menu that appears when you right-click a file (refer to Chapter 3 for more on using
Open With).
File Manager
File Manager, another subcategory of File Browsing, allows you to customize the
appearance of your File Manager window. The Behavior tab has options for
actions such as Open directories in separate windows and minimizing memory
use. It also allows you to enable Show file tips, which gives you small yellow pop-
up boxes with information on a file when your mouse pointer hovers over it.
Clicking the Appearance tab allows you specify the font type, size, and color to
be used in the File Manager. It also provides the options to enable Word-wrap
icon text, Underline filenames, and Display filesizes in bytes, which all refer to
the way things appear in the File Manager. Use the Trash tab to select whether
you want confirmation messages to appear when you delete, shred, or move
things to the trash. And finally, the Previews tab contains options for file pre-
views in Konqueror. Here you can specify the protocols for the previews you
want to be available. Some of these previews can take a lot of time to load,
depending on your computer, so you may want to disable them for certain pro-
tocols. You can also specify a maximum file size for previews.
Figure 11.5: Customizing File Manager
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Quick Copy & Move Plugin
This subcategory allows you to configure kuick, or the KDE Quick Copy & Move
Plugin. If you copy or move a file from one directory to another (using the drag-
and- drop method or other methods within the Konqueror File Manager), you
will be able to undo the function quickly if you make a mistake, by clicking on
the Edit menu and selecting Undo. This Control Center module is where you
decide how many directory edits you want cached and whether you want the
cached target directories available as menus.
Figure 11.6: Customizing the Quick Copy & Move Plugin
The Information module allows you to access important information about the
configuration and use of your system, such as which devices are connected, how
much of your system's resources they are using, and how much total memory is
being used. For users working in a networked office environment, the most
important subcategories here are probably Block Devices and Memory.
Block Devices shows the partitions of your hard drive, the amount of the
drive being used, and the other data- related devices you have on your computer,
such as floppy and CD-ROM drives. It provides the names of these devices, as
listed in the /dev (device) directory, and their mountpoints. This information is
helpful for setting up icons for these devices on your desktop, but it will proba-
bly be used more by system administrators than regular users.
The Memory item gives information about your computer's random access
memory (RAM). RAM is one of the most important factors in your computer's
speed and general performance. The information in this subcategory indicates
whether you have enough RAM for optimal performance.
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Look & Feel
To alter the design of your desktop so it is more aesthetically pleasing and to
personalize some of its functionality, simply click the Look & Feel module on
the left side of your Control Center window. Then click any of the options
(Background, Colors, Fonts, Style, and so on) to make your desired changes.
When you are through making changes within any of the subcategories, be sure
to click the Apply button before closing the window.
If you decide you don't like the changes you made, you can always click Defaults, and
then the Apply button, to go back to the KDE defaults.
The Look & Feel category is also accessible from the K menu, under Preferences.
Most of the customization options are self-explanatory, once you click them
to see the choices that pop up on the right side of the window, but here's a
Figure 11.7: Memory Information Can Give You an Idea How Strained a Computer's Memory
Resources Are

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Note that the default number of desktops is four. As you'll see later in the
"Desktop" section of this chapter, you can add up to 16 desktops.
You can make your desktop a flat color, or a variety of different gradients,
by clicking the Mode drop- down menu. Once you have it set up as you want, be
sure to click Apply to save the settings. If you forget to do this and try to close
the window, all is not lost. A dialog box will appear that asks you if you want to
save the new settings.
You can change the colors of different desktops by highlighting a given
desktop (listed at the top of the window by number), clicking the bar, and
choosing the color you want from the rainbow swatch there. The little monitor
at the upper right of this window will give you a preview of the color. Again,
once you have the color you want, click Apply.
If you want to use wallpaper (a background image or design) rather than a
plain color, click the Wallpaper tab to specify how you want the images to
appear: single or multiple, centered, tiled, scaled (which means spread out to
take up the full screen), and so on. KDE has several built- in wallpapers you can
choose from by clicking the Wallpaper drop- down menu.
Figure 11.8: Background Module
The Background module gives options for changing the background color of your
full desktop screen. You can choose a common background for all desktops, or
you can give each desktop a separate color, or even its own wallpaper. The default
setting applies a common background to all desktops, so uncheck the Common
Background box to customize background color for each separate desktop.
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By clicking on the Browse button and entering the path and filename in the
Location bar, you also can access one of your own image files to use as wallpaper,
rather than using one of the designs provided by KDE. Again, check the preview
monitor to make sure everything is as you want it before you click Apply.
The Color module under Look & Feel (Figure 11.10) allows even more complex
customization. Here you can alter the colors of active and inactive windows, win-
dow backgrounds, buttons, links, and so on. You can even change the color of
the text that appears on windows and menus. Choose from a list of preconfig-
ured complementary color schemes for your window design, or select your own
colors for each of the separate parts by clicking the name on the Widget Color
drop- down menu and selecting the color from the bar below it. For reference, a
"map" detailing the various window parts appears at the top, and it also pro-
vides previews as you make your choices.
If you make up your own color scheme, you can give it a name and save it
by clicking the Save Scheme bar. It will now appear on the Color Scheme menu
the next time you decide to make changes.
The scheme you choose for your windows, buttons, and so on will be constant for all of
your desktops. You can't have different color schemes for each desktop like you can with
Figure 11.9: Wallpaper Options
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Clicking Desktop in the Control Center displays options that set the way your
icons are arranged, whether you can see hidden files (usually configuration files
that you don't use on a regular basis), the menus that are visible, and so on.
Another feature you can change on the Desktop tab is the action taken when
clicking on the desktop with each of the different mouse buttons. Look at the
drop- down menus for each button to see the possibilities. Also, you can set
which types of files you want to have automatic previews of, such as image,
PostScript, and PDF files.
Figure 11.10: Color Module
Figure 11.11: Desktop Module
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Clicking the Appearance tab allows you to alter the size and type of the font
for the icons on your desktop (more about creating icons in the "Icons" section
in this chapter). You also can choose the color of the text that appears below
your icons and whether that text is underlined.
Figure 11.12: Icon Appearance
The Number of Desktops tab lets you add more desktops than the four you
get by default--up to 16 separate desktops. Clicking this tab also allows you to
give each virtual desktop its own name, which will appear in the control bar at
the bottom of your screen to help you stay organized. To add more desktops,
simply slide the button at the top of the window until you have the number of
desktops you want. Once they're activated, you can assign names by clicking on
each one and typing the name in the appropriate box.
Figure 11.13: Number of Desktops Tab
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The Paths tab allows you to change the directory paths for the Desktop,
Trash, Autostart, and Documents directories. Changing a path automatically
moves the contents of the directory. You do not have to do it manually.
Figure 11.14: Configuring Desktop, Trash, Autostart, and Documents Paths
The Fonts customization feature is self-explanatory. It allows you to choose dif-
ferent fonts for different parts of your desktop. Simply click the Choose button
for each of the different desktop sections (Toolbar, Menu, etc.), select your
favorite fonts, or change font sizes. You are given a preview screen showing what
each font will look like before you click Apply. If you make changes and decide
you liked the appearance better the way it was to begin with, click Defaults, and
you'll be back where you started.
Figure 11.15: Font Options
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If you choose to customize your icons, you'll see a window with two tabs: Theme
and Advanced. On the Theme tab, you may have the option to change the color
theme (depending on the version of KDE that you have). You can download and
install new themes here from the KDE website, as they become available.
Figure 11.16: Changing Icon Theme
On the Advanced tab you can change the size or color of icons, depending
on whether they're active or disabled (use the Set Effect button). The area
labeled Use of icon lets you choose which type of icons you want to configure,
for example, the toolbar or panel icons.
Figure 11.17: Advanced Icon Customization
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Launch Feedback
Launch Feedback allows you to Enable Busy Cursor--the little blinking represen-
tation icon that appears next to the cursor of whichever program's icon you
have clicked, showing that the program is in the process of launching. Here you
can enable (or disable) the taskbar notification of a program launch, and you
can select how long it takes for the startup indication to timeout.
Figure 11.18: Launch Feedback
Menu Settings
Depending on your distribution, you may have a Menu Settings module. This
simply lets you choose whether you'd like your main menu to be specific to your
distribution or the standard K menu. Here you can also select extra menus to
add to your panel. Note that this module may not appear in the Control Center
with some distributions.
Figure 11.19: Menu Settings Module
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This module lets you alter your panel, the row of buttons, and so forth at the
bottom of your screen.
Figure 11.20: Panel Customization
The Position tab allows you to change the panel's location (by default it is
along the bottom of your screen), alignment, and size. You even can specify the
exact percentage of desktop width/height that it uses.
If you aren't fond of the panel and like to have all of the screen available for
your own purposes, choose the Hiding tab. Put a check mark in the appropriate
boxes to enable automatic hiding, and your panel will disappear when you're not
using it. If you discover that you do need the panel, simply move your mouse
pointer to the place where the panel had been, and it will magically reappear. If
you have a panel display hiding enabled, you can even adjust the amount of time
it takes for the panel to disappear once your mouse pointer has left its vicinity.
Slide the button to the number of seconds that should elapse before the panel
disappears after you move away from it. You can also choose manual hiding, if
you don't want automatic hiding. With this option, you simply click the arrow
on the far right or far left of the panel to hide it yourself.
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Selecting the Look & Feel tab allows you to change the color of each sepa-
rate button on your panel (if you have Enable background tiles checked). This
makes the panel icons look more like a row of actual buttons. It also allows you
to select Enable icon zooming and Show tooltips.
Figure 11.21: Enabling Panel Hiding
Figure 11.22: Enabling Background Tiles
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The Menus tab allows you to choose which menus you want to have avail-
able from the K menu and to customize whether you want hidden files to
appear in your file browser menus, as well as the number of entries you want to
appear. You can also customize your Quick Start entries here. Quick Start is a
feature that adds the most recently or frequently used items to the top of the K
menu. Here you can decide if you want the most recently or frequently used
items, and how many you would like to appear.
Figure 11.23: Panel Menu
The next tab is Applets. Applets are small programs launched from within
another program. By enabling applets, you give yourself quick access to various
programs from your panel. For example, the knewsticker applet shows news
headlines (gathered from various news sites) within a small box on your panel.
If you catch a headline that interests you, click it, and Konqueror will take you
to the full story.
If your version of KDE does not have an Applets tab in the Panel module, these same
configuration options are available by going to K menu Configure Panel Add
Applet. Applet has a submenu of the different applets to choose from, and once one is
chosen and activated, simply right-click on it to access its Preferences menu and configure
it from there.
Getting applets working and onto the panel involves a few steps. Here's how
to set up knewsticker: on the Applet tab you will see two lists, identified as
Trusted Applets and Available Applets. Above the menu is a checklist where you
can mark the security level. (Load only trusted applets internal is the default
and most secure option because it allows you to decide which applets get
loaded.) If knewsticker (or the applet you want loaded) is in the right column
(Available Applets), you'll need to move it to the left column (Trusted Applets).
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To do this, click knewsticker (or any applet you want to load), and then click the
double left arrow. This will cause knewsticker to load. If you don't have knew-
sticker in either column, you can download it, and any other KDE applets, from
Once that is done, you'll need to go to the K menu and select Configure
Panel. From the submenu, select Add, then Applet, and then News Ticker from
the list of applets presented. Unfortunately, many of the applets listed here are
not listed by their names (KNewsTicker) but by what they do (News Ticker). The
selections shouldn't be too hard to figure out. See the "News Ticker" section to
customize the behavior and content of this applet.
You can choose to enable one of the screensavers provided by KDE by clicking
this option. Put a mark in the Enable screensaver box and check out the possi-
bilities by clicking whichever screensaver name sounds most interesting-- if you
have time to kill, check out all of them with the preview monitor. You can also
click the Test button at the bottom of the screensaver list, which actually shows
the highlighted screensaver on your full screen (simply click the mouse to return
to the Control Center), but won't permanently activate it until you click Apply.
Figure 11.24: Screensaver Activation
The Setup button, next to the Test button, is for setting the speed and other
attributes of the different types of screensavers. For a Banner screensaver, you
can type in your own message or inspirational quotation, which will then move
across the screen (with the color and speed of your choice) in place of the
default KDE banner.
In the Settings section of the window, you can choose the amount of time it
takes for the screensaver to activate, and whether a password is required to turn
the screensaver off and return to the desktop.
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It is best to leave the Priority marker set to Low. This determines the priority your
computer should give to this process. Moving it to High will improve the animation, but
could cause other background processes to have difficulties.

The Shortcuts feature allows you to customize the keyboard shortcuts for certain
tasks for which you are probably accustomed to using the mouse. Depending on
your version of KDE, this module may be called Key Bindings rather than
Shortcuts, though they do the same thing. It's a good idea to view this informa-
tion, even if you don't want to change it. These keyboard shortcuts can save you
a lot of time by allowing you to perform frequent functions without taking your
hands off the keyboard.

There are two main tabs: Shortcut Schemes and Modifier Keys. Under
Shortcut Schemes, there are three subtabs: Global Shortcuts, Shortcut
Sequences, and Application Shortcuts. On the Global Shortcuts tab, you'll see a
list of actions (such as Kill Window and Logout) and their corresponding key-
board shortcuts. For example, to log out, you can simply press

, instead of using the mouse to click your way out.
To change one of these settings, highlight the action, then click the Custom
button at the bottom of the window, and make your changes in the dialog box
that appears. Click OK when you are done.

You can also change the shortcuts to different preconfigured schemes with
which you may be more familiar, by clicking on the Current Scheme drop- down
menu (for example, a Mac Scheme or Unix Scheme).

Figure 11.25: Keyboard Shortcuts
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The Shortcut Sequences tab allows you to view the shortcuts for moving
between windows and different desktops. To change settings, use the method
described above.
Figure 11.26: Shortcut Sequences
Application Shortcuts are basically the same thing as Global Shortcuts,
except (obviously) they're for specific applications like KWrite or Konqueror.
Some of the functions you are likely to perform with these keyboard shortcuts
are saving, printing, and cutting and pasting. You can use the defaults or cus-
tomize these shortcuts in the same way you would with Global Shortcuts.
Figure 11.27: Application Shortcuts
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The Style section of the Control Center lets you customize the look and feel of
your widgets. Widgets are things like buttons and check boxes. KDE provides a
list of possible widget themes from which to choose. Note that this particular
customization section does not give you any previews.
You must click Apply to see what happens. If you want to go back to your
previous styles, you're out of luck if you don't remember your settings. But you
can always select the KDE default widget style and theme to return to the style
you had--before you started messing with any of these customizations.
Figure 11.28: Customizing Your Widgets
On the Effects tab, you can alter GUI effects, such as changing tooltip
behavior to Animate or Fade.
There are also style options for your toolbars on the Miscellaneous tab. You
can choose to have icons only, text only, or a combination of both--depending
on how cluttered or sparse you like your toolbars to look.
Another option is Highlight buttons under mouse, which simply means that
when your mouse pointer is hovering over a button, that button will be high-
lighted. If you uncheck this box, there will be no indication that your mouse
pointer is on top of a button. Here is where you can also enable or disable the
transparent toolbars. Tooltips can be enabled or disabled here as well.
Taskbar lets you configure whether you want all windows open on all desktops
to show up at once on the taskbar of the desktop that is active, or if you want
only the windows that are open on the active desktop to be shown, and whether
you want the windows list button displayed on the taskbar. You also can activate
or deactivate Group similar tasks, Sort tasks by virtual desktop, and Show appli-
cation icons.
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You can alter mouse button actions here to change what happens when you
click on the taskbar with the different buttons. See the drop- down menus for all
the options for each button.
Figure 11.29: Configuring the Taskbar
Theme Manager
The Theme Manager lets you install KDE themes. On the left side of the win-
dow is a list of preinstalled themes. Clicking on them gives you a preview in the
right part of the window. On the far right are four buttons. Add lets you browse
to the location of themes you have downloaded. Save As lets you change the cur-
rent theme under a new name, so you can make changes without damaging the
original. Create lets you save your current desktop settings as a theme of your
own, and Remove removes the theme from your list. The Contents tab allows
you to select or deselect certain areas if you don't want a theme to affect all
parts of your desktop.
You can find many additional themes to add at http://kde.themes.org.
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Window Behavior
The Window Behavior module lets you specify how you want your windows to
act. For example, you can choose whether making a window active requires a
click, or whether it will follow your mouse (with the windows moving to the
front as your pointer hovers over them). On the keyboard section, you can
switch between KDE mode and CDE mode, which means that pressing
, respectively, will switch between windows.
If you select the Traverse windows on all desktops option, then pressing
will take you through all windows on all desktops rather
than only the active desktop.
Figure 11.30: Theme Manager
Figure 11.31: Window Behavior
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On the Actions tab, you can customize each of your mouse buttons so that
they have different effects on the movement of windows, as well as the keyboard
commands. As noted in the Help field for this module, you can make these
modifications only if you use KWin as your window manager. If you use a differ-
ent window manager, changes in settings here will have no effect.
Figure 11.32: Customizing Window Behavior
The Moving tab lets you configure how you want the windows to look while
they are moving. The Advanced tab provides more fine-tuning for window
behavior such as shading, which means that windows roll up into the titlebar
when that action is enabled.
Figure 11.33: Moving Window Configuration Options
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Window Decoration
The Window Decoration module allows you to select preconfigured styles for
the borders of your windows. This mainly changes your widgets and the color of
window borders.
Figure 11.34: Advanced Options for Window Behavior
Figure 11.35: Window Decoration
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The Network module contains several items for the configuration of the system
itself. Most of these areas are best left to your system administrator and are
beyond the scope of this book. However, a few of them pertain to general user
configuration, like email and news ticker.
This module is simply for entering the user's basic email information and send-
ing bug reports to KDE.
Figure 11.36: Entering Email Information
News Ticker
In the News Ticker section, you can change the settings for the news ticker. By
default, knewsticker gathers news information from Linux news sites, such as
Slashdot, Freshmeat, and Linux Weekly News, but it can be set to any news site
you like. On the General tab, you can determine frequency of news search,
scrolling speed, font, and color.
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On the News sources tab, you can determine the sites that are checked.
Highlight the news source you want, and click Add.
Figure 11.37: Configuring the News Ticker
Figure 11.38: Choosing News Sources
An Add News Source... dialog box will appear. Enter the name of the site
(not the URL, simply the name by which you know the site--Linux Journal, for
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News sites generally have a file that contains both headlines and teasers for
articles. This is where knewsticker gets its information. These files frequently
end with an .rss or .rdf extension. The source file for the Linux Journal web site,
for example, is found at http://www.linuxjournal.com/news.rss. So simply enter
this in the Source file box, click OK, and you're done. If you right- click on the
news ticker display itself, you will be presented with the list of news sites you
have chosen. Select one, and you get an option to check news at that site, or you
can go directly to one of the headlines listed.
From the Peripherals module, you can access settings for your digital camera,
keyboard, and mouse.
The digital camera module is where you enter the model of camera you're
using by clicking on the little camera icon on the top right of the window. Other
options will become available, depending on the type of camera you've entered.
The options available for the keyboard are limited and depend a great deal
on the hardware design of the keyboard itself, as well as the X server being
used. You may be able to adjust the key click volume, if that feature is available
on your system. In general, you will most likely never need to fiddle with the
keyboard section of the Peripherals module.
You will probably find the mouse options in the Peripherals module more use-
ful. Mouse configuration is broken into two sections, designated by the General
and Advanced tabs. On the General tab, you can map your mouse buttons for
left-handed users and designate that a double- click (rather than the default
single- click) is necessary to launch or open a program, file, or menu item. You
can also choose to configure the mouse so that icons are selected automatically
when the pointer passes over them. This may be useful when you want to select
an icon without opening it. Other options include making the pointer change
shape (into a hand) when it passes over an icon, or having a dialog box open
when the pointer passes over an icon that states what the icon is or does. The
Figure 11.39: Add a News Source
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The settings on the Advanced tab affect your mouse speed and the time
intervals between mouse movements--things like the time span within which a
double- click must occur to be considered a double- click instead of two single
clicks. The default settings will be acceptable for most users, although tweaking
them may be useful for graphics work when you are working at the pixel level.
Feel free to experiment, but be careful about how fast you set the pointer accel-
eration, or the pointer will fly off the screen.
Figure 11.40: Available Options to Customize Your Mouse
Figure 11.41: Advanced Mouse Options
final option is to make the cursor larger, about twice the normal size, which is
useful for easier visual navigation.
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With the Personalization module, you can further refine your desktop environ-
ment by customizing such things as the way currency is written for your particu-
lar region and your password settings. Here's a quick overview of the options
available under Personalization.
Accessibility provides special features for disabled users, such as a visual bell
instead of an audible one and mouse navigation with number keys. It lets you
specify the length of time a key must be held down for it to repeat, and it also
allows the user to move the mouse with the Num pad (numeric keys) rather
than with the mouse itself.
Country & Language
Country & Language controls the language, numeric, and time settings and can
be changed to match the standards of your geographical location. If you live in
France, for example, and want to change the way currency is displayed on your
system so that the thousands separator is a period instead of a comma, this is
where you accomplish that. You also can specify whether the date should be
shown in month/day/year or day/month/year format, among other things.
Figure 11.42: Regional Customizations
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Security is always an important issue with computers. As you move across the
Internet, you go between secure and unsecured websites. Luckily, your system is
set by default to warn you of certain security issues and risks. All of this infor-
mation can be seen in the Crypto menu item. From there, you can make
changes to security measures like SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) and certificates.
Although security is beyond the scope of this book, you should certainly famil-
iarize yourself with security issues surrounding computers and the Internet. See
Chapter 10 for a brief overview of this topic.
The Konsole module is where you can customize your terminal windows. For
example, you can select the default terminal application and the colors for your
terminal windows. See Chapter 13 for more detailed information on configuring
terminal windows and using the command line.
The Passwords module gives you access to options for setting up passwords. You
can select one star or three stars (the number of stars that show up on the
screen when you type each letter). Or you can select no echo, so there is no on-
screen indication of how many letters are in your passwords. Finally, you can
specify the amount of elapsed time before password reverification is requested.
Session Manager
The Session Manager is where you set up your login/logout screens. For exam-
ple, you can enable Confirm logout or Save session for future logins. You can
also select the default action for what happens after logout: Login as different
user, Turn off computer, or Restart computer.
Spell Checking
The Spell Checking item allows you to customize some spell- check options, such
as Consider run-together words as spelling errors. It also allows you to choose
which dictionary you'd like KDE to use.
Power Control
The Power Control module basically does what you would think, given its title,
depending on your specific installation. You can monitor your batteries (espe-
cially useful for laptops), configure your power-saving features, control power set-
tings for your laptop, or set an alarm to alert you when your batteries get too low.
Most of these settings have to do with laptops, but the Energy setting will
allow you to control how long it takes for your display to go into sleep mode. To
get out of this power-saving mode once it has activated itself, all you need to do
is move your mouse or press a key.
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Assuming that you have a sound card and speakers on your system, KDE allows
you to make a variety of noises with your machine-- anything from sounds asso-
ciated with computer events to playing music CDs and more is possible.
KDE includes a nice CD player called KsCD for playing music CDs. From
the K menu, go to Multimedia, and you'll see it in the submenu. Despite its sim-
ple appearance, the player has some nice functionality, including the ability to
provide information by way of Internet connectivity.
On the Sound menu in the Control Center, you will find the Audiocd IO
Slave item. This allows you some control over the behavior of KsCD (or any CD
player you may have on your computer). Selecting it presents four tabs.
Figure 11.43: Energy Setting
Figure 11.44: The Audiocd IO Slave Items
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The first tab is CDDA Settings, which tells the computer where to look for
the CD-ROM drive. In most cases, it is probably best to check the Determine
device automatically and Never skip on errors boxes. The next two tabs allow
you to determine settings for sound quality of both Ogg Vorbis and MP3 digital
music file formats. (Ogg Vorbis is a more recent sound format that has the
advantage of being open source.)
The last tab is CDDB Settings. CDDB stands for CD database, an Internet
service that provides title and track information for music CDs. Here, you can
enter where your computer goes to access this information.
The Debian Linux distribution comes with the freedb settings by default. Normally, the
only necessary step here is to check the Enable CDDB Lookups box. The freedb site
provides a free service and seems to have a very good database.
The CD player sends data to the CDDB service, which then recognizes the
CD and sends back title and track information that is displayed on the CD player.
Figure 11.45: Title and Track Information
Clicking on the i (Information button) in KsCD presents further features. If the system
knows the artist being played (by way of a CDDB), this button allows you to search the
Internet for CDs, news, and tour dates of the artist.
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System Notifications
System Notifications is also on the Sound menu in the Control Center. This lets
you control the way you are notified when certain events occur, such as errors,
startup, the opening or closing of a window, and so on. Simply scroll through
the list of possibilities (there are too many to mention here), and see if there are
any you want to customize. If so, click the little box with the plus sign and
choose a notification method. Choices include: Log to file, which will log the
event notification to a file and not make it known to you overtly; Play sound;
Show messagebox; and Standard error output.
Figure 11.46: System Notifications
The System module is the place where you configure your system's controls. To
make alterations to many of these items, you will need to have root or superuser
privileges, because alterations here cause changes to your entire system. For
example, to make changes to the Boot Manager (LILO) or to the Date & Time
module, you'll need to be logged in as root.
Figure 11.47: System Module
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The Login Manager allows you to customize the login screen. You can select
a different background, choose which language it should use, choose which
users have access, and choose whether you want automatic or passwordless login
ability. Here, too, you need superuser privileges to make alterations.
Figure 11.48: Login Manager
The Printing Manager tells you how your printer is configured and will
show you which jobs are in the queue. It is best to leave this area to your system
Figure 11.49: Printing Manager
Adding Icons
For programs and utilities you use frequently, it's helpful to create icons on your
desktop for quick launching. Creating icons is a simple process, whether you
want to add them to the panel or the desktop itself. You can also move icons
around or remove them completely.
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Panel Buttons
Within the panel, icons are referred to as buttons. To add one, start by opening
the K menu and selecting Configure Panel Add Button. At this point, the K
menu will be replicated. Click on the application you want from this menu, and
the icon will appear on your panel bar. This icon will be the same image as the
one located next to the application name in the K menu. For example, say you
want to add an icon for KCalc; go to K menu Configure Panel Add
Button Utilities KCalc.
Figure 11.50: Steps to Make a KCalc Icon
Once the icon appears on your panel bar, all it takes is a click to launch the
program. If you want to move it to another spot on the bar, right- click the icon,
and select Move from the pop-up menu. The mouse pointer will change to a
four-way arrow that you can slide around on the bar. When it's at the location
you desire, click, and the icon will move to the new location.
Figure 11.51: Types of Menus that Pop Up to Move or Delete an Icon from a Panel
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If, instead, you want to move the icon off the panel and onto the desktop,
this is also an easy step. Place your pointer over the icon, hold down the left
mouse button, drag to the desired location on the desktop, and then release the
button. A menu will appear asking if you want to copy, move, or link the icon to
the new location. Once you've made your choice, the icon will appear in that
new location.
Desktop Icons
You may eventually may install programs on your computer that weren't there
originally and need to add icons for those programs on your desktop. Or there
may be a particular document you use frequently that you want to access with a
single click from the desktop.
To add an icon for an application, right- click any empty spot on your desk-
top. You'll be presented with a menu, the top item of which is Create New.
From there, you'll find a submenu. Select Link to Application. A dialog box will
appear, allowing you to set up the icon. Remember that an icon is a link or a rep-
resentation of a program that tells the computer to go to that program's loca-
tion and launch it.
Figure 11.52: Adding a Program Icon to the Desktop
On the General tab, enter the application name. On the left side of the box
is a button with a generic KDE icon. Clicking it will bring up thumbnails of all
the possible icon images from which you can choose. The Permissions tab allows
you to determine who will be able to use the link. On the Execute tab, fill in the
command that the computer will use to launch the program. This is the same as
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what you would enter in the Run Command box to launch a program. On the
Applications tab, enter the name that will appear under the icon. You also can
assign the file types associated with that application here. When you're done,
click OK, and you'll have your icon.
Figure 11.53: Icon Choices
To create an icon for any file or directory, simply right- click that file or
directory from the Konqueror File Manager display. For example, the Autostart
directory is handy to have on your desktop because you will probably change its
contents frequently. Autostart is a directory, but it is also a program--one that
launches the programs or files placed in it (see the "Desktop Icons" section of
Chapter 2). Open your home directory, and add .kde3 (the number will be dif-
ferent, depending on the version of KDE you are using) after your name in your
home directory pathname. One of the subdirectories displayed there should be
Autostart. Right- clicking presents the usual menu. Select Copy, and drag the
copy to the desktop. When you release the mouse button, another pop-up box
will appear, giving you the option to copy the image to the desktop. Now any
file or program you copy into Autostart will launch when you log in.
As time goes by, you may use some programs more than before and other
programs less often. To regain space on your panel and desktop, it's helpful
(and easy) to remove icons. If the icon is on the panel, right- click it, and choose
Remove. If the icon is on the desktop, right- click it, and choose Delete.
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Adding Items to the K Menu
You can add new menu items (with submenus, if desired) to the K menu with
KDE's Menu Editor. Go to K menu System Menu Editor to access the editor.
Figure 11.54: Opening the Menu Editor
Click the new item icon at the top-left corner of the window to add a new
entry to your K menu. A dialog box will appear, asking you to provide a name
for the new item.
Figure 11.55: Naming a New Menu Item
Type the name of the item you want to add, and click OK, and you will be
able to insert the information in the Menu Editor window, such as Comment
(not required) and Command (the command used to open the program on the
command line). Then choose the appropriate type from the drop- down menu
(application or link).
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You may need your system administrator's help filling in this information, depending on
where the program is stored.

You can select an icon for the item by clicking on the question mark icon but-
ton, which will take you to a window full of available icons from which you can
choose. Once you find the appropriate icon, simply click on it, and you will be
taken back to the setup window, with the icon you've chosen showing (rather than
the default question mark icon). Click Apply to add the new item to your menu.

Figure 11.56: Adding Mozilla (and Its Icon) to the K Menu
To add a submenu to an existing or newly created item, highlight the menu
item for which you want the submenu, and then click on the New Submenu
icon (just to the right of the New Item icon). From there, the steps are exactly
the same as you take to create a new menu item, except that the item will
appear as a submenu item when you are finished. You can choose icons for sub-
menu items in the same way you choose them for new menu items.

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