Originally Published: Saturday, 18 September 1999 Author: David Raufeisen
Published to: news_learn_firststep/Firststep News Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

K Desktop Environment

KDE stands for"K Desktop Environment." What does the "K" stand for? Just K, according to the KDE web site http://www.kde.org. But what is it? KDE is a graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations. KDE provides features such as drag and drop functionality to Linux - just like Windows, kids. Unlike Windows, KDE is free software, released under the GPL.

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KDE stands for"K Desktop Environment." What does the "K" stand for? Just K, according to the KDE web site http://www.kde.org. But what is it? KDE is a graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations. KDE provides features such as drag and drop functionality to Linux - just like Windows, kids. Unlike Windows, KDE is free software, released under the GPL. So you won't have to kick another buck to BillG@microsoft.com when the "upgrade" comes out. And if you need to customize it, say for a specific work environment, you don't have to pay big bucks to Redmond then, either.

Installation

If you bought or downloaded a recent release of Linux, it's a good bet you already have KDE on your PC. If not, you can download the necessary packages from ftp://ftp.kde.org, or any number of mirror sites. The KDE team generally makes RedHat RPM and Debian DEB packages available, as well as source code so you can compile your own binaries. Not sure how to compile a binary? It's actually simple, but it can be intimidating for the newbie, so . . .you can also check the home page of your particular ditribution. Caldera, for instance, makes RPMs available at it's FTP site, so you can easily install the whole shebang and be sure that it all works. It's a good bet your ditribution does, too, so check it out.

You'll need to install at least the KDElibs and KDEbase packages, but you already know this because you looked at the instructions at the KDE web site, right? You'll want to install more than that - like games, and other fun stuff.

Usage

KDE is your desktop. It's as simple as that. If you log in to a console prompt, type 'kde' and watch it launch for the first time. You can manage files, start programs, surf the web with Netscape - in short anything you can do in other X11 window managers you can do with KDE, only more. KDE provides a level of interoperability over and above a simple wndow manager. For one thing, drag and drop functionality is built in, so you can easily shuffle files from folder to folder. Forget where you downloaded those tar files? You can browse through your file system graphically and easily locate the missing package.

KDE also allows you to start applications automatically, by configuring default Mime types. For instance, *.tar files, when clicked in the file manager, would automatically launch Ark, so you could view the contents of the archive and extract it to the directory of your choice. Don't like Ark? You can change the default Mime type in less time than it takes to finish reading this. (Okay maybe a little bit more time than that - there, it's done.)

Configuration

KDE comes with the K Control Center, a powerful graphical configuration tool. You can change nearly everything about your desktop. Dependin upon your installation of KDE, you will have a number of themes to choose from to configure your desktop. Themes save you the trouble of changing individual characteristics, such as background, icons, and system event sounds by placing everything neatly in a file, to be installed the the Theme Manager. Of course, if none of the themes included suit you, you can go to Kde.Themes.Org and download some more to your liking. Last time I checked there were over 80 different themes available for download. Alternatively you can harness the power of the K control center and change each and every setting individually. But that can get tiresome, which is why people design themes. if you have the time and inclination go for it. You might decide you have a desktop you really like and want to share it with the world. In that case package it as a theme and submit it to themes.org. That's what Free Software and the Open Source movement is all about. If you have something to contribute, by all means contribute!

Tips

Read the documentation. I know, it's a lame tip, but it's the best one I can give you. The folks on the KDE team do a marvelous job documenting all of the quirks, fun stuff, and frequently asked questions, and their web site provides a wealth of information. Be sure to check out the mailing list archives if you are having a particular problem. They are monitored by the developers, so the person answering your question just might be the person who coded the program. I once had my KPPP question answered by Harri Porten, the developer of the project. It's one of the reasons I love Linux.

Credits

David J. Kuntz Kunda@linux.com

Resources

The KDE home page KDE.Themes.Org

Of course, you can always hop over to the linux.com chat area, irc.linux.com, and get help in the #jumpstart section. And don't forget the Help files.

Keywords KDE Desktop X11 GUI





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