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Fedora Quick Start

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This chapter is from the book

Getting Around Fedora

As mentioned earlier, Fedora is the gateway to a better computing life. But getting to that better computing life means that you need to understand where Fedora stores things on its desktop. We have already covered the basics of what the desktop looks like, but in this section we go a little deeper and explore some of the menu options, as well as some of the tips and tricks you can use to get around Fedora.

The Menu Options

Fedora automatically creates three menu options for you along the top panel. These are Applications, Places, and System. Don't be confused into thinking that the Fedora logo is a menu in itself; it is just part of the Applications menu.

The three menus hold different things, and it is important for you to understand where you can find specific applications, utilities, and shortcuts that you will use to interact with your system.

The Applications menu holds all the GUI applications that are currently installed on your system, arranged into predefined groups such as Accessories, Office, Internet, and so on. At the bottom of this menu is an entry that enables you to add or remove additional applications.

The Places menu enables you to quickly navigate to certain locations that are either local to your computer or, in the case of network server, that are on remote machines. You will also find options for searching as well as accessing recent documents in the Places menu.

The final entry is the System menu, which holds all the associated utilities that you need to administer your system, including options to log out and shut down your system. Two submenus under the System menu neatly separate systemwide changes from user-based changes. The Preferences submenu enables you to change settings that are specific to your user login, so they affect only you and not any other users. Administration, on the other hand, enables you to make systemwide changes such as adding printers, working with logical volumes, and modifying system services, to name but a few.

Window Selector

An important part of the Fedora desktop is the Window Selector (shown in Figure 2.2), which appears on the bottom panel by default. As you launch applications, they appear in the main desktop, and an icon and associated application name appear in the bottom panel. Each application appears in the panel for that specific workspace, enabling you to easily organize your applications. The Window Selector also enables you to quickly switch between windows by clicking each entry. By clicking each entry, you bring the associated window to the front of the screen. If you then click again on the entry, you minimize that application, and maximize it if you click it once more.

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.2 Use the Window Selector to switch between open applications.

The Computer Icon

As an entry point to your system, the Computer icon is one tool for navigating through your system with the GUI interface. The interface itself is called Nautilus, and is the default file manager for Fedora. You will see a screen similar to that in Figure 2.3, although it may vary depending on whether you have additional drives and storage devices attached to your computer. You navigate through the file system by double-clicking each icon, opening the contents of the folder into a new window.

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.3 Use Nautilus, Fedora's GUI file manager, to navigate through the directories on your file system.

The Home Icon

Fedora uses the UNIX method of assigning a home directory to every end user. The directories are collectively stored under the /home directory, so you may see entries for /home/andrew or /home/bernice. However, Fedora also creates a shortcut icon for each user that appears on her desktop when she logs in. This shortcut icon takes the user directly to her home directory, where she can store documents and files that are specific to her. All your personalized settings are stored under the home directory because they are specific to you.

In older releases, Fedora left the home directory pretty much empty (with the exception of the personalized settings, which are hidden), but now there are seven folders to help you organize your files. You don't have to keep any of them, but they are there as a helping hand in your move to Fedora.

When you double-click a folder, the icon changes to denote that the folder's contents are open in another window, as shown in Figure 2.4.

Figure 2.4

Figure 2.4 Keep track of which folders are open by looking at the folder icons.

If you find that you are working with a lot of folders, Nautilus has a handy feature that lets you close all folders, or just the parents of the folder with which you are currently working. Just select the File menu within the Nautilus window and select your desired option.

Accessing the Command Line

Throughout this book, you will see references to the command line, also known as the terminal. This is your way to execute commands directly, using a text-based input rather than a GUI utility.

Earlier versions of Fedora kept the Terminal application in the Applications, Accessories menu. Fedora 8 has changed this so that the Terminal now appears under Applications, System Tools, reflecting its status as a tool for accessing system settings and carrying out administration. You can use several terminal applications, but Fedora defaults to gnome-terminal, and unless you have a really good reason for switching, you should find it does everything you need.

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