In This Chapter
What Is KDE?
Basic Desktop Elements
Configuring KDE with the Control Center
Configuring the Panel
Manipulating Files and Directories
Project: Setting Up a Development Environment
What Is KDE?
KDE stands for the K Desktop Environment. The K doesn't stand for anything in particular. KDE provides some of the same functionality for a graphical environment that is found in other popular operating environments, such as Macintosh OS or Windows 98. However, it also provides some unique features of its own to enhance your graphical work environment.
KDE is a complete desktop environment, as opposed to being just a window manager or program launcher. Several capable window managers exist for Linux, including olwm, fvwm, afterstep, and others. However, KDE provides much more functionality than a simple window manager provides. For more information on the differences between desktops and window managers, see Chapter 2, "Introduction to the Desktop."
KDE Is a Graphical Desktop
KDE provides all the capabilities of a desktop. For example, KDE enables you to do the following:
Put icons on the desktop to mount and unmount removable disks, such as floppies.
Browse the filesystem graphically.
Associate applications with files of a particular type so that when you click a file, it automatically loads the correct application.
Create a desktop printer icon, to which you can drag files to print them.
None of these are features of a window manager or program launcher by itself. The value of KDE is that it simplifies many tasks that a user must perform by providing a graphical environment that simulates something more familiar to the user. In other words, KDE provides a desktop metaphor, which is a way of displaying and manipulating documents, directories, and programs in a manner that is more intuitive and appealing than typing commands at a shell prompt.
The KDE system includes not only the desktop, but also a whole host of applications and utilities to go along with it. In the default distribution of KDE, there are more than 100 programs, ranging from games to system utilities to a full-blown office suite. Each of these programs is useful in its own right; in addition, however, the KDE applications can interoperate with each other to make certain operations easier. For example, you can drag a package file from the file manager to the package manager to view the contents of the package and install it.
KDE Is a Project
In addition to being a graphical desktop, KDE is also a huge project. The KDE project provides a complete applications development framework and many guidelines and resources for the development and use of KDE programs.
Thousands of developers around the world work on various aspects of the KDE system, including programming, documentation, translation, all kinds of testing, and packaging. The KDE Web site is located at http://www.kde.org/.
This Web site contains many resources for both users and developers of KDE. For example, the Web site provides online documentation in many languages. Also, users can participate in mailing lists to receive or give assistance in working with KDE. For developers, application style guides, automated tools for constructing KDE applications, bug and feature wish lists, and more can be found here.
The KDE project is devoted to a philosophy of ease-of-use, consistency, and quality for graphical applications in the Linux world.