Chapter 7. Getting Started with the GNOME Desktop


7.1. Logging In and Selecting a Desktop
7.2. Logging Out
7.3. Desktop Components
7.4. Managing Files and Folders with Nautilus
7.5. Managing Network Connections
7.6. Accessing Network Shares
7.7. Opening or Creating Documents with
7.8. Finding Files on Your Computer
7.9. Exploring the Internet
7.10. E-Mail and Calendering
7.11. Moving Text between Applications
7.12. Important Utilities
7.13. Obtaining Software Updates

This chapter introduces the GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) desktop. It provides a brief overview of the most important elements and functionalities of your desktop, including an in-depth description of the Nautilus file manager. It also introduces several smart and useful applications that can help you feel at home in your new desktop environment. For information about configuring your desktop, see Chapter 8, Customizing Your GNOME Desktop.

7.1. Logging In and Selecting a Desktop

If more than one user account is configured on your computer, all users must authenticate. When you start your system, you are prompted to enter your username and password. This is the username and password you created when you installed your system. If you did not install your system, check with your system administrator for your username and password.

[Note]Auto Login

If your computer is not run in a networking environment and you are the only person using it, you can automatically boot into the desktop environment. In this case, you do not see a login screen. This feature, called auto login, can be enabled or disabled during installation or at any time using the YaST user management module.

The program managing the login process depends on the desktop environment installed on your system. For GNOME, it is GDM. The login screen has the following items:

Login Prompt

Enter your username and password to log in.

Language menu

Specify the language to use in your session.

Session menu

Specify the desktop to run. If other desktops are installed, they appear in the list. Make changes only if you want to use a session type other than your default (usually GNOME). Future sessions are automatically of the same type unless you change the session type manually.


Restarts the computer.

Shut Down

Shuts down the computer.

7.1.1. Controlling a Session

After your username and password are authenticated, the Session Manager starts. The Session Manager lets you save certain settings for each session. It also lets you save the state of your most recent session and return to that session the next time you log in.

The Session Manager can save and restore the following settings:

  • Appearance and behavior settings, such as fonts, colors, and mouse settings

  • Applications that you were running, such as a file manager or

    [Tip]Saving and Restoring Applications

    You cannot save and restore applications that Session Manager does not manage. For example, if you start the vi editor from the command line in a terminal window, Session Manager cannot restore your editing session.

7.1.2. Switching Desktops

If you installed both the GNOME and the KDE desktops, use the following instructions to switch desktops.

  1. If you are logged in to GNOME, click Desktop+Logout +OK. If you are logged in to KDE, select Logout+End Current Session. On the login screen, click Session.

  2. Select the desired desktop then click OK.

  3. Enter your username.

  4. Enter your password.

  5. Click Make Default to make the desktop you chose in Step 2 your new default desktop or click Just For This Session to leave your previous desktop as the default the next time you log in.

See Chapter 5, Getting Started with the KDE Desktop for information about using the KDE desktop.

7.1.3. Locking Your Screen

To lock the screen, do either of the following:

  • Select Desktop+Lock Screen.

  • If the Lock button is present on a panel, click it. To add the Lock button to a panel, right-click the panel then click Add to Panel+Lock Screen+Add.

When you lock your screen, the screen saver starts or the screen goes black. To unlock the screen, move your mouse to display the locked screen dialog. Enter your password then click Unlock or press Enter.