5.3. Desktop Components

The graphical desktop environment should not pose any problems for former Windows or Macintosh users. The main components of the desktop are the icons on the desktop and the panel at the bottom of the screen.

Figure 5.1. An Example KDE Desktop

An Example KDE Desktop

Desktop icons represent files, directories, applications, functions, and removable media, like CDs or DVDs.

For information about configuring your desktop elements, see Chapter 6, Customizing Your KDE Desktop.

The panel (in KDE also called “Kicker”) is a bar, typically located at the top or the bottom of the screen. It is designed to provide all vital information needed about running applications or the system and easy access to some important functions or applications. If you hold your pointer over an icon, a short description is displayed.

Figure 5.2. KDE Panel (Kicker)

KDE Panel (Kicker)

The panel typically consists of the following areas:

Main Menu Icon

By default, the left end of the panel has an icon that opens the main menu, similar to the start button on the MS Windows desktop. The main menu has a well-ordered structure for accessing the main applications. It also contains menu items for major functions like logging out or searching for applications. See Section 5.3.3, “Accessing the Main Menu”.

Quick Launcher

Next to the main menu icon, find the quick launcher. It holds some icons for the most important functions or applications to enable you to start them without going through the main menu. It also contains an icon for the SUSE Help Center, which provides online help for your system. See Chapter 4, Help and Documentation.

Desktop Previewer

Next to the quick launcher, find the desktop previewer, which shows your different desktops. These virtual desktops enable you to organize your work. If you use many programs simultaneously, you might want to run some programs in one desktop and other programs in the other desktop. To switch between desktops, click the desktop symbol in the panel.


The taskbar is located next to the desktop previewer. By default, all started applications are displayed in the taskbar, which allows you to access any application regardless of the currently active desktop. If you click a window title in the taskbar, the application is moved to the foreground. If it is already in the foreground, clicking minimizes the application.

System Tray

The rightmost part of the panel usually holds the system clock, the volume control, and several other helper applications.

For information about configuring your panel, see Changing Panel Elements.

5.3.1. Managing the Trash Bin

The trash bin is a directory for files marked for deletion. Drag icons from the file manager or the desktop to the trash bin icon by keeping the left mouse button pressed. Then release to drop them there. Alternatively, right-click an icon and select Move to Trash from the menu. Click the trash bin icon to view its contents. You can retrieve an item from the trash if desired.

Files removed with Delete are not moved to the trash bin, but deleted completely. To delete the files in the trash bin completely, right-click the trash bin icon then click Empty Trash Bin.

5.3.2. Accessing CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and Floppy Disks

To access data on removable media, click My Computer on the desktop then click the desired drive.

If you click an icon when a media is available, the file manager starts and displays the contents. Display a menu with various options by right-clicking the individual icons. It is also possible to move a file to a different location, such as to the desktop or your home directory, by simply keeping the left mouse button pressed and dragging the file to the appropriate location. You are asked whether you want to move or copy the file or create a link. You can also copy or move files from your home directory to a floppy disk.

5.3.3. Accessing the Main Menu

Open the main menu by clicking the icon to the far left of the panel. Alternatively, press Alt-F1. The main menu is subdivided into these sections: Most Used Applications, All Applications (a menu with all applications sorted according to categories), and Actions. Applications that you start most often appear in the Most Used Applications section.

If you know the name of an application (or at least a part of its name) but are not sure how to start it from the main menu, you can use the search function provided in the All Applications section.

Figure 5.3. Main Menu Search Function

Main Menu Search Function

Just type a part of the application name into the search field without pressing the Enter key afterwards. If the application is installed on your system, the menu structure leading to this application is highlighted in the main menu.