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A Tour of the Fedora LXDE Desktop

The Fedora LXDE Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Fedora LXDE Spin is a fork of the standard Fedora distribution which features an LXDE based GUI/desktop instead of the default Gnome one. The Fedora aim is is to provide a Fedora O/S that is lighter on resources and more suited to older/low specification hardware.

Fedora LXDE Spin is a fork of the standard Fedora distribution which features an LXDE based GUI/desktop instead of the default Gnome one

One thing you notice with Fedora - at least when running in live CD mode from a USB Stick - is that the speed to boot is about the same as the Gnome version - and much longer than the comparable version of Ubuntu. The response time to commands is good compared to the Gnome distribution and - personally speaking - the look is crisper and more pleasing than Lubuntu 12.04.

Note: the screenshots in this chapter were taken from the Fedora LXDE16 release


Default Applications

The applications that come pre-installed with Fedora naturally reflect the low-resource ethos of the distro; there is still the usual spread of applications - it's just that they have been chosen for their low-resource usage and integration with the LXDE libraries. Here is a taster of some of the applications that Fedora 16 LXDE is currently shipping with:

..Fedora naturally reflect the low-resource ethos of the distro; there is still the usual spread of applications - it's just that they have been chosen for their low-resource usage..

ApplicationPackage Used
Word Processor AbiWord
Image EditormtPaint
SpreadsheetsGnumeric
Email ClientSylpheed
Media PlayersGXine,Music Player
Video EditorN/A
Internet BrowserFirefox
ChatPidgin
CD/DVD WriterAsunder
Web SupportN/A
Package ManagerYum Extender

In addition, it comes with all the system tools you would expect - as well as the ability to customize the look and feel should you so desire.

Note that even if an application is not in the default installation, it can be easily downloaded using the Yum Extender within minutes.

In summary, Fedora is aimed at Red Hat users with older or low specification hardware unable to run the standard distribution. If you are an Fedora fan but find that Gnome or KDE run too slowly, then Fedora LXDE is for you!


The Fedora Desktop

Fedora uses the LXDE desktop - which is light on scare resources but delivers a perfectly usable desktop: it perhaps lacks the glitz/slickness and polish of the Gnome version - but that is, after all, just eye-candy!

When you boot Fedora LXDE, the desktop will display:

The Fedora LXDE Desktop

As can be seen, the default desktop is a fairly spartan one - with a single icon shortcut in the top left (-to install the O/S) and the LXDE Panel along the bottom of the screen. The desktop background can be customized as desired, using the "Desktop Preferences" option in the Context Menu.

Open windows and applications display in the main desktop area.

Fedora allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, by simply click-dragging the desired file to the desktop from the File Manager window then releasing the mouse button. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.


The LXDE Panel

The bulk of your desktop interaction with Fedora will be through the LXDE Panel at the bottom of the desktop:

The Fedora LXDE Panel

This can be divided into four main parts:

  • Icon for the Fedora Main MenuClicking on the Fedora logo in the bottom left hand corner of the screen displays the Main Menu, which allows the user access to all the Fedora functions

  • Next, is a series of shortcuts:
    IconUsage
    Fedora File Manager IconThe next icon is the File Manager icon. Click this and a PCManFM window will display
    Fedora Browser IconThe next icon is the Internet Browser icon. Click this and (by default) a Firefox browser window will display
    Fedora Show Desktop IconThe icon immediately to the right of the browser icon minimizes all open windows to reveal the desktop: this can be useful if, for example, you need to access an icon on the desktop that is obscured by an open window
    LXDE Workspace Switcher IconThe two icons immediately to the right of the iconify icon are the Workspace Switcher icon(s). Click one of these two rectangular icons to switch between the available workspaces
  • In the middle part of the panel, the thumbnails of all open applications are listed: click on these to jump directly to that window -or to restore it to it's former size if it was previously minimized (iconified)

    Fedora Application Minimized

  • On the right hand side of the panel is the system tray: this allows you to interact with any system program and processes (daemons) running in the background. What appears here depends on what you are doing and what it running on your system but, by default, the icons are as follows:

    IconUsage
    Fedora Alert IconThe icon immediately to the right of the task manager area is just a graph of the system load (-it is not clickable)
    Fedora Cut and Paste Icon

    The next icon is the cut and paste icon, which allows you you edit and clear the paste buffer:

    The Cut and Paste Menu

    Fedora Network Icon

    Clicking on the network icon allows you to check and configure your network settings:

    The Fedora Calendar

    Fedora Volume Icon

    The volume icon allows you to adjust the system volume:

    The Fedora Calendar

    Fedora Calendar Icon

    The next icon is a display of the current system time. If you click this, a display of the current month pops up. Unlike the standard Fedora, clicking on the dates in this does not access the calendar application (Osmo):

    The Fedora Calendar

    Fedora Lock Screen IconClicking this icon locks the screen - although it does not seem to work in live CD mode
    Fedora Shutdown IconClicking this icon brings up the Shutdown menu

The Main Menu

  • The Main Menu allows users to access to all the Fedora functions. This can be likened to the "Start" menu in Windows:

    Icon for the Fedora Main Menu

    From here you can access functions such as:

    Menu OptionUsage
    AccessoriesVarious small tools for making the most of your system
    GraphicsLists programs for dealing with images
    InternetList programs for accessing the internet and the network
    OfficeList any applications commonly used for business purposes, usch as word processing and spreadsheets
    OtherList the release notes for Fedora
    Sound & VideoList any applications for audio / video viewing
    System ToolsClick this icon to access various Linux system tools
    PreferencesUtilities for changing the setup / appearance of the desktop
    AdministrationClick this icon to access various system administration tools
    RunRun a script or application without dropping to the Command Line
    LogoutOptions to close the current session, power off, restart, etc

Note: most options will themselves have sub-menus off them


The PCManFM File Manager

Fedora uses the PCManFM File Manager, which is the LXDE standard. This works very much like that of it's Gnome counterpart with only superficial differences (-mainly the general LXDE look and feel).

The File Manager can be accessed directly from the icon in the LXDE Panel - or via the "Accessories" option on the Main Menu. Both will open up a window to your user home directory, similar to that below:

Fedora Thunar File Manager

Left-click any item to select it -or double-click a directory to navigate down into it. Double-click a file to either open it or run it (-depending on whether it is executable or not). Right click a file to access the context menu - which allows you to rename, delete, copy the file, etc.


The Context Menu

If you right-click on any blank area of the desktop, the Context Menu will display:

This allows you access to some basic options, such as to create a new file or customize the desktop (e.g. to alter the fonts used and set background wallpaper).


The Firefox Browser

If you select the "Firefox" option in the "Internet" category of the Main Menu then a window to the Firefox internet browser will open up:

Fedora Chromium Browser


The Fedora Workspace Switcher

Workspaces in Fedora operate in a similar way to their Gnome equivalents. If you click on one of the Workspace icons in the LXDE Panel, the desktop view will flip to show all windows currently open in that workspace:

Fedora Workspace Switched

This allows you to neatly partition your desktop so that it does not get too cluttered - for example, by allowing you to keep personal and work applications in different workspaces.


Exiting Fedora

When you have finished with Fedora, select the "Logout" option in the Main Menu or click on the "Shutdown" icon in the LXDE Panel. A dialogue box will display from which you can select from a number of options:

Fedora Confirm Shutdown

Where:

  • Shutdown : power down the PC, losing everything in memory
  • Reboot : power the PC down, then back up
  • Suspend : save the current state in RAM and go into power-save mode
  • Hibernate : save the current state to disc and power down
  • Logout : log out of the current user session
  • Cancel : quit the shutdown menu

Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out. If you decide you wish to continue with the current session, simply select the "Cancel" option.


References and Further Reading:


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