A Tour of the Linux Mint KDE Desktop
The default desktop for the Mint distro is Gnome but there is a version which comes bundled instead with the powerful KDE desktop. This is a project which takes the standard Mint distro and adapts it to KDE - both the desktop and the applications installed as standard. It is available for free download at http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php.
The Mint implementation of KDE Plasma is almost indistinguishable from that of Fedora 16 KDE Spin and Ubuntu 12.04 - with just a slight difference in branding.
The default desktop for Mint [..] is Gnome but there is a version [..] which comes bundled instead with the powerful KDE desktop
Like it's Gnome sibling, Mint KDE ships with a wealth of applications - meaning that it is usable right out of the box. This does mean, however, that the install image is large and requires a minimum of 512Mb of RAM - plus a massive 5Gb of disc space - in order to run.
As a taster, the table below shows some the applications that currently ship with Mint 12, which are somewhat different from those supplied in the standard Gnome Mint distro:
|Word Processor ||LibreOffice Writer|
|Media Players||Gnome Mplayer,VLC,Amarok|
|Web Support||Flash Support,PDF Viewer|
In addition, it comes with all the system tools you would expect - as well as the ability to fully 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 Apper Package Manager within minutes.
In summary, Mint KDE is a great option for new users who dislike the Gnome 3.x interface or require greater desktop configurability.
Note: the screenshots in this section were taken from Mint 12 (-running from a live CD) which was the latest version at the time of writing. This version uses the KDE Plasma desktop.
When you boot Mint KDE, the desktop will display:
The default desktop is a fairly spartan one - with a single icon (to install to a hard drive), the KDE panel and the Desktop Cashew in the top right corner.
Open windows and applications display in the main desktop area. The desktop background can be customized as desired, using the Desktop Cashew menu.
The Mint desktop allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop by simply dragging the desired file/folder to the Desktop area and releasing the mouse button. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.
The bulk of your desktop interaction with Mint will be through the KDE panel at the bottom of the desktop:
This can be divided into four main parts:
The Main Menu allows users to access to all the Mint functions. This can be likened to the "Start" menu in Windows:
Along the bottom of the pop-up, you will see a row of icons for the following options:
|Add your favourite applications into this area, so you can find them quickly|
|Access to all the installed applications and utilities|
|Access to devices and System Administration Utilities|
|Quick access to Applications and Utilities that have been recently used: useful if you need to restart an application you recently closed|
|Allows you to exit Mint|
The Application option itself will display a series of nested menus containing all the installed applications:
|Graphics||Utilities to view and alter images|
|Internet||Applications to access and get the most from the Internet and communications|
|Multimedia||Utilities to manipulate audio and video|
|Office||Applications for the home office, such as Word Processing, Spreadsheet, etc|
|Settings||Access to various settings (-empty by default)|
|System||Linux System Utilities|
|Utilities||A fairly broad category, listing useful utilities|
|Help||Starts the KDE Help Center tool (-manuals and searchable documentation)|
Like other KDE-based distros, Mint uses the Dolphin File Manager - and this works very much like that of it's Gnome counterpart with only superficial differences (-mainly the general KDE look and feel).
The File Manager can be accessed from the Main Menu - or via the Search and Launch section of the Activity Manager. Both with open up a window to your user home directory, similar to that below:
Left-click any item to select it or right-click it to display a list of actions you can perform on the file.
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). Generally, executables are shown as a cog icon.
If you right-click on any blank area of the Mint Desktop, the Context Menu will display:
From here, you can configure the desktop, run a script or command, access the Activity Manager, configure the desktop, exit Mint, etc.
If you click on the icon in the top right corner () (-aka the desktop cashew) a menu will pop up:
This allows you to configure the desktop. Note that, to avoid accidental changes, you need to first unlock the widgets. Once your changes are completed, lock the widgets again.
If you click on the the "Activities.." option in either the Desktop Cashew or the Context Menu, then the Activity Manager window will open up on top of the KDE Panel:
This allows you to to change your desktop view to suit how you want to interact with the system. By default, it consists of four icons:
The Desktop View icon switches to the default desktop view
The Search and Launch icon allows you to swap to something similar to the Gnome 3.x Activities Area, allowing you to quickly locate desired applications:
The Photos Activity icon allows photographers to swap to a view which allows them to quickly locate and view shots:
The Desktop icons icon displays a view which allows you to configure your desktop icons:
Whichever view you enable will stay active until you change to another.
Note: you can define your own activities to list using the "Create Activity" and "Add Widgets" buttons!
In the default Desktop View, if you click on the ESC (Escape) key, yet another menu will be overlaid on the desktop:
This gives you quick access to a number of options by clicking on the following icons:
- Type any string in the search box and hit the ENTER key to locate matching applications
- : configure plugins and the GUI settings for the menu
- : start the System Monitor (-akin to the Windows Task Manager)
- : access the Help Library
- : exit this menu
When you have finished with Mint, select the "Leave" option in the Main Menu or Context Menu:
From here, you can select from a number of options:
- Log Out : log out of the current user session
- Lock : lock the terminal (e.g. while you are away from the PC)
- Switch User : log in as a different user whilst retaining the current user session
- Sleep : save the current state in RAM and go into power-save mode
- Hibernate : save the current state to disc and power down
- Restart : reboot the PC
- Shut Down : power down the PC, losing everything in memory
Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out. If you decide you wish to continue with the current session, simply click away from the menu on the desktop.
If you choose to shutdown the PC, you will be asked to confirm your choice, prior to carrying out the action:
The computer will restart in 30 seconds by default: if you click "Cancel", you will be returned to the current session; if you click "Turn Off Computer" it will shut down immediately.