5. KDE Workspace
The KDE workspace (Plasma Desktop) is one of the first things you'll see when you boot openSUSE for the first time. The desktop workspace consists of the desktop itself, menus, panels, file management and window management.
5.1 The Desktop
The desktop is not very different from other desktop environments you may be familiar with - you have a panel on the bottom, a launch menu which is opened in the lower left corner.
However, a few things differ significantly from most other desktop environments:
- KDE uses single click to open and launch things by default
- The content of the ~/Desktop/ folder is not scattered all over the desktop itself, but is instead organized inside a widget called Folder View
- By default the applications you have running when you shutdown will be started again in the next session
You may want to watch this video on YouTube about the KDE Plasma Desktop:
5.1.1 The Launch Menu (Kickoff)
Kickoff is opened by clicking the chameleon icon in the bottom left corner of the screen. It has five self explanatory tabs and on the top there's a search bar. You can add/remove applications to/from the Favorites
tab by right clicking them.
Kickoff can be completely controlled with the keyboard using Alt+F1
to open it, and arrow keys, Enter and Esc to navigate.
You can edit menu entries or add new ones like this:
Right click the menu icon => Menu Editor
To add a shortcut for an application on the desktop or in the panel you can do this (requires widgets to be unlocked):
Find the application in the menu => Right click the entry => Click "Add to panel" or "Add to desktop"
The KDE Plasma Desktop is centered around widgets and containments. The desktop and the panel are containments in which widgets can be placed. The menu, the system tray, the folderview on the desktop are simply widgets. Lots and lots of other widgets are available.
To manipulate widgets the widgets need to be unlocked.
Right click the desktop => Either "Lock Widgets" or "Unlock Widgets".
It's very useful to keep the widgets locked when you are not configuring your desktop, this way you don't get things popping up when you hover over them and you don't risk accidentally moving or removing widgets.
To add widgets:
Right click the desktop => Add widgets
To add widgets to the panel, drag them from widget browser to the panel.
When your widgets are covered by windows you can view them by pressing Ctrl+F12
to open the widget dashboard.
5.1.3 Virtual Desktops
To avoid your desktop getting cluttered with windows you can use virtual desktops to organize your applications and be more productive. In the panel you'll find a small grid, this is the desktop pager, use it to switch between your virtual desktops.
You can also use the desktop grid effect to get a big overview of your virtual desktops, try pressing Ctrl+F8
(requires desktop effects support, see the paragraph on this topic below).
Next to the virtual desktop pager is a cube with three little circles, clicking here opens the Activity Manager. Activities are different desktops which can be configured for specific tasks/activities with different widgets, different wallpapers and automatically starting certain applications.
This enables you to quickly and easily switch between desktops (activities) configured for different situations, for example you might set up one activity for when you're at work, a different one for when you're at home, a third one for when you're doing photo editing and a fourth one for when you're doing public presentations and so forth, and you can switch between these completely different desktops with just a click or two. The toolbox in the top right corner of the screen displays the name of the currently used activity.
The Activity Manager lets you create activities and switch between them. Additionally you can perform various tasks by clicking the little overlay icons on each activity to start or stop the activities, delete them or configure them.
5.2 File Management
The default file manager is Dolphin, open it by clicking the little file cabinet icon in the panel. It should be very intuitive. USB sticks and other removable media will automatically appear in the left pane of Dolphin.
5.3 Personal Settings / Configure Desktop (aka. "systemsettings")
The global KDE settings are gathered conveniently in one place - Personal Settings / Configure Desktop
in the menu. Here you can configure almost anything related to the KDE workspace including mouse behaviour, default applications, file associations etc.
||Don't confuse the KDE control center used for personal configuration of the KDE Workspace and KDE applications with the YaST control center used for administrator settings on a deeper level of the system (See later chapter about YaST).
5.4 System Activity / Task List
Naturally KDE also has a tool to watch running processes and usage of system ressources. Simply press Ctrl+Esc
to bring up the system activity window.
For an advanced and customizable system monitor, including network graphs etc. run the program ksysguard
5.5 Desktop Effects
The KDE window manager has built-in support for 3D desktop effects. A basic, unobtrusive selection of effects will be enabled out of the box if you have the proper hardware and driver support in place. Try pressing Ctrl+F8
To disable effects or to enable other/more effects:
Configure Desktop => Desktop Effects
The keyboard shortcut to temporarily toggle desktop effects on/off is Alt+Shift+F12
5.6 KDE Plasma Netbook
KDE provides a special netbook workspace which is optimized for low resolution monitors and the netbook usecase.
To switch between Desktop and Netbook mode use.
Configure Desktop => Workspace Behaviour => Workspace
The netbook shell behaves quite differently from the conventional desktop. Here are some examples:
- The Search and Launch area is used for launching apps. Add apps to the favourite section by clicking on the asterisk that appears when you hover over icons
- The Page section is where you have your widgets
- When windows are maximized the titlebar will be hidden to save space
- The top panel will autohide when a window is open, push the mouse cursor against the top of the screen to make the panel reappear
- Switch between open windows by using the rightmost part of the top panel or use the Alt+Tab shortcut
- To log out/restart/shutdown right click on the desktop background => Leave or press Ctrl+Alt+Del
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