Chapter 2. Overview of the GNOME Desktop

Panels

You can add or delete panels at any time. When you start a session for the first time, the GNOME Desktop contains at least one panel.

You can perform the following actions with panels:

  • Create panels.

  • Delete panels.

  • Hide panels.

  • Add objects to panels.

  • Manipulate panel objects.

To Create Panels

To add a panel, right-click on a vacant space on any panel, then choose New Panel. The new panel is added to the GNOME Desktop. The new panel contains no objects. You can customize the new panel to suit your preferences. You can add objects to the panel to fit your own requirements. You can also change the background of the panel. You can create as many panels as you want.

To Delete Panels

To delete a panel, right-click on the panel then choose Delete This Panel.

To Hide Panels

Panels can have hide buttons at each end of the panel. You click on the hide buttons to hide or show the panel.

To Add Objects to Panels

A panel can hold several types of objects. The panel in Figure 2.1, “A Panel With Various Panel Objects” contains each type of panel object.

Figure 2.1. A Panel With Various Panel Objects

A panel with various panel objects. Callouts: Calculator launcher, Menu, CD Player applet, Drawer, Lock button.

You can add any of the following objects to all types of panels:

Applets

Applets are small, interactive applications that reside within a panel, for example CD Player in Figure 2.1, “A Panel With Various Panel Objects”. Each applet has a simple user interface that you can operate with the mouse or keyboard. The following applets appear in your panels by default:

  • Menu Bar: Provides access to the Applications menu and the Actions menu. You can use the menus to access your applications, preference tools, and other tasks.

  • Clock: Displays the time. You can also configure Clock to display the date.

  • Window Selector: Lists all your open windows. To give focus to a window, click on the window selector icon at the extreme right of the top edge panel, then choose the window.

  • Window List: Displays a button for each window that is open. You can click on a window list button to minimize and restore windows. By default, Window List appears in the edge panel at the bottom of the screen.

  • Workspace Switcher: Displays a visual representation of your workspaces. You can use Workspace Switcher to switch between workspaces. By default, Workspace Switcher appears in the edge panel at the bottom of the screen.

To add an applet to a panel, right-click on a vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel. Choose the applet from the Add to the panel dialog.

Launchers

A launcher starts a particular application, executes a command, or opens a file. The calculator icon in Figure 2.1, “A Panel With Various Panel Objects” is a launcher for the Calculator application. A launcher can reside in a panel or in a menu. Click on the launcher to perform the action that is associated with the launcher.

You can create your own launchers for applications. For example, you can create a launcher for a word processor application that you use frequently, and place the launcher in a panel for convenient access. To add a new launcher to a panel, right-click on a vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel->Launcher.

Alternatively, to add a launcher from a menu, right-click on a vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel. Select Application Launcher in the Add to the panel dialog and click Forward. On the following screen, select the application launcher to add and click Add.

Action buttons

You can add buttons to your panels to provide quick access to common actions. You can add the following buttons to your panels:

  • Force Quit: Use this button to terminate applications that do not respond to your commands.

  • Lock: Click on this button to lock your screen. The lock icon in Figure 2.1, “A Panel With Various Panel Objects” is the Lock button.

  • Log Out: Click on this button to end your session

  • Run: Click on this button to open the Run Application dialog, from which you can run commands.

  • Screenshot: Click on this button to take a screenshot of the screen.

  • Search: Click on this button to start the Search Tool application, from which you can search for files.

  • Show Desktop: Click on this button to minimize all windows and show the desktop.

Menus

You can access all GNOME Desktop functions through menus. To open a menu from a panel, click on the icon that represents the menu. To open a menu from the Menu Bar, click on the text that represents the menu.

Menus that you add to your panels are represented by an icon with an arrow. The arrow indicates that the icon represents a menu. For example, see the menu icon in Figure 2.1, “A Panel With Various Panel Objects”.

You can add the Main Menu to any of your panels. To add the Main Menu to a panel, right-click on a vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel. In the Add to the panel dialog, select Main Menu and click Add.

You can also add the Menu Bar to any of your panels. To add the Menu Bar to a panel, right-click on a vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel. In the Add to the panel dialog, select Menu Bar and click Add.

Drawers

Drawers are sliding extensions to a panel that you can open or close from a drawer icon, as shown in Figure 2.1, “A Panel With Various Panel Objects”. Drawers can help you to organize your work when you run a lot of applications simultaneously. You can place all the same functional elements in a drawer that you can put in any other type of panel.

To add a drawer to a panel, right-click on a vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel. In the Add to the panel dialog, select Drawer and click Add.

To open a drawer click on the drawer. To close a drawer click on the drawer again.

To Manipulate Panel Objects

You can manipulate panel objects in the following ways:

  • Move objects within a panel, or to another panel.

    You can move any object to another location in the panel. You can also move an object from one panel to another panel. Use the middle mouse button to drag the panel object to the new location.

  • Copy menu items to a panel.

    Drag the item from the menu to the panel. Alternatively, if the menu item is a launcher right-click on the menu item, then choose Add this launcher to panel.