Chapter 2. Overview of the GNOME Desktop


The applications that are provided with the GNOME Desktop share several characteristics. For example, the applications have a consistent look-and-feel. The applications share characteristics because the applications use the same programming libraries. An application that uses the standard GNOME programming libraries is called a GNOME-compliant application. For example, Nautilus and the gedit text editor are GNOME-compliant applications.

GNOME provides libraries in addition to the libraries provided by your operating system. The libraries enable GNOME to run your existing applications as well as GNOME-compliant applications. For example, if your operating system is UNIX-based, you can run your current X11 applications and Motif applications from the GNOME Desktop.

Some of the features of GNOME-compliant applications are as follows:

  • Consistent look-and-feel

    GNOME-compliant applications have a consistent look-and-feel. GNOME-compliant applications use the look-and-feel settings that you specify in the preference tools. You can use the following tools to change the look-and-feel of your GNOME-compliant applications:

    • Menus & Toolbars preference tool

    • Theme preference tool

  • Menubars, toolbars, and statusbars

    Most GNOME-compliant applications have a menubar, a toolbar, and a statusbar. The menubar always contains a File menu and a Help menu. The File menu always contains an Quit menu item, and the Help menu always contains an About menu item.

    A toolbar is a bar that appears under the menubar. A toolbar contains buttons for the most commonly-used commands. A statusbar is a bar at the bottom of a window that provides information about the current state of what you are viewing in the window. GNOME-compliant applications might also contains other bars. For example, Nautilus contains a location bar.

    Some of the bars in GNOME-compliant applications are detachable. That is, the bar has a handle that you can grab then drag the bar to another location. You can drag the bar to snap to another side of the window, or to another part of the screen. For example, you can detach the menubar, toolbar, and location bar in the file manager.

  • Default shortcut keys

    GNOME-compliant applications use the same shortcut keys to perform the same actions. For example, to quit a GNOME-compliant application, press Ctrl-Q. To undo an action in a GNOME-compliant application, press Ctrl-Z.

  • Drag-and-drop

    GNOME-compliant applications use the same protocol to implement drag-and-drop operations. Therefore, GNOME-compliant applications provide consistent feedback when you drag-and-drop items.

    The use of the same protocol also enables GNOME-compliant applications to interoperate in a sophisticated manner. For example, GNOME-compliant applications recognize the format of the items that you drag. When you drag a HTML file from a Nautilus window to a web browser, the file is displayed in HTML format in the browser. However, when you drag the HTML file to a text editor, the file is displayed in plain text format in the text editor.