Enhance your Fedora Desktop with gDesklets

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If you've spent any time with Windows Vista you may have seen the small applets that run on the desktop, things such as a clock and a weather widget. It will probably come as no surprise to you that Linux had a feature like this long before Windows Vista came along. On the Fedora GNOME desktop this functionality is provided by technology called gDesklets. The creators of the gDesklets technology call it Eye candy for the desktop, and once you've had a change to see it in action you will understand why.




Installing gDesklets

The gDesklets packages are not installed by default with Fedora Linux. To use them, therefore, they must first be installed. To do so, begin by selecting Add/Remove Software from the System->Administration menu. In the resulting window use the Find text box search for gDesklets. Results similar to those shown below should be displayed:


Installing gDesklets on Fedora


Select each of the packages in the list and click on Apply to initiate the installation. Click Continue in both the confirmation and dependencies dialogs. The packages will then be downloaded and installed.

Launching gDesklets

Once the gDesklet packages are installed, invoke the configuration tool from the Applications->Accessories->gDesklets. The gDesklets Shell dialog will appear with a list of categories of desklets currently installed and available for use. Browse through the options and select a gDesklet to run (the GoodWeather desklet is my favorite). With the desklet selected, select File->Run Selected Desklet. The desklet will start up and appear on the desktop. Move the desklet to the desired location and click with the left hand mouse button.


Moving a Desklet

Once you have positioned a desklet it can be moved to a new location either by clicking the middle mouse button and dragging the desklet, or by clicking on it with the right hand mouse button and selecting Move Desklet. Move the mouse around until the desklet is in the desired position and click to set the location.

Raising Desklets to the Front of the Desktop

At any one time it is likely your desktop will contains all kinds of windows and dialogs. This means that most of the time any desklets you have installed and running will be obscured by your other windows. Recent versions of gDesklet have implemented a feature which allows any desklets to be brought in front of any windows on the desktop. By default this is triggered by pressing the Shift and F12 keys simultaneously. To send the desklets back to the back of any windows simply press Shift+F12 a second time.

Setting the Properties of a Desklet

Most desklets can be configured. For example the GoodWeather desklet allows the location for which the weather is being reported to be changed. To access a desklet's configuration page, click with the right mouse button and select the Configure desklet option. The following figure shows the GoodWeather properties dialog:


Desklet Properties


Install New gDesklet Packages

By default Fedora does not install all the currently available desklets. A more complete list of available desklets can be found at [http://www.gdesklets.de/index.php?q=desklet/browse/alphabetical/].

Any of these desklets can be downloaded for free and added to your desktop. To do so simply download your chosen desklets and start the gDesklet shell (Applications->Accessories->gDesklets). If you have saved the package file to your desktop, simply click and drag the package icon into the gDesklet Shell to install it. Alternatively, in the gDesklet Shell, select File->Install Package and in the file selection dialog navigate to the downloaded package, select it and click on the Open button. A dialog will appear informing you that the package has been installed. Browse the desklets in the gDesklet Shell window until you find the new desklet. Select it and launch it from the File menu.

The following figure shows a Fedora Desktop with the GoodWeather, clock and calendar desklets installed:


Fedora Desktop with gDesklets installed and running

Purchase and download the fully updated Fedora 13 PDF and ePub versions of this eBook for only $9.99
PDF/ePub editions contain 40 chapters and over 255 pages.

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Configuring the Fedora Desktop Menu SystemBrowsing My Computer, Files and Folders on the Fedora Desktop