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Usage Basics: Login, Desktop, and Help Fedora 18 Part-1

Updated on July 20, 2014

User Accounts

User access to the system is provided through accounts. To gain access to the system, you need to have a user account
set up for you. A system administrator creates the account, assigning a username and password for it. You then use your
account to log in and use the system. You can create other new user accounts using special system administration tools
like system-config-users or System Settings user accounts. You can access these tools from any user account provided
you supply the administrative password. When you installed your system, you had to provide a root user password. This
is the administrative password required to access any administrative tool like the one for managing user accounts.

GRUB Start Menu and Boot Problems

When you boot up, the GRUB screen is displayed for a few seconds before the boot procedure begins. Should you
want to start a different operating system or add options to your startup, you need to display the GRUB startup menu
(see Figure 1). Do this by pressing any key on your keyboard. The GRUB menu will be displayed and will list Linux
and other operating systems you specified, such as Windows. Your Linux system should be selected by default. If not,
use the arrow keys to move to the Linux entry, if it is not already highlighted, and press Enter.

The Advanced Options for Fedora option opens another screen listing previously installed Fedora kernels. If you
are having difficulty with your current kernel, you can use this screen to start up an older kernel.
To change a particular line, use the up/down arrow keys to move to the line. You can use the left/right arrow keys
to move along the line. The Backspace key will delete characters and simply typing will insert characters. The editing
changes are temporary. Permanent changes can be made only by directly editing the GRUB configuration files. Fedora
18 uses GRUB2, which uses the configuration file /etc/default/grub. GRUB2 files are kept in the /etc/grub.d
directory. Run as root the following grub2-mkconfig to apply changes made in /etc/default/grub.


grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

See the GRUB2 page for more information.

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/GRUB_2

When your Fedora operating system starts up, a Fedora logo appears during the startup. You can press the ESC
key to see the startup messages instead. Fedora uses Plymouth with its kernel-mode setting ability to display a startup
animation. The Plymouth Fedora logo theme is installed by default.
For graphical installations, some displays may have difficulty running the graphical startup display known as the
Plymouth boot tool. This tool replaces the Red Hat Graphical Boot tool, but still uses the command rhgb. If you have
this problem, you can edit your Linux GRUB entry and remove the rhgb term from the Linux line. Press the e key to
edit a Grub Linux entry (see Figure 2). Then move the cursor to the linux line and perform your edit (see Figure 3).
Use the Backspace key to delete. The press the Ctrl-x or the F10 key to boot the edited GRUB entry.

Your system will start up initially using the text display for all the startup tasks, then shift to the graphical login.
Should you have difficulty displaying your graphical interface, you can instead choose to boot up the
command-line interface. From the command-line interface, you can make any needed configuration changes. To boot
to the command-line interface from GRUB, edit the linux line of the Linux GRUB entries, and add a 3 to the end of the
line. The three indicates runlevel 3, which is the command-line interface (the graphical interface is runlevel 5, the default).

The Display Manager: GDM

The graphical login interface displays a login window with a box listing a menu of usernames. When you click a
username, a login box replaces the listing of users, displaying the selected username and a textbox where you then
enter your password. Upon clicking the Sign In button or pressing Enter, you log in to the selected account and your
desktop starts up.
Graphical logins are handled by the GNOME Display Manager (GDM). The GDM manages the login interface
along with authenticating a user password and username, and then starting up a selected desktop. From the GDM,
you can shift to the command-line interface with the Ctrl-Alt-F2 key, and then shift back to the GDM with the
Ctrl-Alt-F21 key (from a desktop you would use the same keys to shift to a command-line interface and to shift back).
The keys F2 through F6 provide different command-line terminals, as in Ctrl-Alt-F3 for the third command-line terminal.
When the GDM starts up, it shows a listing of users (see Figure 4). A Power icon menu at the top right of the
screen shows the entries—Suspend, Restart, and Power Off. The date is displayed at the top center of the screen.
Moving the mouse over the date displays a calendar. Next to the Power icon are menus for accessibility, sound, and
battery usages. Moving the mouse over the battery icon displays the laptop and mouse power reserves. The Sound
icon displays a volume adjustor. The Accessibility icon displays a menu of switches that let you turn on accessibility
tools and features such as the onscreen keyboard, enhanced contrast, and the screen magnifier.

Should you have more than one desktop installed such as both GNOME and KDE, when you click a username
to log in as, a Session entry is displayed below the Password textbox. Click on that entry to open a menu listing the
installed desktops, then click on the one you want to use (see Figure 5).

To shut down your Fedora system, select the Power Off entry in the Power icon menu. To restart, choose the
Restart entry.
To log in, click a username from the listing of users. You are then prompted to enter the user’s password (see
Figure 4). A new dialog replaces the user list showing the username you selected and a Password textbox where you
can enter the user’s password. Once you enter the password, click the Sign In button or press Enter. By default,
the GNOME desktop starts up.

The User Menu

Once you’re logged in, your username is displayed on the right side of the top bar (see Figure 6). Clicking your
username displays a menu with entries for user preferences (accounts—the user icon, chat availability, notification,
and system settings), the logout, lock, and power off actions, and Switch User, which you use to switch to another
user. For chat availability you can specify Available, Busy, or Unavailable. Lock Screen locks your screen, displaying
a lock screen prompt. The Log Out entry returns you to the GDM login screen. Clicking on the user icon opens the
User Accounts dialog, which you can unlock to manage all user accounts on the system. The Notifications switch
lets you turn notices on and off. System Settings opens the GNOME 3 System Settings dialog, which lists GNOME 3
configuration tools such as power management, keyboard, and display. If you have updates pending, there will also be
an entry to install those updates and restart.

The Switch User entry switches out from the current user and runs the GDM to display a list of users you can log
in as. Click on the name to open a password prompt and display the session menu. You can then log in as that user.
The sessions of users already logged on will continue, with the same open windows and applications running when
the user switched off. You can switch back and forth between logged-in users, with all users retaining their session
where they left off. When you switch off from a user, that user’s running programs will continue in the background.

Important Laptop Features

To work on a laptop, you need two important operations: power management and support for multiple network
connections, including wireless and LAN. Both are configured automatically.
For power management, Fedora uses System Settings Power. On a laptop, the battery icon displayed on the
panel will show how much power you have left, as well as when the battery become critical. It will also indicate an
AC connection, as well as when the battery is recharging.

For network connections, Fedora uses Network Manager. Network Manager will detect available network
connections automatically (see “Network Manager Wireless Connections” later in this chapter). Click on the Network
Manager icon in the top bar, to the right. This displays a popup menu showing all possible wireless networks,
as well as any wired networks. You can then choose the one you want to use. The name and strength of each wireless
connection will be listed. When you try to connect to an encrypted wireless network, you will be prompted for the
security method and the password. Wireless networks that you successfully connect to will be added to your Network
Manager configuration.

Desktops

Several alternative desktop interfaces, such as GNOME and the K Desktop (KDE), can be installed on Fedora.
Each has its own style and appearance. It is important to keep in mind that, although the GNOME and KDE interfaces
appear similar, they are really two very different desktop interfaces with separate tools for selecting preferences.

KDE

The K Desktop Environment (KDE) displays a panel at the bottom of the screen that looks similar to one displayed on
the top of the GNOME desktop. The file manager appears different but operates much the same way as the GNOME
file manager. There is a System Settings entry in the main menu that opens the KDE System Settings window, from
which you can configure every aspect of the KDE environment, such as desktop effects, workspace appearance,
devices such as monitors and printers, and networking.

Xfce and LXDE

The Xfce and LXDE desktops are lightweight desktop designed to run fast without the kind of overhead seen in
full-featured desktops like KDE and GNOME. They use their own file manager and panel, but the emphasis is on
modularity and simplicity. The desktop consists of a collection of modules, including the file manager, the panel,
and the window manager. In keeping with its focus on simplicity, its small scale makes it appropriate for laptops or
dedicated systems that have no need for the complex overhead found in other desktops.

Cinnamon and Mate

The Cinnamon and Mate desktops are designed to make use of more traditional desktop features such as a main
menu, panels, and applets. Mate has a traditional GNOME 2 design with a top and bottom panel. Cinnamon is based
on GNOME 3 and has workspace and windows overviews. It uses a bottom panel with a main menu and applets
you can add. Cinnamon is designed and maintained by Mint Linux, but is becoming popular on other distributions,
including Fedora.

GNOME

The GNOME desktop provides easy-to-use overviews and menus, along with a flexible file manager and desktop.
GNOME 3 is based on the gnome-shell, which is a compositing window manager. It replaces the GNOME 2 metacity
window manager, gnome-panel, and a notification daemon.
The screen displays a top bar, through which you access your applications, windows, and system properties
such as sound and networking. Clicking on the username at the right of the top bar displays a menu with options
to log out, switch users, activate notifications, and set your online status. There is also an entry to access system
settings (see Figure 7).

To access applications and windows, use the Activities Overview mode. Click on the Activities button at the left
side of the top bar (or move the mouse to the left corner, or press the Windows button). The Overview mode consists
of a dash listing your favorite and running applications, workspaces, and windows (see Figure 8). Large thumbnails
of open windows are displayed on the windows overview (the desktop area). You can use the Search box at the top to
locate an application quickly. Partially hidden thumbnails of your desktop workspaces are displayed on the right side.
Initially there are two. Moving your mouse to the right side displays the workspace thumbnails.

You can manually leave the Overview at any time by press the ESC key, or by clicking on a window thumbnail.
The dash is a bar on the left side with icons for your favorite applications. Initially there are icons for the Firefox
web browser, mail (Thunderbird), sound (Rhythmbox), images (Shotwell), and files (the GNOME file manager).
See Figure 8. The last icon opens an applications overview that you can use to start other applications. To open an
application from the dash, click on its icon, or right-click and choose New Window from the popup menu. You can
also click and drag the icon to the windows overview or to a workspace thumbnail on the right side.
You can access windows from the windows overview, which is displayed initially when you start Activities.
The windows overview displays thumbnails of all your open windows. When you pass your mouse over a window
thumbnail, a close box appears on the upper-right corner, with which you can close the window. You can also move
the window on the desktop and to another workspace.
To move a window on the desktop, click and drag its title bar. To maximize a window, double-click its title bar or
drag it to the top bar. To minimize, double-click the title bar again or drag it away from the top bar. To close a window,
click its close box (upper left).

GNOME File Manager

You can access your home folder from the Files icon on the dash. A file manager window opens showing your home
folder (see Figure 9). Your home folder will already have default directories created for commonly used files. These
include Pictures, Documents, Music, Videos, and Downloads. Your office applications will automatically save files
to the Documents folder by default. Image and photo applications place image files in the Pictures directory. The
Desktop folder will hold all files and directories saved to your desktop. When you download a file, it is placed in the
Downloads directory.

The file manager window displays several components, including a title bar, toolbar, and a sidebar. When you
open a new directory, the same window is used to display it, and you can use the forward and back arrows to move
through previously opened directories. The toolbar displays folder buttons showing your current folder and its parent
folders. You can click on a parent folder to move to it. The GNOME file manager also supports tabs. You can open
several folders in the same file manager window.

Logging Out and Shutting Down from GNOME

If you want to exit your desktop and return to the GDM login screen, or switch to a different user, you can choose the
Log Out entry from the User menu (see Figure 6). This displays a dialog that shows buttons for Cancel and Log Out
(see Figure 10). Click Log Out to log out of your account, exiting GNOME and returning to the login screen where
you can log in again as a different user, or shut down the system. A countdown will commence in the dialog, showing
how much time you have left before it performs the logout automatically. From the login screen you can shut down
the system; choose Power Off from the Power menu(see Figure 3).

Network Connections

Network connections will be set up for you by Network Manager, which will detect your network connections
automatically, both wired and wireless. Network Manager provides status information for your connection and allows
you to switch easily from one configured connection to another, as needed. For initial configuration, it detects as
much information as possible about the new connection.
Network Manager is user specific. Wired connections will be started automatically. For wireless connections,
when a user logs in, Network Manager selects the connection preferred by that user. The user can choose the wireless
connection to use from a menu of detected wireless networks.
Network Manager displays a Network icon to the right, on the top bar. The Network Manager icon will vary
according to the type of connection and your connection status. An Ethernet (wired) connection displays a monitor.
A wireless connection displays a staggered wave graph (see Figure 11). If no connection is active (wireless or wired),
an icon with the monitor and a red mark is displayed. When Network Manager makes a wired or wireless connection,
it displays a pulsing node graph. If you have both a wired and wireless connection, and the wired connection is active,
the wired connection image (monitor) will be used.

Network Manager Wired Connections

For computers connected to a wired network, like an Ethernet connection, Network Manager automatically detects
and establishes the network connection. Most networks use DHCP to provide network information like an IP address
and network DNS server. With this kind of connection, Network Manager can connect automatically to your network
whenever you start your system.

When you click on the Network Manager icon, a menu displays your connection. Computers with only a wired
network device (no wireless) or with wireless connections disabled will show only wired network connections, shown
here as Wired. To disconnect your wired connection, you can click the ON/OFF switch next to the Wired entry.

Network Manager Wireless Connections

With multiple wireless access points for Internet connections, a system could have several network connections to
choose from. This is particularly true for notebook computers that access different wireless connections at different
locations. Instead of manually configuring a new connection each time one is encountered, the Network Manager tool
can configure and select a connection to use automatically.
Network Manager will scan for wireless connections, checking for Extended Service Set Identifiers (ESSIDs).
If an ESSID identifies a previously used connection, it is selected. If several are found, the recently used one is chosen.
If only new connections are available, Network Manager waits for the user to choose one. A connection is selected
only if the user is logged in.
Click on the Network Manager icon to see a list of all possible network connections, including all available
wireless connections (see Figure 12). Wireless entries display the name of the wireless network and a wave graph
showing the strength of its signal. Computers with both wired and wireless devices show entries for both wired
network and wireless networks. Computers with only a wireless device only show entries for wireless networks.

To connect to a wireless network, find its network entry in the Network Manager’s menu and click on it. If this the
first time you are trying to connect to that network, you are prompted to enter the passphrase. Figure 13 shows the
prompt for the passphrase to a wireless network. Click Connect to activate the connection.

You can enable or disable networking using the ON/OFF switch located to the right of the Wired and Wireless
entries on the Network Manager menu. If you have both wired and wireless connections, you can turn off one or
the other (see Figure 14). You can disable the display of wireless networks by clicking the ON/OFF switch next
to the Wireless entry on the menu. Turning off the switch disables wireless detection. To reactivate your wireless
connections, click the ON/OFF switch again. Your wireless connections are now listed in the menu.

The first time you make a wireless connection, you will be prompted to set up a keyring. The keyring holds your
wireless connection passphrase, allowing you to connect to a wireless network without having to re-enter the network
passphrase each time. You will be asked to create a keyring password for accessing the keyring. This is a one-time
operation. Once the keyring is set up, any additional wireless connection passphrases will be added to it. When you
first log in and try to connect to a wireless network, you will be prompted for your keyring password.
On KDE, clicking the Network Manager icon on the Plasma panel displays the KDE Network Manager widget (see
Figure 15). Interfaces are listed on the left and connections on the right. To see a list of wireless connections, click
the WLAN Interface icon on the left. Information about the WLAN interface is displayed with a list of possible wireless
connections shown on the right side. Click the one you want to use. This will open an Add Network Connection
dialog displaying the Wireless Security tab, where you can choose the type of security and enter the password. If you
have not already set up a KDE wallet password, you are prompted to do so now. This will allow automatic access to
the connection later. You are then connected. You can click the Show Less button to hide all connections except the
active one. Click Show More to see all possible connections, allowing you to switch to a different one. The Manage
Connections button opens the KDE Network Manager dialog where you can manage all your connections.

System Settings Network (GNOME and Proxies)

GNOME provides a network dialog for basic information and network connection management, including proxy
settings. It is designed to work with Network Manager. Choose Network Settings from the Network Manager menu, or
click the Network icon in the System Settings dialog, to open the Network dialog (see Figure 3-). Tabs for network
connections are listed to the right. You should have entries for Wired, Wireless, and Network proxy. (Wireless is
displayed only on computers with wireless connections.) The Wired tab lets you turn the wired connection on or off.
The Wireless tab lets you choose a wireless network and then prompts you to enter a passphrase. The connection and
security type is automatically detected. Instead of using a wireless network, you can choose an airplane mode wireless
connection or use your connection as a hotspot. You can also connect to a local hidden network. A switch at the top
right lets you turn the wireless connection on or off.

Your current active connection will have a checkmark next to it and an arrow button to the right. Click on the
arrow button to see more information about the connection (see Figure 17). Click on the Disconnect button
to deactivate the connection. The Forget Network button deletes all connection information you have stored for a
connection. Clicking the Settings button opens the Network Manager wireless dialog for this connection, letting you
add more detailed information. Click the back arrow button to return to the main wireless dialog.

The Proxy tab provides a Method menu with the None, Manual, and Automatic options (see Figure18). The
Manual option lets you enter address and port information. For the Automatic option, you enter a configuration address.

To add a new connection, such as a VPN connection, click the plus button (+) below the network devices listing.
You will be prompted to choose the interface types. Then the Network Manager configuration dialogs will start up,
enabling you to enter configuration information.

Conclusion

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