I'd like to switch gears for a little bit here, and talk about the Linux desktop. This is a topic I'd like to return to on this blog, from time to time.
I've been a Linux user since 1993. While the Linux desktop was very immature at this point, I was drawn immediately to the concept of virtual desktops. This allowed me to keep my work separate and organized - rather than cluttering up a single desktop with lots of application windows, I could put related programs on their own virtual desktop.
If you followed the "virtual desktop" link above, you can see a tour of some older Linux desktop environments. Many people who dismiss Linux on the desktop may have had their first experience on TWM or FVWM. I'll be honest - looking back, those were not great window managers. They were good for the era, but they don't age well compared to modern desktops.
So I'd like to introduce you to the Linux desktop today. I've been using Fedora 11 since June (but Fedora 12 is due soon.) Here is what my desktop looks like: (click to see larger version)
I created a "demo" user to take this screenshot, so that all the settings are at their default values. This is what a fresh install of Fedora 11 would look like.
Looks kind of like Windows, right? It's not too far off, although there are some differences:
The "Start" menu is at the top of the screen (Windows puts this at the bottom.) The Fedora logo is that blue-circle "F", so you click that (labelled "Applications") to launch programs. That top bar also has menus with bookmarks to folders, or to run system tools (like, to add a user or change your password.)
At the bottom of the screen, you have a window list (shown empty in my screenshot, because I'm not running any applications) and the workspace switcher (virtual desktops!) By default, Fedora 11 gives you 4 virtual desktops.
I usually explain the two "task bars" as: the top bar shows things you can do, while the bottom bar shows things you are doing.
By the way, making that screenshot was dead simple. Press the Print Screen key (may be labelled "PrtScr" on some keyboards) and Linux saves a screenshot of your desktop to a file: (click to see larger version)
If you don't want to save a file, you can choose to copy the screenshot to the clipboard, and paste it into a document later. Or to grab just the active window, use Alt-PrtScr.