The desktop Panel is the bar that stretches across the bottom of the screen and holds icons and small applications that make using your system easier. The Panel also holds the Main Menu, which contains menu items for all of your applications. Applets allow you to run specific tasks or monitor your system or services, like the Red Hat Network, while remaining out of your way.
Figure 6-2. The Panel at the Bottom of the Desktop
You can click on the Panel’s Main Menu button (the big red hat icon on the left of the Panel) to expand it into a large set of menus that enable you to access the applications on your system. From here, you can start most applications included in Red Hat Linux. Notice that in addition to the recommended applications, you can also access additional applications under the Extras entry. These submenus give you access to a full range of applications on your system. From the Main Menu, you can also do the following:
Run applications from a command line
Lock your screen (which runs a password-protected screen saver).
Applets are small applications that run on the Panel. Applets usually let you monitor things on your system or the Internet. Some have more specific tasks while others are designed to be entertaining.
There are a few applets that run on your Panel by default. These applets are fairly important and are covered in the following sections.
The Workspace Switcher (see Figure 6-3) is a simple applet that allows you to see what applications you have open on your workspace (a workspace is also called a desktop). The graphical desktop gives you the ability to use multiple workspaces so you do not have to have all your running applications crowding one viewable desktop area. The Workspace Switcher represents each workspace in small squares and shows the applications running on them. You may click on one of the squares with your mouse to move to that workspace.
You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-Right Arrow or Ctrl-Alt-Left Arrow to switch between workspaces.
Figure 6-3. The Workspace Switcher
Next to the Workspace Switcher is the Taskbar. The Taskbar is an applet that shows you the titles of running applications on any desktop. This is very helpful if you decide to minimize an application, as it will seem to disappear from the desktop. After it disappears, you can bring it back by clicking on its title in the Taskbar.
Figure 6-4. The Taskbar
An icon is a picture (usually small, although you can resize icons as discussed later in this chapter) that represents a file or directory, or even devices and application launchers. Double-clicking an icon enables access to the target of the icon. To access the file or directory that an icon represents, either double-click the icon or right-click it and choose Open (or Open With . . . if you want to choose the application with which to open the file). In Figure 6-1, you can see three icons on the desktop, as well as several icons on the Panel (also called applets).
As part of the Panel Notification Area, the Red Hat Network Notification Tool provides you with an easy way to make sure your system is up to date with current errata and bug fixes from Red Hat. The applet shows you different images that indicate whether your system is up to date or needs upgrades. If you click on the applet, a list of available updates will be displayed. To update your system, click the button to launch the Red Hat Update Agent. If you are not registered with Red Hat Network, it will launch the registration application. Right-click on the applet icon and select Help for details.
Figure 6-5. The Red Hat Network Notification Tool
One icon that is sometimes displayed in the Notification Area is a security notification that alerts you whenever you have gained root authentication for your system. It disappears when the authentication times out.
Figure 6-6. The Authentication Icon