Fedora has a preferences menu similar to other distributions of Linux using the Gnome desktop environment. Here are the bits you should look at and consider changing.
Log into Fedora and select the
System option. You will see the following list. Select the
- About GNOME
- About Fedora
- Lock Screen
- Log Out Peter...
- Shut Down...
Preferences. You will see the following menu and submenus.
- About Me
- Assistive Technology Preferences
- File Management
- Keyboard Accessibility
- Keyboard Shortcuts
- Preferred Applications
- Look and Feel
- Desktop Effects
- Main Menu
- Internet and Network
- Bluetooth Preferences
- Network Proxy
- Personal File Sharing
- Remote Desktop
- Default Printer
- PalmOS Devices
- Removable Drives and Media
- Screen Resolution
- Volume Control
- Power Management
Here is a place to change your password. You can select a photograph to identify you on your login screen, which might be useful if members of your family share the same computer. Select the existing logo to get a file selection menu. I selected an existing image of a hummingbird. Perhaps I will put a picture of a possum there.
You can also enter your contact information, address, Web page, profession, title, and a few other details. I have not found a use for the contact information.
Assistive Technology Preferences
There is an option to switch on assistive technology and set a lot of options.
This section is equivalent to the View section of Windows Explorer with options to change the way files are listed in displays. Directories are named
Folders. The defaults include sorting folders before files just line Windows Explorer.
List Columns lets you select the columns you want displayed in the list. Some columns of interest when setting up Samba shares are group, owner, permissions, and the SELinux context.
Preview section lets you control what will be presented as a preview of a file. The default is to preview local files, not files available over the network.
You can change keyboard and mouse settings if you have problems with the defaults. There is an option to test the changes as you make the changes. The sticky keys option is good for people typing with one hand but it is not available in my profile. You may have to switch on assistive technology before all the options become available in this section.
Keyboard shortcuts are useful if all your favourite shortcuts work on every computer you use. You can add and change shortcuts here. I prefer to use a mouse because I work on too many computers to change all the shortcuts and the visual confirmation of the mouse is more accurate.
This is the place to select tour Web browser and Firefox is the default. Evolution is the default mail reader and Thunderbird is not listed as an option, which means I would have to install Thunderbird then come back to this setting. The multimedia player options are Rhythmbox and Totem. You can select a terminal emulator and a couple of accessibility options including a screen reader. Those accessibility options are scattered around a lot of menu options.
You can select startup programs in Sessions. You can also list currently running programs and automatically save the list for startup when you log back in. If this was my primary workstation, I could request the automatic startup of Thunderbird after I install Thunderbird.
Look and Feel
You can decide if your Linux should have facial hair or not. Well, perhaps you do not get that level of control. You can choose a theme or create a custom theme, choose the background, fonts, and interface details.
I tried changing the background but nothing happened so I changed the background by right clicking the desktop then selecting
Change Desktop Background. The right click option presented the same selection window as the Appearance menu option. I found the way to change the background is to select the first wallpaper entry before selecting a colour. The first wallpaper entry has a pop up title of
You get to activate two really annoying effects, a wobble effect to make Linux look like it is 95 years old and loosing it, plus a stupid cube where everything is hidden around a graphic corner. The cube effect is used to sell Vista and a Sun desktop. Both compete to be the first effect you regret turning on.
Change your menu here then spend the rest of the day searching for the menu item you accidentally deleted. The main use for menu changes is to move frequently used programs from sub sub sub menus to the top level menu so you can start the programs faster.
The Cosmos screen saver is nice but changes images too fast and will distract you when you are near the computer trying to do other work. Choose the blank screen.
You might extend the idle time from 10 minutes to a larger time if you are always at your desk but working on something other than the computer. You can also leave the idle time as a low number of minutes and disable the screen lock to save having to log back in every few minutes.
Power management is selected from the same screen and the default for desktops is to put the display to sleep after 50 minutes. 50 minutes might be fine for CRT displays that do not like going to sleep but is too long for modern displays. Make the display sleep timeout just one minute longer than the screensaver activation.
When you have more time to work on the screensaver, install Boinc and join the World Community Grid to donate your spare computer power to worthwhile medical research. I will explain how on another page.
You can set some mouse and keyboard actions related to windows. The default is to maximise a window if you double click the title bar of the window and to use the Alt key with the mouse to move windows.
Internet and Network
You can set a bunch of Bluetooth preferences if you have Bluetooth installed. I do not put Bluetooth on servers or test machines because network and USB connections are faster for data transfers during the installation and setup.
The default of direct internet connection is fine for most small networks on broadband. On large corporate networks, everything is locked down and developers usually need to bypass the locks to download software and perform other common tasks. Use the manual proxy settings to get better HTTP and FTP access to the Internet.
Personal File Sharing
You could share your files using this option or you could use a Samba file share. I will use Samba because I want to share common directories, not my personal files.
Switch on remote desktop to view your desktop from another computer. If this is a test machine in another room, you can work on the test machine from your own workstation without walking to the other room. You can set a password to control who can access your desktop.
If you install more than one printer, you set the default printer here.
You could add a Euro key to old keyboards. Look through the preferences. I did not see anything of interest other than the Euro key option.
The usual mouse settings are here. The defaults work fine for me and I am often working on computers set up for other people which means I adjust to the defaults instead of changing them.
The first time you click this option, you enter a setup wizard and you need a PalmOS device to test the results.
Removable Drives and Media
There are options for cameras, PDAs, printers, scanners, and almost everything you plug into USB or insert into a DVD drive. For test and file serving machines, switch off the automatic playing and copying of files.
The default screen resolution and refresh rate are perfect for my display device. Debian sets the resolution too high giving a fuzzy appearance and most Linux distributions set the refresh rate at a dangerously low rate guaranteed to produce a headache. This is another reason to choose Fedora over the competition.
I do not have a sound device plugged in so most of the options are useless to me. One nice option, if you are deaf, is to produce a visual prompt when the system beeps. Typically a system beep is some background task completing or a hardware failure warning so you need to know what happened.
You get a volume control set similar to Windows. There is an option to duplicate the settings if you have audio connections on both the front and back of your computer, which I do have, but neither is connected to a sound device so I did not test the duplication option.
This is the same power management option presented in the screensaver options.
Fedora System Preferences give you nice control over your session on the computer. Each person using the computer can have their own login and preferences. The real work of configuring the applications and services on the computer are in System Administration, not System Preferences.