The K Desktop Environment (KDE) is brilliant, dynamic, full-featured -- and dull. At least that's the way it's presented in almost every distribution and boot disk on the market. I mean look at this. It's what you get from Kubuntu...
Kubuntu's default desktop. Bor-ring!
Notice the blandness, the careful way in which any possible interest you might have is sapped by the dreary colours and wishy-washy background. It's about as exciting as a wet week in Taihape. Click on something? Explore? Nah, thanks anyway. I think I'll just curl up and die.
Take that background. There's a gazillion interesting wallpapers on KDE-look (along with themes, screensavers, icons and all sorts of other stuff) but let's just stick with what's available by default. Right-click the boring backdrop, choose Configure Desktop then Background. If you move focus to the Picture drop-down you can move up and down the list with the arrow keys and look at a preview image on the right.
Configure Desktop: Boredom ends here!
But that's just the beginning. Click Get New Wallpapers and you're transported to KDE-look where you can preview and download new backgrounds with just a couple of clicks. Hell, you can even set up a slide show of your favourite images. That's more like it!
Notice that you can set a different background on each of your virtual desktops. Your current desktop's indicated by the Desktop Preview and Pager applet on the toolbar...
That's this thing
Some distros default to only two desktops but you can have up to 20 by clicking the Multiple Desktops icon on the left in Configure Desktop. (Mouse-click the pager to change desktops or use the keyboard shortcuts. <Ctrl + F1> will take you to desktop 1, <Ctrl + F2> to desktop 2, etc. You can move applications about by dragging and dropping them around the pager itself, or by right-clicking the icon in the top left corner of whatever app you're using and choosing To Desktop.)
What use are all those virtual desktops? Here's a simple example. Once you've chosen a fancy background there's no need to minimise the Configure dialog in order to view it in all its glory. Just hit <Ctrl + F2> to check it out on an uncluttered screen -- then <Ctrl + F1> back to where you were. Easy!
What a difference an interesting wallpaper makes!
In the next installment we'll sort out that dullsville toolbar...
Continue to Part 2.