Test Driving Linux/Surf the Web

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Test Driving Linux

Depending on how much time you spend on the Internet, your web browser may be one of the most important programs on your computer. Just a few years ago, Linux users had only one graphical web browser available: the venerable Netscape Communicator. But today, Linux users are treated to a wide selection of world-class web browsers, including two browsers based upon Netscape—Mozilla and the wildly popular Firefox—and a commercial offering called Opera.

The default web browser on the Move CD is Konqueror , a full-featured browser that is part of the KDE desktop environment. In fact, the technology behind Konqueror is compelling enough that Apple chose to base its own Mac OS X web browser, called Safari, on Konqueror's code. And because the Konqueror project is open source, Apple returned their improvements back to the community—their changes were added to Konqueror to make it even better.


The Konqueror file manager you'll learn about in Chapter 3 and the web browser covered in this chapter are one and the same. Konqueror is not just a program; it also provides a framework for running whatever programs its creators choose to embed into it. That includes programs such as FTP clients, terminal windows, PDF and image viewers, and even a tool for CD ripping and MP3 encoding.

These days, it's worth trying an open source web browser for security reasons alone. Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser has proven to be riddled with security holes that can be severe enough to make your system unusable or even destroy your important files. Microsoft attempts to fix these security problems as they pop up, but the patches are a) not always successful, b) sometimes not provided until months after a security hole is found, and c) often available only to Windows XP users. Even when patches are available that do work, you may not feel comfortable using them. This is the reason millions of Windows machines have become so compromised that they can now be remotely controlled by an unsavory group of Internet citizens known as crackers . Crackers hijack many ordinary home Windows computers by exploiting security holes in Internet Explorer. Then, adding insult to injury, the crackers use these computers to send a huge portion of the world's spam email!

In 1965, Ralph Nader published a book called Unsafe at Any Speed, which detailed the reluctance of the big car companies to improve the safety of their cars through better testing or inclusion of sensible safety devices like seat belts. Similarly, Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser is also "unsafe on any computer." In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has even recommended that Americans stop using Internet Explorer!

The good news is you can switch at any time to a web browser that is safe. Do yourself and your computer a favor: install a safe web browser, such as Firefox or Mozilla. Both of these excellent web browsers can be found at http://www.mozilla.org, run on Windows, and are a breeze to download, install, and use.


Using Konqueror as a Web Browser

The Konqueror web browser supports all the usual features required by a browser, including HTML 4.0, JavaScript, the ability to run Java applets, Cascading Style Sheets, SSL, and lots more. But that's really just a lot of technical jargon; what it basically means is that Konqueror should have no problem correctly displaying the web sites you visit most. You can launch the web browser directly from the Konqueror icon in the kicker panel (it looks like a small blue world with some spikes coming out of it). Or you can start it up by selecting K Menu→ Surf the Internet→ Browse the Web. The default startup page for the version of Konqueror on Move is a welcome page that offers helpful links for Mandrake users (Figure 2-1).

Figure 2-1. The main Konqueror page in Move

The main Konqueror page in Move

Browsing the Web

Using Konqueror is no different from using any other browser, such as Internet Explorer. To navigate to a new page, double-click the text in the Location field to highlight it (the keyboard shortcut for this action is Alt-O). Then enter the new address (including the suffix, such as .com or .org) and press Enter to load the page. (The Location field serves the same purpose, and is in the same place below the menus, as the Address field in Internet Explorer.)


A useful way to launch the web browser directly from the desktop is by pressing Alt-F2 to display the Run dialog. Then type a URL (such as google.com) and click Run. This launches Konqueror and automatically loads the requested web page.

Besides using your mouse to move around on a page, you can also use several different keyboard commands, as shown in Table 2-1. Some of these commands will be familiar to IE users who navigate with the keyboard.

Table 2-1. Common web browsing shortcuts

Keyboard shortcut Used to...
Ctrl-Shift-N Create a new tab
Ctrl-N Open a new browser window
Ctrl-W Close the active tab
Ctrl-Q Close the browser window
Alt-left arrow Go back a page
Alt-right arrow Go forward a page
Ctrl-R or F5 Reload a page
Ctrl-left click Open the link in a new tab
Page Down Scroll down one screen
Page Up Scroll up one screen
Alt-O Put the cursor in the Location field and highlight the text
Ctrl-+ Increase font size
Ctrl— Decrease font size
Ctrl-[ Move to the browser tab to the left of your current one
Ctrl-] Move to the browser tab to the right of your current one

Just as in other browsers, Konqueror's Forward and Back buttons keep a history of the most recently viewed pages (Figure 2-2). If you click and hold your mouse over one of these buttons, a small menu appears from which you can select the page you want to move back to. Jumping back five pages this way is much faster than clicking the Back button five times and waiting for each page to load.

Figure 2-2. Using the Back button submenu to jump back several pages

Using the Back button submenu to jump back several pages

As you can see, for basic use, Konqueror is not really any different from Internet Explorer. But don't let Konqueror's ease of use fool you. It has several advanced features that make it a compelling replacement for IE.

Searching from the Location Bar

One of the most useful things on the Internet is the Google search engine. Many users visit Google dozens of times a day as the starting point for their Internet fun. Though Google usually loads very quickly, it is still annoying to have to go to it each time you want to perform a search. Many IE users install the Google toolbar so they can have a search field on their browser at all times. With Konqueror, there is no need to install this extra software because the location bar itself can be used to automatically Google things. To use this feature, just double-click the text in the Location field to highlight it, then type a search word or phrase directly into the Location field and press Enter. Konqueror automatically uses the Google search engine to look up what you typed. You can even use all the features you would normally use with the Google search field, like quotes around exact phrases and minus (-) signs to force the search to ignore certain words.


Bring up the Run dialog by pressing Alt-F2, then type gg:mandrake to perform a Google search of the word mandrake. (Or try an even more exciting word, like Linux.)

If Google is not your search engine of choice, you can easily change the default search engine from within Konqueror by clicking Settings→ Configure Konqueror→ Web Shortcuts. In the configuration panel, click on the drop-down list for "Default search engine" and select the search engine you wish to use. Click OK to apply your choice and close the settings screen.

General search engines like Google are not the only, or even the best, way to find information on the Internet. There are many specialized web sites that can help you find specific types of information with a high rate of success. One of the most well known is the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) at http://www.imdb.com. This site has a huge amount of information about actors and actresses, movies, and TV shows. It is an indispensable resource for those who like to keep track of such things.

But, just as you can search Google without actually visiting the Google web site, you can search IMDB from the Location field in Konqueror as well. For example, to search for Ted Danson, simply type the following query into the Location field (Figure 2-3) and press Enter:

imdb:Ted Danson

Figure 2-3. Entering an IMDB query in Konqueror

Entering an IMDB query in Konqueror

What you will get back is the IMDB web page on Ted Danson, just as if you had visited IMDB and typed your search directly into its search field (Figure 2-4). Typing imdb: in the Location field in Konqueror is an example of using a web shortcut.

Figure 2-4. The IMDB results for Ted Danson

The IMDB results for Ted Danson

Konqueror has dozens of web shortcuts already conveniently set up for you. Simply open Settings→ Configure Konqueror→ Web Shortcuts to see a list of them. The Shortcut column tells you what you need to enter in the Location field to start your search. For instance, to search the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, you can enter dict: or webster: followed by the word you want to search for. Press Enter to start your search.


A very useful web shortcut to use in conjunction with technical books like this one is the Acronym database. This web site (known as ad for short) tells you what many acronyms in this book mean. For example, to search for the acronym HTML, type ad:HTML in the Location field and press Enter.

You can modify these web shortcuts by highlighting the ones you want to edit and clicking Change. Then you can edit the words in the "URI shortcuts" field or add new words by placing a comma after the last word and entering a new shortcut word. Note that there is no space after the comma in these entries. If you put in a space after a shortcut, that shortcut will stop working, and when you attempt to use it Konqueror will instead perform a general search using Google.

Customizing Konqueror

Because Konqueror can wear so many hats (acting as a file manager, web browser, and FTP client, among other things), it needs to remember all your preferences for these very different functions. Konqueror keeps track of your preferences through profiles . These profiles remember what size window you prefer, your default startup web page (homepage), and your favorite toolbar configuration. There are five default profiles: File Management, Web Browsing, File Preview, Midnight Commander, and Trash, and you can create more profiles to suit your purposes. The most frequent changes made to the default Web Browsing profile are to the default startup page and to the size of the browser window.

Making Konqueror Remember Its Size

As you use Konqueror, you may become annoyed by the fact that it doesn't remember your preferred window size each time you restart it. I don't know the reason it was programmed this way; after all, KDE remembers the window sizes of other programs. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this annoyance. To configure the web browser so that it automatically appears in your preferred window size, all you need to do is update the Web Browsing profile.

First, set the Konqueror window to the size you want. Then, inside Konqueror, select Settings→ Save View Profile "Web Browsing" to load the profile manager shown in Figure 2-5.

Figure 2-5. The Web Browsing profile configuration dialog

The Web Browsing profile configuration dialog

Near the bottom of the window, uncheck the box next to "Save URLs in profile" and check the box next to "Save window size in profile." Then click Save. The next time you launch the Konqueror web browser, it will open to your preferred size. Problem solved!

Setting a Homepage

When the web browser starts up in the Move CD, it displays a default page that was set by Mandrakesoft. But you can change the startup page to anything you want—say, the homepage of your favorite news site or sports team.

To specify a different homepage, first load the desired page into Konqueror. Then click Settings→ Save View Profile "Web Browsing" to load the profile preferences. Make sure the "Save URLs in profile" option is checked, then click Save. The next time you start up the web browser, it will display your newly selected homepage.

Like any web browser, Konqueror loads faster if no default page is set. To set Konqueror to a blank page, simply perform the step above with the "Save URLs in profile" option unchecked.

Changing the Font Sizes

One annoying thing that Linux and Mac users have to deal with are web designers who create pages with only Microsoft Windows in mind. This problem manifests itself in several ways. For example, sometimes a web page won't load because it irritatingly insists that you use Internet Explorer. Or the text on a page may show up in a teensy-tiny little font. Take a look at Figure 2-6, which shows Microsoft's homepage displayed in Konqueror. If you can read that extremely tiny text, then congratulations—you probably don't need glasses. But if you feel the beginnings of a headache coming on, then relief is available. Konqueror provides a way to specify font sizes that should cut down on these problems.

Figure 2-6. Extremely small text on a web page designed for Windows

Extremely small text on a web page designed for Windows

To set your font size preferences, just open the Preferences window by selecting Settings→ Configure Konqueror and clicking on the Fonts icon. You'll see that the Font panel includes an option for setting minimum and medium font sizes. The first setting tells Konqueror to enlarge any text to at least the minimum requested size; the second controls the size of typical body text.

Select a font size that's comfortable for you (try 10 points minimum and 12 points medium). After making the desired changes, click the OK button to accept the changes and close the window. Your currently viewed page should be automatically updated, but if you're in doubt that any change occurred, click the Refresh button. Figure 2-7 shows the Microsoft homepage after these settings were adjusted.

Figure 2-7. The same web page after setting a minimum and medium font size

The same web page after setting a minimum and medium font size

You can also change the font size "on the fly" using a keyboard shortcut. Pressing Ctrl combined with + or - respectively increases or decreases the font sizes on a page in real time. This is useful for when you encounter a web site that has particularly odd font sizes and you only need a temporary fix.

As you might guess, you can also use this Font configuration panel to control the fonts you want to display. Experiment and discover which fonts make for the most comfortable reading. You won't see many familiar font names in the Konqueror font listing because most fonts have to be licensed from their creators in order to be used. No free distribution of Linux can legally include such licensed fonts. Some Linux companies do buy fonts and distribute them with their versions of Linux, but these versions of Linux must be purchased.

Simplifying the Toolbar

Konqueror, like most KDE applications, has a rather messy default toolbar (as shown in Figure 2-8). This may come from the KDE development philosophy of making as many features as possible available to you. This is great because it gives you a lot of control over all the applications, but it can be distracting if you prefer a simple look. Thankfully, KDE allows you to modify the toolbars.

Figure 2-8. The default Konqueror toolbar

The default Konqueror toolbar

The procedure to change Konqueror's default toolbar is fairly simple. To start customizing, just right-click in any blank space on the toolbar containing the Back and Forward buttons and choose Configure Toolbars. In the Configure Toolbars window, first select the toolbar you want to modify from the Toolbar drop-down list.


Note that the default toolbar you see in Konqueror is actually made up of two toolbars: the Main Toolbar <Konqueror> and the rather confusingly named Main Toolbar <khtmlpart>. You need to make adjustments to both of these toolbars in order to remove unnecessary icons.

The Configure Toolbars window has two lists. The list on the left, labeled "Available actions," contains icons and actions you can add to your toolbar. The list on the right, labeled "Current actions," contains icons and actions you can remove from your toolbar. The left and right arrow icons between the lists control whether a selected item is moved from the left-hand list to the right-hand list or vice versa, and the up and down arrow icons move selected items up and down the list. The order of icons in the list is the order in which the icons appear on the actual toolbar. Click OK or Apply to accept any changes. If you make a mistake, just click Cancel to close the window without making any changes permanent.

So to remove an item from your toolbar, for example, select it in the "Current actions" list, click the left arrow icon to send the selected item to the "Available actions" list, and click OK or Apply to make your changes permanent. That's it! Figure 2-9 shows you what the Configure Toolbars window looks like with the Cut action highlighted and ready to be removed.

Figure 2-9. Removing icons from the Konqueror toolbar

Removing icons from the Konqueror toolbar

My personal preference is to remove all the default icons except for Back, Forward, Home, Reload, Stop, and Printer. In order to do this, I have to remove items from both the Main Toolbar <Konqueror> and the Main Toolbar <khtmlpart>. I also like to set the icons to be a little larger, which you can do by right-clicking on the toolbar, selecting Icon Size, and choosing a new size. Figure 2-10 shows my customized version of the Konqueror toolbar.

Figure 2-10. A simplified Konqueror toolbar

A simplified Konqueror toolbar

Disabling Pop-Up Ads

Those stupid ads that seem to pop up everywhere are definitely one of the most annoying things about surfing the Web. A great feature of Konqueror, and most other Linux web browsers, is the ability to prevent these pop-up windows from rudely appearing and interrupting your web surfing. Microsoft recently incorporated this functionality into IE with the release of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. This is great if you use Windows XP, but not very useful for the 80 million people who don't.

To disable pop-ups in Konqueror, open the Settings→ Configure Konqueror window and click the Java & JavaScript icon. This may seem like an odd place for these settings, but because most pop-ups are controlled by JavaScript code, it actually does make sense. Figure 2-11 shows the settings on the JavaScript tab that you can use to control pop-ups. To block most pop-ups, check off either Deny or Smart in the "Open new windows" dialog. Deny means that JavaScript is never allowed to open a new window; Smart means that a new window opens only if you purposefully clicked a JavaScript-enabled link. Smart is usually the better option here, because it doesn't break the functionality of web mail and bank web sites that sometimes open separate windows to have you fill out a form. So just click on Deny or Smart, press OK, and you won't be bothered with annoying pop-ups anymore.

Figure 2-11. Disabling pop-up ads in the JavaScript panel

Disabling pop-up ads in the JavaScript panel

If even the Smart option prevents a web site from working properly, you need to create an exception for that site and allow it to create pop-up windows. To do this, click on the New button in the Domain-Specific section of the JavaScript tab. In the window that appears, type in the domain name (like oreilly.com or nyt.com) in the "Host or domain name" field, set the JavaScript policy drop-down list to Accept, and check off the Allow box for the "Open new windows" option. Click OK to apply your changes. From now on, the web site you specified should always allow pop-up windows.

Exploring Tabbed Web Browsing

Tabbed browsing is a great feature for power web surfers. In normal web browsing, clicking on a link changes the current page to display the contents of the link you clicked on, or sometimes a clicked link opens up a new browser window. The eventual result is that after 20 minutes of surfing you end up with several open browser windows cluttering up your desktop.

The solution to this browsing mess is tabs. Tabbed browsing allows you to have several pages open at the same time within one window. Tabbed browsing, which originated in the web browser Opera, has become so popular that all modern web browsers except Internet Explorer (who would have guessed?) include the feature. Don't ask me why Microsoft hasn't added it yet; until recently, they were way behind with pop-up ad blocking, too.

One of the best ways to show off the power of tabs is to visit a site that has a lot of links to articles you want to read. A news site is a good choice. A favorite site among Linux users is http://www.slashdot.org, which proclaims itself to be "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters." To see how tabbed browsing works, open the Slashdot site, hold down the Ctrl key, and left-click on several article links. Each link opens in a new tab located just below the Location field. Figure 2-12 shows three tabs; Google and Slashdot are in the background, and the tab in the foreground is displaying oreilly.com. You can also click your middle mouse button on a link for the same effect.

Figure 2-12. Each tab represents a different web page

Each tab represents a different web page


A middle mouse button click entails different things, depending upon the type of mouse you have. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, it means clicking the scroll wheel as if it were a button. If you have a three-button mouse, it means clicking the middle mouse button. If you have a two-button mouse, it means clicking both the left and right mouse buttons simultaneously, a process known as chording.

Using tabs in this manner is useful because it allows sites you are interested in to be loaded in the background. While you continue to read your main news page, other articles can load in the tabs and will be ready for reading when you get done with the main page. It also means you don't lose your starting place while chasing down a series of links that caught your interest, but that were only tangential to the reason you opened your browser in the first place.

To bring a tabbed page to the front, click its tab with the mouse or press Ctrl-[ or Ctrl-] to cycle through the tabs. Close the active tab by right-clicking it and selecting Close, by clicking the Close icon to the far right of the tab bar, or by pressing Ctrl-W on the keyboard.

You can open a new blank tab in several convenient ways. You can select Location→ New Tab from the Konqueror menu, or press Ctrl-Shift-N (a particularly difficult combination to remember). Or, if a tab is already visible, you can right-click it and select New Tab. Regardless of your method, the tab will open, ready for you to enter an address or a search phrase in the Location field.


One particularly great use for tabs is to have your web browser open with all your favorite sites loading automatically. To do this, create a bunch of tabs and load a different preferred site in each one. Then go to Settings→ Save View Profile "Web Browsing" and save your web browsing profile with the "Save URLs in profile" option checked. Close and reopen Konqueror, and watch the magic happen.

Though tabs are enabled by default, two settings that make tabs more useful are turned off. It's definitely worth taking the time to fix this. The configuration settings for tabs can be found by clicking on Settings→ Configure Konqueror→ Web behavior. From here, check the box next to "Open links in new tab instead of in new window." Then, click the Advanced Options button and check off "Open as tab in existing Konqueror when URL is called externally" (see Figure 2-13). Click OK, then press Save to close the Settings window. From now on, when you click on a link that would normally open in a new window, it will open in a new tab instead, and clicking on a link in another application, such as email, will open the URL in a new tab of an already running instance of Konqueror, instead of launching a new Konqueror window. These settings help keep things neat and tidy.

Figure 2-13. Konqueror's tab configuration panel

Konqueror's tab configuration panel

Teaching Konqueror to Lie

It is a sad fact that Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser has over 90 percent of the web browser market. What's even sadder is that many web sites insist that you use Internet Explorer if you want to visit the site at all. They do this because they want to make sure you have the best browsing experience possible and mistakenly believe that only IE can provide it. Some web sites advise you to use an updated browser and then suggest something like Internet Explorer Version 4.0 or higher. Konqueror is a far more advanced web browser than IE 4 ever was, and arguably more advanced than IE 6 is now, but that doesn't stop these web sites from mistakenly thinking you have an outdated browser.

In the end, if you want to visit these sites, you have no choice but to lie to them. (Extreme, but necessary!) Use the following steps to configure Konqueror to pretend to be a web browser that is acceptable to troublesome web sites.

Click Settings→ Configure Konqueror→ Browser Identification. In this panel, click the New button under Site Specific Identification. In the dialog that appears, type in the URL for the web site you intend to lie to. For example, if your problem is with the Weight Watchers web site, enter weightwatchers.com in the field "When browsing the following site." In the next field, "Use the following identification," select the web browser you will pretend to be. The best selection in the list is probably Safari 1.0 on Mac OS X, because as mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, Safari is based upon Konqueror code. If choosing Safari doesn't get you in, try using one of the Mozilla options, or IE on Mac PPC.


Web servers track the types of browsers that visit their sites. Therefore, by choosing something other than IE on Windows, you are reminding those running the web site that they should program for a broader set of users. Who knows—if enough people visit using a non-Internet Explorer browser, the web site owners just might change their policy

Figure 2-14 shows a completely filled out "pretend" browser identification dialog. The Update List button simply downloads a fresh list of available browser identifications.

Figure 2-14. Configuring Konqueror to identify itself as IE on PPC

Configuring Konqueror to identify itself as IE on PPC

The best way to let a web site know that you want them to support your browser is to send them an email and tell them. If you can't find an address on the web site to send complaints to, you can always try webmaster@websitename. Let them know which browser you use, and whether the web site functioned correctly after you pretended to be IE. Web sites are more likely to add support for something that already works well.

Using Bookmarks

Like all good web browsers, Konqueror supports saved web site links known as bookmarks. Bookmarks, also known as Favorites to those who use Internet Explorer, make it easy to revisit your favorite web sites with the single click. In Konqueror, bookmarks can be used for web sites, FTP sites, or even a directory on your hard drive.

Adding a Bookmark

To bookmark a page you're currently viewing, simply select Bookmarks→ Add Bookmark from the drop-down menu. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl-B, and there is also a right-click context menu option called Bookmark This Location. Once you create a new bookmark, open the Bookmark menu once again, and you will see the new bookmark at the bottom of the list. By default, new bookmarks are also displayed on the Bookmark toolbar. In Konqueror, this is the toolbar directly below the Location field, and it is probably already populated with several links to Mandrakesoft.

Managing Bookmarks

You've probably bookmarked dozens of web sites you visit regularly, and even more sites that you find of occasional interest and don't want to forget how to get there. But your bookmarks, some of which have very obscure names, can quickly become difficult to navigate if you don't apply some sort of organization scheme to them. Konqueror has a very useful bookmark manager feature to help with this task. To organize your list of bookmarks, select Bookmarks→ Edit Bookmarks to open the bookmark manager.

Since Konqueror just appends new bookmark entries to the bottom of the list, you may find that your bookmarks get messy quite quickly. You can easily rearrange bookmarks inside the bookmark manager by dragging them to desired positions on the list or into folders. You can create new folders by clicking the Create New Folder icon on the toolbar (it's the one that looks like a folder), by pressing Ctrl-N, or by right-clicking inside the manager and choosing Create New Folder (as shown in Figure 2-15). New folders are added to the top of the bookmark list.

Figure 2-15. The right-click menu in the bookmark manager

The right-click menu in the bookmark manager


If you frequently bookmark pages, cleaning up bookmarks later on can be time consuming. A nice feature of Konqueror is the ability to place a bookmark in a specific folder at the time you create it. The easiest way to do this is through the Bookmarks menu. While viewing a page you want to bookmark, just click the Bookmarks menu, navigate to the folder you want to put the link in, and select Add Bookmark.

To remove any unwanted entries, select the items so that they become highlighted (use Shift-click or Ctrl-click to select more than one item). Then delete your selections by choosing Edit→ Delete, by right-clicking an entry and selecting Delete, or simply by pressing the Delete key. Repeat the process until all unwanted entries have been removed.

After tidying things up, choose File→ Quit to close the manager and save your changes. The new and improved bookmark list is now ready to use.

Using the Bookmark Toolbar

As I mentioned earlier, the Bookmark toolbar is the thin bar underneath the Location field. This is a convenient place to store bookmarks to your most frequently visited web sites. Since the Bookmark toolbar displays all of your bookmarks as clickable buttons, it can get cluttered very easily. If you don't like the Bookmark toolbar, you can remove it entirely by deselecting the Settings→ Toolbars→ Show Bookmark Toolbar (Konqueror) option.

However, if you like the convenience of having your favorite web sites just a single click away, you'd probably rather just specify the exact links you want on the toolbar. To do this, go to Bookmarks→ Edit Bookmarks, and in the Bookmark Editor, click Settings and select "Display Only Marked Bookmarks in Konqueror Bookmark Toolbar." Then click the Save icon. Doing this hides all your Bookmark toolbar entries (but not the bookmarks in your Bookmark list). To select a bookmark to put back on the toolbar, simply right-click on the bookmark inside the Bookmark Editor and choose "Show in Toolbar." Your change is applied once you click the Save icon or close and save the Bookmark Editor.

Playing with the Bookmark and History Sidebar

Like IE, Konqueror provides a sidebar on the left side of the browser window to display bookmarks and your browsing history. You can toggle the appearance of the sidebar by pressing the F9 key. When the sidebar is visible, there is a collection of icons along the left side that control the contents of the sidebar. Some of these items are relevant only when Konqueror is being used as a file manager, but the bookmark and history icons are useful when browsing the Web.

Click once on the bookmark icon (a star) to show your entire bookmarks collection inside the sidebar. This is the same list displayed by clicking the Bookmarks menu item, but this way it's off to the side and out of your way, but at the same time always visible so you can quickly click on a link.

The history icon looks like a small clock. Clicking it lists all of the web sites you have visited in a specified time period (see Figure 2-16). You can change the time period (as well as other things) in the History preference panel, which you can reach by clicking Settings→ Configure Konqueror→ History Sidebar. The history gives you an easy way to get back to web sites that you've visited recently. If you're concerned about your privacy and don't want others to see your history, just use the Clear History button to erase your tracks. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the history from being created, but you can set the "Maximum number of URLs" to 1, which means that only your most recently visited web site gets saved.

Figure 2-16. The History view in the sidebar

The History view in the sidebar

Dealing with Helper Applications

Helper applications are programs that work with a web browser to handle certain types of files, such as PDFs, Flash animations, and videos. Helper applications often require you to make some changes in your computer setup (also known as your configuration) so that your web browser knows which application to launch when it encounters certain types of files.

The Move CD includes the following helper applications:

Acrobat Reader
You can use this program to view Portable Document Files (PDFs). These files often show up on the Internet as links on various web sites. PDFs are used when their creators want to be certain you see the document exactly the way they want it displayed. The Acrobat Reader program is provided by Adobe and includes a small browser plug-in that makes it possible to view PDF images inside your web browser.
Macromedia's Flash Player
Many web sites contain multimedia sections that are viewable only with the Flash Player. These so-called Flash animations are very common on the Internet; many web sites use Flash to create interactive games or experiences for visitors. This program is the most commonly downloaded plug-in in the world.
Real's RealPlayer
You can use this program to view streaming sound and video over the Internet. Many news and music web sites provide multimedia streams that require this program.

Some other popular helper applications, such as Macromedia's Shockwave, do not run on Linux, so Konqueror doesn't support them. And although the Move CD does not contain support for Microsoft's WMA or Apple's QuickTime programs, it is possible to use these programs in Linux once you install a Linux distribution on your hard drive.

Changing a Helper Application

One of the great but confusing things about Linux is that there is often more than one program to accomplish any given task. There are multiple desktop environments (KDE, GNOME, WindowMaker, Xfce, and more), multiple web browsers (Konqueror, Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Galeon, and others), and even more than one program for viewing PDF files.

On the Move CD, PDF files are by default displayed in a program called KGhostview. KGhostview, shown in Figure 2-17, is a great PDF viewer that loads quickly and has an interface that integrates nicely with the rest of the KDE desktop. However, you may come across some files that do not display properly in KGhostview. If that happens to you, there's an easy fix—just set Adobe's Acrobat Reader to be your default PDF viewer.

Figure 2-17. A PDF file displayed in KGhostview

A PDF file displayed in KGhostview

To change your default PDF viewer, go to Settings→ Configure Konqueror→ File Associations. In the "Configure file associations" panel, shown in Figure 2-18, expand the application group by clicking the plus sign next to it, then click once on the pdf entry. Alternatively, you also just type pdf into the "Find filename pattern field" and then click pdf.

Figure 2-18. Creating a PDF file association

Creating a PDF file association

Now click the Add button under Application Preference Order. In the resulting Choose Application selector shown in Figure 2-19, choose Acrobat Reader from the menu under All Applications→ Office→ Publishing, or just type the program name acroread in the text field. Once you've made your selection, click OK to accept it.


Learning on the job

Until you really become familiar with Linux (which usually means doing a lot of work on the command line, a topic covered in Chapter 11), you probably won't know the actual commands to launch even your most frequently used programs. Don't worry—you probably don't know the commands in Windows, either.

Figure 2-19. Choosing Acrobat Reader

Choosing Acrobat Reader


The first time Acrobat Reader runs, you have to accept a license. This window may get hidden behind other applications, so if the PDF doesn't open within a few seconds, look at your taskbar to find the license window so you can accept Adobe's terms.

Acrobat Reader should now appear in the Application Preference Order list. If it's not already at the top of the list, select it so that it becomes highlighted and click the Move Up button until it's at the top. Finally, press OK to accept the change. KDE then tells you that it is updating the system configuration. The next time you click a link to a PDF file, you'll be offered the option of either downloading the file or opening it in Acrobat Reader.

Flash Player

Flash Player is a plug-in program for viewing Macromedia Flash animations. Move is preconfigured to use this plug-in, so you don't need to change anything to enjoy Flash-enabled web sites, such as the one shown in Figure 2-20. If you have kids or are a kid at heart yourself, you might want to check out some of the great Flash games on the Web. Do a Google search for Flash games or just go straight to the aptly named http://www.addictinggames.com.

Figure 2-20. Konqueror playing a Flash game

Konqueror playing a Flash game


RealPlayer is a popular program for listening to and viewing online streaming audio and video files. RealPlayer is not an application that gets embedded into your web browser like Flash; instead, a separate application, RealPlayer G2, is launched when you click a link for a RealPlayer audio or video file.

You can find RealPlayer audio and video streams all over the Internet. For a quick test to make sure everything is working (and to hear a great Boston band whose lead singer and guitarist happen to work at O'Reilly), head on over to http://www.thecharms.net/charms2/discography2.htm and click one of the Streaming links. This loads a page where you can select streams for one of three songs.

When you click on one of the streaming links, you are presented with a dialog asking you if you want to save or open the link; choose Open. The next dialog presents a similar choice, but this time select Open with RealPlayer G2. If you check off the option "Do not ask again," you won't get this dialog in the future. Instead, RealPlayer will immediately launch each time you click on a link to a RealPlayer file.


The first time you use RealPlayer, you need to go through a little setup routine (in which you enter your email address, zip code, connection speed, etc.). One little checkbox that you might want to pay attention to is "Inform me of updates and events." This checkbox is preselected for you. If you don't unclick it, you will get spam-like email from Real.com at the email address you provide.


SHOUTcast (and Icecast) are streaming audio formats often used by independent radio stations. You don't need a special plug-in to enjoy these types of files because Totem, KDE's built-in media player, can handle them quite nicely.

To test out these formats, locate a web site that offers these files (such as http://www.shoutcast.com) and select an appropriate link. Since Konqueror doesn't initially know what to do with this type of file, it will ask whether you want to download it or open it. Just as in the RealPlayer setup, you should click Open. Then, in the next dialog, click Open with Totem Movie Player. Totem then opens on the desktop and, as shown in Figure 2-21, begins playing the audio stream. If you make the Totem window larger, you'll also be treated to a cool light show.


Don't let the mislabeling of the Totem multimedia program as a "movie player" confuse you. Totem is a complete multimedia application similar to Windows Media Player and it supports most of the media formats you need on a regular basis.

Figure 2-21. Playing a streaming audio file with Totem

Playing a streaming audio file with Totem

Accessing FTP Sites

And as if all the other good things in this chapter weren't enough, Konqueror is also a full-featured File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client that supports file transfers, bookmarks, and drag and drop—all the usual stuff. To see Konqueror's FTP capabilities, just connect to the Internet, enter an FTP site into the Location field, and press Enter. For a very popular FTP site that hosts a lot of important open source projects, try ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub (Figure 2-22). The FTP site loads, and from this point on acts as if it were a folder on your computer (though it'll probably be slower to respond if you don't have a fast Internet connection). Once you've connected to an FTP site, you can download a file or folder by simply dragging it to a location in your home directory and selecting Copy Here.


Though FTP is less popular than it once was, Linux users still use it frequently. Often, the best way to get a copy of a Linux distribution is to download a CD image of it (usually called an ISO file) from an FTP site. The installers for many open source programs are also available only on FTP sites.

Figure 2-22. An FTP site opened in Konqueror

An FTP site opened in Konqueror

If the FTP site you're trying to access requires a password, enter the location in a format such as:


Note that your account name is added to the front of the FTP URL. Think of it like an email address for an FTP site.

Enter the correct password into the authorization dialog box (Figure 2-23) and press OK. If the login is accepted, you'll be directed to the FTP site.

Figure 2-23. Authenticating yourself for an FTP site

Authenticating yourself for an FTP site

The Mozilla Web Browser

Although Konqueror is the default web browser on the Move CD, there is another web browser on the CD as well. This browser is called Mozilla.

Longtime web surfers may remember the company Netscape and its flagship web browser, Netscape Navigator. When Netscape lost the browser wars with Microsoft, it open-sourced its web browser in 1998. That means that all the code for that previously proprietary program became available for anybody in the world to use—and hopefully improve. Since that time, a group of developers has been working on creating a new and innovative browser from the original Navigator source code. This project took a lot of turns, including a ground-up rewrite, but eventually produced the Mozilla Suite, an all-in-one Internet application with a web browser, email client, newsgroup reader, and web page composer.

The Move CD includes the full Mozilla Suite, and since this is an application you can use on both Linux and Windows, it is worth taking a look at. The Mozilla browser has most of the features I've already described for Konqueror, including pop-up ad blocking and tabbed browsing. The Mozilla web page composer is covered in Chapter 12.


The part of Mozilla that determines how web pages are displayed is called the gecko rendering engine. Because it is an open source component, gecko is being used by half a dozen other web browsers, including the incredibly popular, cross-platform Firefox.

Mozilla is also available on Windows. If you want to install it on Windows, visit http://www.mozilla.org to download the program. On the Mozilla home page, you will see mentions of the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client. These programs are cross-platform as well. They aren't installed on the Move CD, but I'll provide more information about them in Chapter 12.

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