One of the many ways KDE makes our lives easier is by providing graphical interfaces for many of the tasks that computer users want to perform. Web browsers typically accept certain protocols that connect them to resources, such as http, https, and ftp. In KDE, these are called KIO slaves, and nearly all KDE applications can interact with them.
What makes KDE unique is that there are over 50 KIO slaves available for use. These include everything from basic file management (file:/directoryname) to remote network management (remote:/). I have selected a few notable KIO slaves to demonstrate how they are used and have also included a list of useful ones at the end of this post.
1. applications:/ and programs:/
Both of these KIO slaves show a user the available applications on a computer. They are arranged in categories just like the K-menu, and you can navigate through the hierarchy simply by clicking on category icons until you reach the program you want to start. This is handy for people who have trouble with menus or prefer not to use them. It is also convenient when you want to start multiple programs from the same category. You can use this protocol in both Konqueror and Dolphin file manager.
Fish is a powerful network tool that allows you to connect to a remote computer via SSH. In order to connect, enter a string like the following into the navigation bar of Konqueror or Dolphin:
It will prompt you for a password and even give you the option to save it. You can then manipulate, copy, and delete files on that computer as if it were a folder in your own file system. If you frequently connect to the same remote computers, however, KDE offers an even more powerful protocol called remote:/.
With the remote KIO, you can setup multiple network connections and save them for later use. To start a new connection:
1. Enter remote:/ into the navigation bar in Dolphin or Konqueror.
2. Click “Add Network Folder”
3. You then have a choice of webdav, ftp, Microsoft Windows network drive, or ssh. Choose the one you want.
4. Enter the connection name, server, username, and password information as requested.
5. Click “Save & Connect”.
By default, it will create an icon with the connection name you chose. Anytime you want to connect to that remote computer again, just click on the icon.
Linux and other Unix-like operating systems have hundreds of commands with very complex settings that can be manually applied from the command line. A beginner will probably not need most of them, but if you find yourself needing to enter a command line string but are not sure how, you will need to read the command’s “man” (manual) page.
If you want to see the manual for the “fsck” command, you would normally open a terminal and type:
With KDE, you can get a nice browser interface to the man page without searching for it online. In the Konqueror navigation bar, just type
If you are like me, you do not like having to navigate through the menus of your huge collection of website bookmarks. Konqueror provides a nice interface for viewing your bookmarks. Just type:
The only drawback with this is that it assumes you use Konqueror as your browser.
KIO slaves not only work with Dolphin and Konqueror. For example, if you want to edit a PHP file on a remote server, you can enter the fish:/string directly into the “open file” dialog of Kate. It also works indirectly. You can open a remote connection in Dolphin, right click on a remote file, and open in a live editing window. When you are finished, click Save, and the remote file is changed. You can also initiate many KIO slaves through krunner (Alt-F2) The possibilities are numerous and rewarding.
Here are some other useful KIO slaves:
- tar:/, zip:/, gzip:/, bzip:/, bzip2:/ all allow you to navigate into archives like they are folders.
- fonts:/ shows installed fonts
- cgi:/ runs cgi programs without a webserver
- finger:/ provides information about a host name where “finger” is enabled.
- settings:/ is similar to applications:/ providing an alternative method of accessing system settings.
- smb:/ accesses and browses Samba shares. This is also available through remote:/
- sftp:/ is a secure file transfer over SSH.
- desktop:/ shows the files inside the desktop folder.
- trash:/ shows the contents of the trash can.
A full list of working KIO slaves and some still under development is available by starting KInfoCenter in KDE.