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KDE Plasma Workspaces provide a graphical interface and lots of eye candy for the desktop Linux experience. Many would argue that it is equal to or even better at this than Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. KDE, however, is not only a graphical frontend for Linux. It comes with a set of applications and also with a set of system administration tools that can help power users take control of their desktops or laptops without dropping to the command line.
KDE administration tools are primarily located in System Settings. Start system settings by clicking on the kickoff (K) launcher button and selecting “System Settings” or by pressing Alt+F2 and typing “System Settings”. If, for some reason, you cannot find it, the command path is /usr/bin/systemsettings.
Once you have System Settings open, scroll down to the fourth section called “System Administration”. There you will find an option for “User Management.” Click it, and it will prompt you for your root password (or sudo user password if you use Kubuntu).
Update: It has been brought to my attention that the User Management module in Kubuntu is not an official KDE module. Therefore, only Kubuntu and any other distros that have adopted its kcm-userconfig module will work for these instructions. I will soon provide separate instructions for other distributions.
Managing User Accounts
By default, the User Management control module will only show user-level users and no system-level users. These are users controlled by real people, and they are most likely the only ones you will need to access. If you do need to see system users, you can check the “Show System Accounts” box to reveal them.
Select the first user in the list and look at the “details” section below the user box. It will show the login name, the UID (user identification), the primary group, and secondary groups. The primary group is usually the user’s own group and may even be the exact same word as the user’s login name. No other users will belong to this group, so files owned by this group are only accessible by this user.
The secondary groups give the user special permissions for specific tasks or applications. For example, the “cdrom” group gives the user the ability to access the CD-ROM drive without being an administrator. The “admin” group allows the user to escalate to root or administrative access when needed by entering a password.
To change any of these settings for a current user, click “Modify…” From here, you can disable a user you no longer want to have access, assign a new user ID, change the user’s primary group, or set the user’s home directory.
Under the “Privileges and Groups” tab, KDE has an easy privileges tool to help you determine what rights you want the user to have. For example, checking “Use CD and DVD Drives” will automatically add the user to the appropriate groups. If you need to manually add the user to a specific group, use the right column.
Under the “Password and Security” tab, you can change the password, set the length of time for which the password is valid (requiring the user to change it when it expires), or even set it to completely disable the user account after it expires.
Clicking “OK” will finalize your user modification and take you back to the main user management window. From there, you can add a new user, which presents you with the same dialog as the user modification. You can also delete a user, a process which removes a user from your system.
KDE’s user management tool also has a second tab for groups, giving you full access to all of the groups on your system. You can create user groups and even use it to add multiple users to the same group at once.
Taking Control of Your System
KDE User Management is only one of the ways that KDE makes it easier for Linux and Unix users to take control of their systems. For system administrators accustomed to command line tools, like those provided on VPS servers by 34SP.com, these graphical tools have familiar terminology that should help them easily adapt their skills to graphical system administration. For more KDE help, see the KDE Userbase online.
About the author: Tavis J. Hampton is a librarian and freelance writer from Indianapolis, Indiana. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets. Read more from this author
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