Network Transparency with KIO
The smb kioslave included with KDE lets you browse Microsoft Windows smb file shares. It requires that you install libsmbclient. If you navigate to smb:/ in Konqueror (or use the nifty Alt-F2 shortcut described below), you will be shown any Windows workgroups found, and you can browse through them for the host you want. You also can specify a host or a specific share of a host directly with:
Like fish, if you don't specify a user name, Konqueror prompts you for a user name and password pair that you can save with KWallet. If you always use a particular user name/password pair on your Samba network, rather than having to save passwords individually for every host you access, you can configure this to be supplied automatically by KDE. In the KDE Control Center, navigate to Internet & Network→Local Network Browsing. Here you can enter the default user name and password pair you want KDE to use for its Samba client.
As well as adding shortcuts to the File dialog, you also can add desktop shortcuts to hosts you want to access frequently. To create a desktop shortcut to an smb URL, right-click on the KDE desktop and select Create New→Link to Location (URL)... from the context menu. Fill in the smb:// (or fish) URL to the share to which you want to create the shortcut in the box labeled Enter link to location (URL):. KDE fills in the filename box with a suitable name, or you can choose your own. Click OK and you're done.
As well as accessing kioslaves through the Konqueror address bar and KDE standard file dialogs, you can load kioslaves quickly with the KDE Run Command box. Try pressing Alt-F2 to bring up the Run Command box, and type help:/kwrite. A Konqueror window is launched showing you the KWrite Handbook. This works with all kioslaves and is a handy way of looking up help pages or loading a remote URL quickly, if, like me, you tend to have a rather cluttered screen.
Many other interesting kioslaves are included with KDE, and you can download other third-party efforts from kde-apps.org as source code that can be compiled against a recent KDE version. To find them, search for “kio” on the KDE-apps.org search page. If you want to compile the kioslaves you've downloaded, you need to have a working C++ compiler and the appropriate development libraries for KDE and Qt installed. Usually these are packaged separately from the KDE runtime libraries.
To find out which kioslaves you have installed, type help:/kioslave in the Run Command box or the Konqueror address bar. This is the KDE help kioslave, which lets you access the help documentation for installed KDE programs through Konqueror. Some of the more interesting kioslaves include:
cgi: this kioslave executes CGI programs without needing to have a running Web server. It is really handy for off-line local testing of CGI scripts.
locate: Kubuntu includes kio-locate by default, and you can download the sources for other distributions from KDE-apps.org. kio-locate is a kioslave for locate or slocate. Typing locate: query term into any KIO-enabled field displays the results from the locate database. This is immensely convenient when combined with the File dialog. Want to open that budget spreadsheet in KSpread, but you realise you can't quite remember where you saved it until after you've launched the application? Without having to leave the File dialog, locate:/ comes to the rescue.
tar: this kioslave allows you to browse the contents of tar, tar.bz2 and tar.gz archives. It's registered as the default handler for these files within KDE. This lets every KDE application handle loading and saving files to archives transparently without needing to extract them. With previews enabled, it's easy to find the single file that you want out of the hundreds or even thousands in the archive.
zip: this kioslave lets you browse the contents of zip archives, much like the tar kioslave does for tar archives.
info/man: the info and man kioslaves provide a friendly interface to reading man and info pages. The info kioslave in particular makes navigating pages much easier with a mouse-driven browser interface that's more simple to use than the command-line tool.
audiocd: this kioslave provides a simple interface for ripping and encoding files from music CDs to Ogg, MP3 or flac using drag and drop.
Konqueror is an application with amazing flexibility as both a Web browser and file manager, due mostly to its extensibility with kioslaves. The kioslaves featured above are barely the tip of the iceberg. Experiment with those listed in help:/kioslave to see what else Konqueror can do.
Jes Hall is a KDE developer from New Zealand who is passionate about helping open-source software bring life-changing information and tools to those who would otherwise not have them. She welcomes comments sent to email@example.com.
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