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Ubuntu Hacks by Bill Childers, Kyle Rankin, Jonathan Oxer

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Hack #21. Tweak Your Desktop Like a Pro

Customize your desktop environment, and find a few things you never knew you needed, like a pop-up Quake-style terminal, automatic wallpaper shuffling, and dashboard functionality.

The default Ubuntu GNOME environment is very streamlined and easy to use. Due to its ease of use, however, some of the "power user" features aren't included in the base install. KDE can also benefit from the same tweaking. Here's how to get more usability and features from Ubuntu.

Get Icons on Your Desktop

The default Ubuntu Dapper Drake desktop has no icons on it—which gives the system a very clean and simple look. If you're coming from Windows, you may miss the My Computer icon and other desktop icons in that OS. It's relatively simple to add them to Ubuntu; it just requires the use of a configuration editor called gconf-editor [Hack #15].

If you hit Alt-F2, the system will pop up a Run Application dialog. Type gconf-editor in that dialog and click Run. The Gconf configuration program will start. Select "apps" from the left pane; then select "nautilus" and "desktop." In the right pane, you will see several options, like "computer_icon_name" and "computer_icon_visible." If you click on the checkbox next to the "<name>_icon_visible" option (see Figure 2-20), Nautilus will spontaneously add that icon to your desktop. In this fashion, you can add icons for your computer, home directory, network places, documents, and wastebasket.

Figure 2-20. GConf showing the Nautilus ...

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