Some Simple Gnome Customizations

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To perform the customizations I mention in this thread, you need a certain package. In the main menu, go to System > Administration > Add/Remove Software. In the newly opened window, type gconf-editor into the search box. When it's done searching, tick the checkbox for the package it found, then click Apply at the bottom right of the window. Once the package is installed, close the Add/Remove Software window. In the main menu, go to System Tools > Configuration Editor. This is where you will make most of the following customizations.

Nautilus Browser Mode

The Fedora team has Nautilus open a new window when you open a folder. I found this behavior extremely annoying, but with the new software it is easily fixed. One the left side of the Configuration Editor, browse to /apps/nautilus/preferences/. On the right, tick the checkbox beside always_use_browser. (From hereon, for the sake of brevity, I will refer to such settings using shorthand. Using shorthand, I would say, "Tick the checkbox for /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser". Please keep this in mind when reading other customizations.) Once you have ticked that checkbox, you have solved that problem.

Disable Desktop Icons

Desktop icons are drawn by Nautilus. These are helpful, but they require Nautilus to stay in memory the entire time you use your computer. To reduce the memory footprint of your system, you can configure Nautilus such that you can use it to navigate through folders and open files but have it terminate when you close all the Nautilus windows instead of lingering in memory to handle the desktop icons. (The files saved to your desktop can be access through /home/Desktop.) To do this, tick the checkbox for /apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop.

Panel Autohide Behavior

You can make your panels autohide themselves rather easily. Unfortunately, several options exist and an interface isn't provided to change them. With Configuration Editor, you have easy access to change them.

When a panel autohides, a small visible strip remains for you to touch with your mouse cursor to make the panel visible again. You can change the size (in pixels) of that strip by changing /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel/auto_hide_size for the bottom panel and /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel/auto_hide_size for the top panel. (The smallest size allowed is 1 pixel. You can specify 0, but it will be ignored.)

Before a panel hides or unhides, there is a delay. This is not because of poor performance but because of an intentional delay of 500 milliseconds (if I recall correctly), which you can reduce to a more comfortable value. For the bottom panel, you can set the hide delay in /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel/hide_delay and the unhide delay in /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel/unhide_delay. For the top panel, you can set the hide delay in /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel/hide_delay and the unhide delay in /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel/hide_delay.

By default, the hiding and unhiding of the panel is animated rather than instant. To change this for the top panel, untick the checkbox for /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel/enable_animations. For the bottom panel, untick the checkbox for /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel/enable_animations.

Main Menu Icon Size

If the Main Menu icons are too large for you, make them smaller by editing the theme you are using.

In your Main Menu, go to System Tools > Terminal. If you're using Ubuntu, type sudo nautilus, then enter your password. If you're using Fedora, type su - (the dash is not a typo), enter your password, then type nautilus. If you're using something other than Fedora or Ubuntu, you probably know what to do. If you don't, then ask. I'm sure someone will be able to tell you.

In Nautilus, browse to /usr/share/themes/. Here, you will find a folder for each theme you have installed. Open the folder for the theme you are using, then open the gtk-2.0 folder. Open the gtkrc file using gedit or whatever editor you're comfortable with. Put gtk-icon-sizes = "panel-menu=16,16" at the top of the file and save. If you reapply the theme, your icons will now be 16x16, rather than 24x24.

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Cool, will try on my ubuntu box when i get back to work.

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I was worried that the information I provided might be a bit too basic and generally unuseful, so I'm glad to see that it will find some use :)

Here's a screenshot of my system. As you might be able to guess, I like the minimalist look ;)


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