HowTO: Simply Stunning Linux Desktop

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Now, the time has come for me to reveal exactly how to achieve this desktop layout from a fresh Ubuntu install. It’s not actually that hard, and you’ll only need one piece of additional software.

Step One

Remove the top panel, by simply right clicking in an empty space (usually between the “System” menu and the Clock on a fresh install) and choosing “Delete this panel” on the menu that appears. Now right click the bottom panel and click “New Panel” so you get an empty, fresh one. So you’ll have one empty panel, and one bottom one. Delete the bottom one using the same method as the top, and drag your new panel to the bottom of the screen.

Now, you’ll have a background image and whatever your desktop holds, with an empty bottom panel. Now, right click that panel, and choose “Properties”. On the window that pops up, enter the “Background” tab and choose “Solid Color” now, click the color specified automatically in order to change it, and where you can specify a hex code in the “Color Name:” area, type/paste: “#EFEBE7″. Click “OK”

Drag the transparency slider so it’s above the “spar” part of transparent. Now, alter transparency to suit your needs, and click “Close”

Step Two

Right click your new, transparent panel and choose “Add to Panel…”

Scroll through the icons that appear in the popup and click/drag them to the following places:

.“Main Menu” drag out of the window onto the far left of the panel.

.“Workspace Switcher” should then be hard up against the right side of the main menu (to make it smaller, right click the switcher once it’s on the panel, and choose preferences. Then, make sure it says “2 rows” instead of “1 rows”)

.“Window List” can then be placed hard up against the right edge of the Workspace Switcher.

.“Clock” can go into the far right corner

.“Volume Control” against the left edge of the clock

.“Network Monitor” against the left edge of the volume

.“Notification Area” against the left edge of the Network Monitor

Once you’re happy with the layout of the panel, right click everything you’ve added to it and click “Lock to Panel” to prevent accidental dragging when clicking.

Step Three

Now I’m correct in thinking you’ve got a transparent panel with your icons laid out oh-so-well. However, you’re missing “Trash” on that bottom bar, remember? And you’ll want “Computer” up there in the top corner too.
Now, there are easy ways of doing this, and hard ways of doing this. I’ll share the easiest one I know.

Click here and install the .deb file you download. Once you’ve installed the file, click your new main menu in the bottom left corner, click “System Tools” and choose “GNOME Hide and Seek”, an application that lets you configure some of the hidden secrets in Ubuntu.

Click “Desktop” in the left menu of the Hide and Seek window that opens, then click the “Icons” tabs. Make sure the boxes of “Computer icon visible on desktop” and “Wastebasket visible on desktop” are ticked. (Wastebasket may also be called trash, deleted items, etc. depending on the language settings and version of your Ubuntu setup)

Assign names if required, or leave as Computer and Wastebasket (I prefer “Trash”) and close the window. Head to the desktop, and move the new icons to where you wish.

Step Four

To make your terminal window transparent, as shown in the screen shot above, simply open a terminal window “Menu/Applications > Accesories > Terminal” click “Edit” and choose “Current Profile…”

In the window that appears, click the “Effects” tab, and look at the bottom for the transparency slider, where you can adjust the transparency to suit your needs.

Step Five

That’s it. Once you’ve chosen a similar wallpaper (the one in the screenshot above can be found when installing Kubuntu, or can be downloaded from here) your desktop should look as good as mine did back then.

Please leave a comment letting me know how you got on, or whether this guide helped you. Hopefully you should have no problems following these simple instructions but if you do, simply mention in a comment what error/problem you’re getting to and I’ll get right on to helping you.