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Brandon’s Desktop

 

When I agreed to post on Linux FUD as a regular contributor, one of Kevin’s first requests was that I post a screenshot of my desktop. At first, I thought this was a rather strange request, but then again, this is a great way for you to get to know me a little better. So, here it is…

Brandon’s Ubuntu Desktop

The background image changes on occasion, though I keep coming back to this one time and again. Ubuntu is based on Debian, so I really don’t mind displaying the logo. I have an affection for still life photography, and in my opinion this shot is well framed and rich in color. I am also a bit of a coffee snob. The white bands on the top and bottom provide a nice, clean backdrop for symlink and launcher icons (i.e. shortcuts to directories and programs respectively).

It may strike you as odd that my toolbars are docked on the left, and not in the typical top (Gnome) or bottom (Windows) positions. This is a byproduct of using a laptop. My screen resolution is 1280 X 768, and the toolbars take up valuable desktop real estate when in either of these other two positions. The semi-transparency of the skinny toolbar is purely for aesthetics, and I think it contrasts quite well with the horizontal black bars.

Besides the file browser and terminal, open applications include the XMMS media player (my personal favorite) and Gweled, an Open Source version of Bejeweled by PopCap/Microsoft. I also opened the weather forecast desklet for eye candy.

And in case you were wondering, yes, this is Ubuntu 5.10, Breezy Badger. I hope to have time in my schedule for an upgrade to 8.04.

Cheers!

-Brandon

 

SCREENSHOT: March 4, 2007 – Dark and Fresh Ubuntu Linux

Well, here is my new Ubuntu Linux desktop. I’ve worked quite a bit on it, I am proud of it, and comfortable with it. What makes it complete is also what you cannot see in the screenshots. Read on to find out more…

I changed from this theme to the darker theme below when I finally replaced my CRT monitor for an LCD monitor. My CRT would never have made this theme usable; it would have been too dark to read anything. Therefore, if you have a CRT monitor and look at my screenshots and think that they’re too dark for you, it’s time you replace your monitor, cause holy smokes LCDs are WAY better! I even spent a lot of time customizing my Windows XP to a darker theme. I’ll post a screenshot of that desktop soon.

I also find that my new theme goes really well with the new Linux FUD WordPress theme called Freshy. Which brings me to names. I don’t know what to call this Desktop, though. It’s kinda Vista-y and Fresh. Maybe Freshta? Hehe… Freshta. I’ll have to sleep on that. 😉

Let me know what you think:

Bare:
screenshot-bare-2007-03-04.png 1680 x 1050 – PNG

Busy – Amarok & Kopete:
screenshot-amarok-kopete-2007-03-04.png1680 x 1050 – PNG

Busy – Nautilus & Terminal
screenshot-nautilus-terminal-2007-03-04.png1680 x 1050 – PNG

UPDATE (2007.03.08): You can rate this Desktop on the Ubuntu Forums Gallery HERE.

Here are the details of, er, Freshta.

  • Wallpaper: “My Very Own Vista
  • Gnome Controls and Window Borders: Neutronium
  • Icon Theme: Amaranth (not sure if this came with Ubuntu/Gnome or if I installed it myself)
  • Dock Bar: gDesklets StarterBar with the background taken from the Neutronium theme.
  • Other icons used for the StarterBar, my gnome panels, and the desktop were gathered mainly at deviantArt and doing Google Image searches for icons.
  • Font: Segoe UI from Microsoft Vista and Office 2007
  • CPU temperatures and fan speeds: gkrellm
  • Analog clock: gDesklets FTB-clock
  • Network information: FTB-net-gauge
  • Amarok and Kopete: color schemes were changed by manually changing the color theme in my KDE desktop

What you don’t see also makes a big difference in the overall theme flow that makes it comfortable to use. For example, I use the Avio-GDM GDM Theme (sometimes the DarkCleanLinux GDM) and the DarkCleanLinux Splash theme. For the desktop background color, I use a Vertical Gradient with the following colors in Hex: #373737 and #000000 (Black), respectively; they go well with the splash when Ubuntu is loading. Other GTK colors were manually changed.

Check out all of my desktop screenshots.

How to Change the Color of Gnome Panel Text, Handles, Buttons, and More

An issue you will run into when customizing your Ubuntu/Gnome system and playing with themes is not having an easy way to change the color of your text and other aspects of your panels. The gnome-theme-manager applet doesn’t have those options, yet. Not being able to change the color is a problem when using transparency or dark themes; the default color for text is black.

But there *is* an easy way to change the color of your panels’ text, handles, window list button colors (hover, active, and normal), background, etc.

Don’t believe me? Brent Roosshowed us how last year . UPDATE: You can find instructions here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=334747

Smart Quotes versus Straight QuotesMy only addition to his post is that you must change all the double-quotes when you paste the information to the file in your home folder by typing them in again. Why? Because WordPress’s format for quotes is to use smart quotes instead of straight quotes (see picture) and your changes won’t work if you don’t manually change them all to straight quotes.

Also, play around with the different options in that file by un-commenting the lines (removing the #) and changing the hex color code. You will find that you can change the colors for many different aspects of your panels. Just remember that you must do a ‘killall gnome-panel’ or use a “Refresh GUI” button every time you change and save the file.

You may also want to change the color of your tooltips.

Take a look at my Gnome Panels below (click to enlarge). I was able to change the text color from the default black so I can read it against my dark theme. By playing around with the other color options in the .gtkrc-2.0 file, I was also able to change the window list button hover color (Amarok) and the active color (The Gimp). The normal buttons (Kopete and Swiftfox) are simply from the theme itself, but they are changeable, too.  You can also see that my tooltip color was changed (Amarok).

Gnome Panel Color Changes

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Add a “Refresh/Reload GUI” Button to your Gnome Panel

Your first thought when reading the title of this post is probably, “WTF? Why would I need that?” Gnome Black LogoWell, if you’re like me and you love customizing your Gnome system, you’ll know that during your customizations, you have to reload this and reload that for your new changes to take effect. Sometimes its simply because a change you did caused some problems and something didn’t load correctly. Whatever it is, most of the time it requires you to use the killall command in the terminal.

This is common enough for the Gnome panels and for Nautilus since it draws and handles the desktop by default. I was tired of pulling up a terminal window and typing in the killall commands to “refresh” my GUI or Desktop or repeating them if I had already ran them previously. Not that it takes that long to do. I just wanted a quick “button” I can click that will do it automatically.

So I did it myself. Not very complicated, really. Actually, it’s not complicated at all. 🙂

  1. Right-click the panel or drawer you want the button to be situated
  2. Select “Add to Panel…” and the “Add to Panel” window will open
  3. Click on the “Custom Application Launcher” at the top of the window
  4. In the Launcher Properties, select “Application in Terminal” as a Type
  5. Name it “Refresh GUI
  6. For the command, type in: “killall gnome-panel nautilus” without the quotes
  7. For the comment, type in: “Reloads the panels and the desktop (Nautilus).” or whatever you want. 😉
  8. Click on the “No icon” button and choose an icon of your choice.
  9. Click close and you’re done

Now, whenever you need to reload/refresh your Desktop, you can simply click on your brand-spanking new shiny button!

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How to Reset Ubuntu/Gnome Settings to Defaults without Re-installing

As a new user, there comes a time (or there will come a time) when you are playing around with Ubuntu/Gnome, trying different themes, different engines, different window managers, etc, and all of a sudden you run into a problem that you can’t seem to find a way to fix it.

Computer FrustrationMaybe some of your customized settings are causing your gnome-panel to crash all the time or causing your windows and applications to look ugly, even having window buttons (close, minimize) disappear. You start Googling and spending a lot of time – sometimes days – trying to find how you can fix it.

You are frustrated (sometimes hitting your monitor/tower yelling some vulgarities at it as if it understands and you will kill it if it doesn’t fix it… there’s no Valentine’s love there, that’s for sure) and are ready to go back to Microsoft Windows.

But wait!

You keep thinking, “I wish I could just reset it back to its defaults, like a clean install, without losing all my applications and data.”

Well, you’re in luck. There is a way to reset your Desktop settings back to their defaults. If you keep in mind that everything in Linux is a file, all of its settings are files. All of Gnome’s customizations are located in their own specific folders. And these settings are user specific; they are in your Home folder. If you would create another user and log in with that user, you wouldn’t have any of the problems you are having in your own account. If you remove all these folders, you essentially remove all the settings. Therefore, we will remove the folders needed to reset Ubuntu/Gnome back to its defaults.

UPDATE (2008.01.30): Keep in mind that this will only reset your Gnome-specific settings. If you are having problems with your video card, display, x-server, etc., this WILL NOT fix your problems.

If you don’t have access to your graphical (GUI) desktop to delete these folders in Nautilus or you’re stuck at the login screen, drop to a terminal by hitting CTRL + ALT + F1, login to your account, and run this command:

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity

Get back to your GUI desktop by hitting CTRL + ALT + F7.

Login and VOILÀ! Just like the first time you ever logged into your Gnome desktop.

How to Change the Color of your Tooltips

With all the customization fun I’ve been having with my Ubuntu Desktop, one thing kept bugging me. There isn’t an easy way to change the color of the tooltips. I think this is important to have a consistent color scheme throughout your desktop so I went to find a solution.

I found the answer on the Ubuntu Forums yet again, posted by mcduck.

UPDATE: This may also work in other distributions, not just Ubuntu, since it is a GTK setting.

UPDATE: This seems to only work in Ubuntu 6.10 or lower. People have reported that it does not work in Feisty Fawn (7.04).

Now, when changing the color of the tooltips, it’s important to note that this will change it for ALL themes.

To change the color of the tooltips, do this:

  1. gedit ~/.gtkrc-2.0
  2. Copy and paste the following lines in that file:

    style “tooltip” { bg[NORMAL] = “#FFFFFF” }
    widget “gtk-tooltips” style “tooltip”

  3. Change the Hex code (#FFFFFF) to whatever color you want.
  4. Save the file.
  5. Log out and log back in (or do a CTRL+BACKSPACE). You can probably just do a Desktop Refresh:

    killall nautilus gnome-panel

    …and it may work. I haven’t tested it, though.
    …TESTED: It works. NOTE: You’ll have to change ALL the smart quotes ” to regular quotes after you paste. Just delete them and type in the quotes again. Then do another killall nautilus gnome-panel. (2007.02.12)

Test it by placing your mouse over the Date and Time applet.

Enjoy!

SCREENSHOT: November 26, 2006 – NBC’s Heroes Gnome Desktop

I am a HUGE fan of the new television series by NBC called Heroes. I created my own Theme for my Gnome desktop based on the show. Here are a couple of screenshots. I call her “Eclipse”:

NBC’s Heroes Gnome Theme: Eclipse1280 x 1024 – PNG

NBC’s Heroes Gnome Theme: Eclipse1280 x 1024 – PNG

Gnome (Ubuntu)

Click thumbnails to enlarge to full size.