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Chapter 4. Customizing Your Desktop in GNOME and KDE

Both GNOME and KDE offer you plenty of ways to add your own personality to your workspace. Each environment provides powerful control centers, which let you to change the way your workspace looks, sounds, and more.

Both control centers offer quite a few options for you to modify. For more detailed instructions on using them, you should click on their Help buttons or read the related documentation from the environments' help browsers.

Customizing with the GNOME Control Center

You can start the GNOME Control Center from the Main Menu Button (Programs => Settings => Gnome Control Center).

You can also start the GNOME Control Center from the panel, by clicking on the icon, which looks like:

Changing the Background

When the GNOME Control Center first starts, it will look like Figure 4-1.

Figure 4-1. The Background Category in the GNOME Control Center

The GNOME Control Center is divided into two panels. On the left, you'll find categories, and on the right, (the main panel), you will see the corresponding elements that you can modify in each category. The categories may be collapsed when you first open the control center. Click on the + to expand the categories.


Preview Your Changes


Not sure you'll be happy with your selections? Click on the Try button to see what your desktop will look like with your changes. If you don't like it, just click on the Revert button to return to your original settings.

To change your desktop's background, click on the Background category. You'll see your current desktop background in the preview screen of the main panel.

In the Color section of the Background screen, you can determine whether your desktop has a solid or gradient (blended colors) background.

For a solid background, click on the drop-down menu and choose Solid. Click on Primary Color and the Pick A Color palette appears. Choose a color by clicking on it in the color palette. You can move the slider bars on the right side of the right side of the screen to make choices and adjustments as well. Once you find a color you like, click on OK.

If you choose Horizontal or Vertical Gradient from the drop-down menu, you'll want to choose a Primary and Secondary Color.

If you want something a little more expressive, try adding wallpaper to your desktop.

By default, there are no wallpaper choices available when you click on the drop-down menu under Wallpaper. Click on Browse and choose the directory that contains saved wallpaper images to view your wallpaper options. Select one of these files and click on OK, or just double-click on the file name, to add the file to the drop-down menu.

You can arrange the wallpaper on your desktop in the following ways:

  • Tiled  The image is repeated across the desktop.

  • Centered  The image is centered on the desktop, surrounded by your chosen background color or gradient.

  • Scaled (keep aspect)  The image is scaled to fit as much of the screen as possible without distorting the image.

  • Scaled  The image is stretched to fit the entire screen.

  • Embossed Logo  The background image is the default Red Hat logo.

You can deselect the option to Use GNOME to set background if you would prefer to set the background in another way (such as through your window manager's configuration program).

Changing the Theme

You can change the look and feel of your workspace with themes. The appearance of your panel, text boxes, buttons, and other visual elements will be coordinated with the theme you select.

To change your current theme, click on the Theme Selector in the category panel.

Figure 4-2. The Theme Selector Category

The right panel is divided into sections which allow you to select a new theme, preview its effect, and modify the default font that theme will use (see Figure 4-2).

If you select the Auto Preview option, you will be able to preview what the theme will look like in the Preview section. If the option is not selected, you can still preview the theme by clicking on the Preview button.


More Themes Are Available


If you do not see a theme you like, you can find more themes at, a repository for themes. To install a theme, download a theme from the website, then select the Install new theme button. In the dialog which opens, scroll to the name of the file you downloaded (which will probably be in your login directory, named something like New_theme.tar.gz). Left-click on the file name, then click the OK button. Your new theme will appear in the Available Themes section.

In the User Font section, click on the option to Use custom font, then click on the activated font box to open a new dialog which will let you select a different font on such items as the menu and Tasklist.

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