10 Unique Tips to get Elegant Gnome Desktop

By Pratik Shivarkar | Labels: , , , , , ,

You can see many pretty Linux desktops every where on the internet.
but having a really cool desktop like shown in screenshot is not possible for everybody. Most of the time customizing the look and feel ends with a bulky desktop that you never thought of!

So I'm going to give you 10 tips to establish a elegant desktop.
That means, your desktop should be beautiful but also powerful.
Elegance is not achieved by adding Vista like Sidebar, Mac like DockBar, Heavy Compiz effects or anything even more stupid, like a system monitor to show off your system configuration X_X.

1. Say no to Desktop Icons.
Turn off the Nautilus Desktop. (If you don't know how to do it, look HERE). Tons of icons or files on your desktop spoils the whole look.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts or Panel Icons is a faster way.
For those people who can not live without icons/launchers on desktop, Can use nautilus or any other desktop manager. but don't put more than 3-4 launchers on desktop.

You can also make use of launcher applications like Gnome-DO. Gnome-DO is the one of the most powerful tool, you can use on Gnome Desktop.

2. Use Compiz more for features, less for effects.
The Compiz window manager have a greater number features than Metacity. Try not using Compiz for desktop effects like, wobbly windows, desktop cube/cylinder, fire effect, water effect etc.

Instead of that implement Compiz window management features like Grouping and Tabbing, Application Switching, Window Rules, Tile, Shelf or Edges.

By doing this you not just achieve the Eye-Candy effects but also very good Window Management features.

3. Using Avant/Cairo docks Or Gnome-Panel.
Gnome Panel provides the maximum functionality among all the dock programs for Gnome. Using Avant or CairoDock will add very good eye-candy effects, However these docks are not lightweight and also needs a screen compositor running for proper transparency.

If you decide to use these Avant or Cairo, then try to use it as your primary dock application, Add a Menu, System Tray and Custom launchers to it. Window list is available in those by default. If both of the panels have window list or menu..Its just waste of space. Try using only one panel for all your work.
If you are using Gnome-Panel don’t forget to theme it, if there is no panel background by default.
If your GTK theme does not have a default panel background, then you must get one!, leaving Gnome-Panels with defaults look hurts. You can change the panel background simply from panel properties, And from Gnome Color Chooser too.
You can get panel backgrounds on Gnome-Look.org

4. Do not make extra use of widget softwares like Screenlets or Google Desklets.
Only use those widgets which are necessary and really really 'useful' to you.

Filling the screen with Weather applets, Huge analog clocks, Flashy CPU/Memory meters, is childish and immature, Instead of that try to use Conky, a lightweight and highly configurable system monitor.
Sometimes its better not to use these software, as they are not resource friendly.. and they make your Linux desktop more like Windows Vista.

5. Keep open space
The more visible desktop is more elegant desktop. the corners and edges of your desktop should be cleanly visible.

  • Don't fill the desktop with junk.
  • Don’t put widgets or panels on every edge or corner.
  • Don't make use widgets that cover a big part of your desktop, specially on small monitors.
  • Utilize the features like ‘Hide/Close to Tray’ or ‘Auto hide’

6. Customize the Color Scheme
Try to use GTK themes using solid colors, for example GTK Themes which allows customizing the colors, because they provide the most clean lines and visibility, than a fanatic desktop.

Color scheme is the most important in every aspect. Make sure the colors you choose a decent amount of contrast, not to high or not to low.
Some basic color selection can be done using gnome-appearance-properties. but not in detail. so You can use Gnome Color Chooser to achieve this.

Selecting colors is easy task, but selecting good colors is not!..To get dirty with tons of good color schemes Visit Adobe Kuler This is your resource to thousands of eye catchy color schemes.

Also you can use Contrast-A, which requires Adobe AIR Runtime. Similarly you can get Adobe Kuler Desktop

7. Choose a proper Desktop Wallpaper.
Wallpaper is one of the most important aspect of your desktop.
Your wallpaper will be more visible when you will follow "Point 5". by this method, You can fully utilize the beauty of the wallpaper, when you are not running applications beauty of your desktop is completely dependant on the wallpaper.

Choice of Wallpaper is very important, Make sure it goes with scheme.
Abstract or Minimalistic wallpapers are a good choice for a Linux desktop. Only thing that have to match with theme is the color, But if you are using a Landscape wallpaper or something else. make sure your theme goes with wallpaper. Sometimes even simple gradients will look good on your desktop.
Here are some sites where you can get Wallpapers – Deviant Art, Gnome Look, VladStudio, Graffiti Wallpapers, Wallpapers Stock

8. Make use of Gnome Art Manager.
Gnome Art manager is a software to help you quickly install Metacity / GTK / GDM / Icons Themes or Even Wallpapers, Splash Screens from art.gnome.org

However not all the themes are very good. :)

9. Window Decorations
Selection of Window decoration is quite easy, If there is Metacity theme provided with your GTK theme, You should use that. Otherwise use customizable Metacity themes, which will adapt the 'Selection Color' from GTK theme. e.g. Themes like Metabox, Clearbox, Human, Murrine etc.
When you don’t use such themes, either use the same color as your window color or use complete contrast color.
You can also use the Emerald Window Decorator. which provides advanced window decorations than Metacity. Emerald provides extra animations and eye-candy effects but make sure it goes with your GTK theme, or it looks worse.
You can get Metacity and Emerald themes at Gnome-Look.org

10. Always save and share your custom themes
Why?, Save every good combination or theme you create. If you don’t save and share it with others. It will never evolve or improve. Submit your ideas to brainstorm.

About Icons
There are no important specifications for Icon Themes, just make sure you are using a suitable one. :)

Additionally, Enable font Sub-Pixel smoothing and hinting.
This options is enabled by default on most Distros.

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