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Article by Matt Hoy


Matt's idea of "simply stunning" may not be your cup of tea. I personally think this is awful, the dull grey window borders, the opaque panel separators, the volume bar in the notification area, the icon sizes in the panel, the application title bar etc. - and I am yet to see how it works in use (with an app or two up). I personally like the blue Elyssa GTK2 theme with the Community2 Emerald theme or the "Scaled Black" Emerald theme. Edit this page and put a request here and I'll make a page for it.



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

The response I got when I posted the desktop in the image above was huge. Around 10 emails per day flooded in for weeks, asking exactly how I achieved that look. And, everyone who asked was given a quick guide I wrote up in a few seconds, or a “Sorry, I’ll write back later” because I was too busy.

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.

Use your "Main Menu" to go to System/Preferences/Main Menu and select the folder "System Tools". There, activate "Configuration Editor" to be shown in the menu. Close the configuration window. Go to Applications/System Tools/Configuration Editor. In the "Configuration Editor" browse to /apps/nautilus/desktop/ and activate "computer_icon_visible" as well as "/apps/nautilus/desktop/trash_icon_visible". Close the "Configuration Editor". 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 > Accessories > 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 this link) 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.


Contact Matt Hoy: http://www.mbhoy.com/

First published in FullCircle magazine issue #3 under Creative Commons ShareAlike v3 Licence


SimplyStunningLinuxDesktop (last edited 2011-11-24 19:37:04 by 157-157-105-132)