Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

In part 3 of his series on Linux and the laptop, Jay explains how to get GNOME configured, sound modules working and its appearance changed.
GNOME's Appearance

GNOME itself has many different aspects to alter in regard to visual appeal. Although some users may find this a far-from-critical area and not spend much time on it, it should not be overlooked. With proper customization, a machine running GNOME 2.2 easily can rival any Windows box in terms of eye candy and graphical convenience. There is an infinite number of different ways to customize your GNOME workspace. The three basic things any GNOME user can change without much hassle are the GTK+ 2.0 theme, Metacity theme and the Nautilus theme. According to the GNOME theme control panel, these three translate to controls, window border and icons, respectively.

Installing new controls and window boarder themes is a simple process. You can download new themes from many locations on the Web. My old standby for GNOME-oriented themes is art.gnome.org. Most themes can be downloaded as a tar.gz file. You can install them using the GNOME theme manager located in your Applications menu through Desktop Preferences, Themes. Once in the theme manager, use the Install Theme button to choose the theme element in question. This installer uncompresses it and installs the new theme element into the .themes directory underneath your home directory. Now, if you restart your GNOME session, you should see an option for the new theme element in the Themes panel.

A bug in GNOME 2.2.1 affects adding Nautilus themes with the Theme control panel. New icon themes are supposed to be copied into the .icons directory, but they actually are being copied to the .themes directory. As a result, after you restart the session your new icon theme is not available on the control panel. The fix for this is pretty simple: link the .icons directory to .themes.

ln -s ~/.themes ~/.icons

Another area of confusion is which themes should be downloaded to change the icons. At the art.gnome.org site you need to download the themes under the section Icon and not the themes under the section Nautilus. The easiest way to tell if a theme will work is, after you have installed it, look in its directory (~/.icons/$themename) for a file called index.theme. If the directory is missing index.theme, it's not going to work.

A Bright Future

The world of X GUIs has come a long way and is moving rapidly to whatever it is destined to become. GUI versions a mere year old seem outdated and uncomfortable when compared to what we have today. I attribute much of this progression to the healthy competition between Linux development and user communities. I don't think GNOME would be where it is today without KDE, and vice versa. Giving users a choice in their windowing environment is one of the many freedoms the Linux user base has come to embrace. So pick your GUI and enjoy!

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Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

jones_chap@yahoo.com

for 2.4.X kernels the CS4232 in config-2.4.X is not needed and incompatible as I checked it when inserting it as a module which failed during the initial module selection for bf24.

recompiled without it, worked

now trying alsa with 2.6.4 currently, need help, got sound but choppy
need to change sampling? rate?

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I have not been able to get GNOME working on my Debian laptop at all. I had GNOME 1.4 working fine, but when I tried to upgrade to 2.2, I got a series of errors about broken dependencies and locked files. I'd love to remove the GNOME 2.2 files and start over, but I have no idea how to do that.

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

Hi there!! I'm just gettin' nuts with the sound stuff!!! I did not have any trouble with the r6 when it came to sound (I'm a recording engineer),so I'll apreciate any help on this matter either with alsa configuring or OSS (it just don't "see" my sound card and don't have the /dev/dsp)

System Settings folder is empty?

Anonymous's picture

Followed the article instructions for installing gnome 2.2, but I'm disappointed to find the StartHere::SystemSettings folder empty. I expected to see some of the nifty controls described in April 2003 LJ article, "The Gnome2 desktop environment" by Russell Dyer.

Do I apt-get some pkgs to change network IPs, or reconfig Xwin, etc?

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I appreciate this series of articles as I've had some trouble getting some distros to work on my Dell Inspiron 2650. May I suggest, especially for newbies, Xandros Linux 1.0? It's a Debian Woody-based system, very stable, and does an excellent job of configuring even many laptops without having to edit config files. I love Debian, too, but not everyone will want to delve so deeply into their OS until they are more experienced.

Patrick

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I've also found debian libranet to be great with hardware

recognition

Xfree on IBM Thinkpad

Anonymous's picture

You know if you have a Thinkpad and you want that third button to work like it does on windows, where when you hold it down you can control scrolling of applications I suggest you use this in your XFree config file as the TrackPoint input device.

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "TrackPoint"
Driver "mouse"
Option "Protocol" "PS/2"
Option "Device" "/dev/mouse"
Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"
Option "EmulateWheel" "true"
Option "EmulateWheelButton" "2"
EndSection

With that added I can hold down that blue button and move the trackpoint up and down to get scroll action, it's pretty sweet I suggest you try it.

http://cosi.clarkson.edu/

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

>> Now, if you restart your GNOME session, you should see an option for the new theme element in the Themes panel.

I've never tried to install a theme using that install button, but shouldn't it automatically get installed _without_ restarting the session?

Sounds a bit strange to me to restart a session just for getting to see a new theme in the theme panel.

(I don't see any reason why that should have to be done)

(perhaps the author of this article wasn't running FAM correctly?)

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

Hi
I am facing problem while playing the sound files on my laptop.
I could see my sound card getting detected but when I attampt to play any type of sound file say mp3 I am not able to listen any sound. Even I could not able to listen the test files like info.wav which are present on system by default.
I have gone through the article and like to seek the opinion of experts to get something positive to be able to listen sound on my laptop. I am not that much expert to alter kernal to get it working for me.
Following are the system configuration on my laptop.
kernal - Linux version 2.6.8.1-10mdksmp (nplanel@n3.mandrakesoft.com) (gcc version 3.4.1 (Mandrakelinux (Alpha 3.4.1-3mdk)) #1 SMP Wed Sep 8 16:41:52 CEST 2004
Arch - Intel x86
Sound card detected - intel8x0 82801DB ICH4
Module - snd-intel8x0
file /etc/modules.conf is empty
No file /etc/modules/aliases present.
audio group is present.
All files in /dev/sound are owned by prasad user and audio group.
I am using user - prasad.
ESD version is 0.2.35

Do I need to add the lines specified in /etc/modules.conf

-Prasad.

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I usually install a theme by clicking on the install button, and it works flawlessly (assuming the theme itself is correct) *without* having to logout and in again.

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