Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound
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.
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 GUI versions a mere year old seem outdated and uncomfortable when compared to what we have today.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!