Chapter 10: Personalizing Ubuntu: Getting Everything Just Right

An excerpt from Beginning Ubuntu Linux: From Novice to Professional by Keir Thomas, published by Apress.
Creating a Link

Although you can create a link to a program, which will then work the same as a launcher, links are usually used to create shortcuts to files. If you then double-click the shortcut, the application associated with that file type will open the file. If you create a shortcut to a picture, for example, when you double-click it, the Eye of GNOME previewer will start.

To create a link, locate the file you want to create the link to, right-click it, and select Make Link. Then copy the new link to wherever you want it to appear, such as the desktop. You don't need to choose an icon, because the link inherits the icon of the original file. For example, if it's a picture link, it will inherit the thumbnail preview icon.

Note: If you find the Make Link option grayed out, it's likely that you don't have sufficient permissions to write the link to the directory in question.

Adding and Removing Menus

You can add either the Applications menu or the entire set of menus (Applications, Places, and System) to the bottom of the screen. This can help those who long for the Windows Start button approach to access programs.

Adding All the Menus to a Panel

To add the Application, Places, and System menu to the Panel at the bottom of the Ubuntu desktop, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click a blank spot on the bottom Panel and select Add to Panel.

  2. In the dialog box that appears, click the Menu Bar option to add all three menus.

  3. Click the Add button at the bottom of the dialog box.

Adding the Applications Menu to a Panel

When you add just the Applications menu, it appears as a single icon. To move it to the bottom-left side of the desktop, in the same location as the Windows Start menu, you need to delete and then re-create the Show Desktop icon and the Window List. Here are the steps:

  1. Right-click a blank spot on the bottom Panel and select Add to Panel.

  2. In the dialog box that appears, click the Main Menu option.

  3. Click the Add button at the bottom of the dialog box.

  4. Right-click the Window List's grab bar and select Delete.

  5. Right-click the Show Desktop icon and select Delete.

  6. Right-click the new menu icon, select Move, and relocate it to the bottom left.

  7. Right-click the Panel and select Add to Panel.

  8. In the Desktop & Windows category, select Window List, and then click Add.

  9. Repeat steps 7–8 to add the Show Desktop button.

When you're finished, the Applications menu should appear as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. If you just can't do without that Start button, you can re-create one on your Ubuntu desktop.

Deleting a Menu

Creating new instances of the menus won't delete the old ones. If you create a new Applications menu at the bottom of the screen, for example, the old Applications menu will remain at the top of the screen. In fact, you can have as many instances of the menus on the desktop as you wish, although this won't be a good use of desktop space!

To delete any menu, simply right-click anywhere on that menu and select Remove from Panel.

Give Me My Trash Can!

The developers who designed Ubuntu's desktop decided to keep the desktop clean of icons. This included relegating the Wastebasket icon to its own applet at the bottom-right side of the screen. Many people find using the applet a little difficult and miss the desktop trash can icon, which has been present on Windows and Mac OS desktops for more than 20 years.

The good news is that it's easy to get the trash can back. Click Applications→System Tools→Configuration Editor. In the program window that appears, click the down arrows next to Apps, then Nautilus, and then Desktop. On the right side of the program window, put a check in the trash_icon_visible entry.

Alternatively, in the Configuration Editor, click Edit→Find and enter trash_icon_visible as a search term. Make sure that the Search Also In Key Names box has a check in it. Then click Find. The results will be listed at the bottom of the program window. Click the /apps/nautilus/desktop/trash_icon_visible entry. Then make sure there's a check in the trash_icon_visible box.

Be careful when using the Configuration Editor program. It lets you configure just about every aspect of the GNOME desktop and doesn't warn you when you're about to do something devastating, so the potential for accidental damage is high!



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Ya Linux is awesome i am

Jack's picture

Ya Linux is awesome i am running a dual boot of vista and ubuntu... linux is great so far how can i customize more any websites anyone can direct me too

On Ubuntu Edgy use this

Anonymous's picture

On Ubuntu Edgy use this command for configuring font:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config

You should mention which

Jaques Haas's picture

You should mention which version of Ubuntu you're using. I'm using 6.10, and lots of the tools you describe aren't where you say they are. For example, I have no configuration editor. A few other things too.

Good guide though, and thanks.

The configuration editor is

Anonymous's picture

The configuration editor is there, you just need to add it to the menu bar. I believe if you go to the menu and click add, you will be able to select it.

Ubuntu Rocks. Who Needs Windows Vista

Comp keyboard's picture

Windows Vista is going to launch pretty soon, but I am definitely not excited about that. Who want to pay extra hundreds dollars when you can get ubuntu for free and more stable operating system?

ugh...not vista

Durand's picture

well, im glad im not the only one who thinks like that!