Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop Customization Guide

By on February 26th, 2011 00:10 GMT

At the request of our readers we have decided to revive our old desktop customization tutorial for the Ubuntu OS (and other major Linux distributions powered by the GNOME desktop environment).

This step-by-step tutorial was created for the Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) operating system and it will teach you how to change the looks of your Linux desktop into an eye-candy, practical, simple and modern one. In other words, to pimp your desktop and change its looks:
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from this

to this


Things you need to get started:

1. Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) operating system (Desktop Edition);
2. Cairo-Dock;
3. Orta GTK2 Theme;
4. Faenza Icon Theme;
5. An amazing wallpaper.

Step 1 -

Installing Cairo-Dock

For this tutorial we have decided to use Cairo-Dock instead of AWN (Avant Window Navigator). Therefore we will install Cairo-Dock by using Ubuntu Software Center (Application -> Ubuntu Software Center)...
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...to search for Cairo-Dock...
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Enter your password when asked...
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Wait for the installation process to finish...
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...and close Ubuntu Software Center. That's it! Cairo-Dock is now installed, proceed to the next step.

Step 2 -

Cleaning the desktop

Right click on the bottom panel and select the "Delete This Panel" option...
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And now, let's replace it with Cairo-Dock. Here we have two choices:

1. Applications -> Accessories -> Cairo-Dock (no OpenGL) - recommended for users without video drivers and low-end machines.
2. Applications -> Accessories -> GLX-Dock (Cairo-Dock with OpenGL) - recommended for users with proper video drivers and high-end machines.
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You will immediately see the dock at the bottom of your screen, with a defaul configuration that many of you will find it quite attractive. However, you should take a look at the next step of our tutorial for advanced Cairo-Dock configuration.
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Now, remove everything from the right side of the upper panel (simply right click on each item and choose the "Remove From Panel" option, until they are all gone)...
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Next, remove everything from the left side of the upper panel (simply right click on each item and choose the "Remove From Panel" option, until they are all gone)...
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In order to make the panel disappear, right click on it and select "Properties"...
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On the "General" tab, check the "Autohide" option and set the Size to 20...
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On the "Background" tab select the "Solid color" option and drag the Style slide to "Transparent"...
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Click the "Close" button and the panel will disappear!

Step 3 -

Configuring Cairo-Dock

The Cairo-Dock configuration it's matter of choice and taste. You can right click on an empty space on the dock and choose "Cairo-Dock -> Configure"...
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From here you can add new themes, new plugins, change the effects and how the dock looks.
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Step 4 -

Install the Orta theme

Hit the ALT+F2 key combination on your keyboard, check the "Run in terminal" option and paste the following command in the "Run Application" dialog:

gksu add-apt-repository ppa:nikount/orta-desktop
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Enter your password when asked and hit the OK button. A terminal window will appear for a few seconds, and it will automatically close.

Hit the ALT+F2 key combination again, check the "Run in terminal" option and paste the following command in the "Run Application" dialog:

gksu apt-get update
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Enter your password when asked and hit the OK button. A terminal window will appear for a few seconds, and it will automatically close.

Hit the ALT+F2 key combination on your keyboard, check the "Run in terminal" option and paste the following command in the "Run Application" dialog:

sudo apt-get install orta-theme
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A terminal window will appear. Enter your password and hit Y when asked. Wait for the installation to finish.

Now right click on your desktop and choose "Change Desktop Background"...
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Go to the "Theme" tab and select "Orta"...
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Step 5 -

Install the Faenza icon theme

Just download the icon theme from here, and follow the author's instructions:

"Download the tar.gz file and extract it. In the new folder created, run the ./INSTALL script to choose the distribution logo (Ubuntu, by default) and the Gnome menu icon. If run as root, the script will copy the iconsets to /usr/share/icons to made them available to all users. Some default icons used by Rhythmbox and Dockmanager may be also replaced.
Run ./UNINSTALL as root to restore defaults icons."

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After the installtion, your icons will look like this...
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Please note that Cairo-Dock has to be restarted in order to see the new icons!

Step 6 -

Final touches

Remove the desktop switcher applet from the default theme, if you think it's annoying...
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Add that nice wallpaper (right click on your desktop -> Change Desktop Background)... and voilà, your Ubuntu desktop has been pimped and it can look like this...
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...or like this!
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From here on, let your imagination run wild and don't forget to drop a link with your own screenshots!

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