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   >  The Gnome GUI
   >  Customising Gnome Panels
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   >  Using Workspaces
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   >  Customising Menus


The Gnome Desktop

The Gnome Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Several flavours of Linux, principally Ubuntu and Fedora, use Gnome as their default desktop. Others, use KDE as their default, but either GUI can be run on most of the larger distros (-the very compact ones normally come with a lightweight GUI or a command line only).

The default Ubuntu Gnome desktop consists of three main areas ..

In this section, we'll take a tour of the Gnome desktop as supplied out of the box by Ubuntu 10.x and before. There are separate chapters for Ubuntu 11.04 and above plus Fedora.

When you first boot Ubuntu 10.x, the desktop will look something like the screenshot below:

The Gnome Desktop

The default Ubuntu Gnome desktop consists of three main areas:

  1. The top panel (-the grey bar at the top of the screen)

  2. The desktop (-the purple bit in the middle)

  3. The bottom panel (the grey bar at the bottom of the screen)

The Top Panel

The top panel can be divided into two main areas.

The menus (top left), comprising:

  1. Applications (-these are applications you install or Ubuntu supplies as standard, grouped by category; it's equivalent to the Windows Start → Programs option) :

    Applications Menu

  2. Places (-this is the equivalent of the Windows Explorer : allowing you to locate files and manipulate file on your discs) :

    Places Menu

  3. System (-allowing you to change settings and administer the system) :

    System Menu

  4. Any installed applications – such as the Firefox web browser shown here (-see the section on “Adding User Shortcuts to the Panel” for more details).

The Status bar (top right) comprising:

  1. Network connection status (-allows you to check your network connection, enable or disable connections, etc) : Network Status Icon

  2. Sound / Volume settings (-change or mute volume level, change sound preferences, etc): Sound / Volume Icon

  3. eMail / Chat and Broadcast (-configure and launch various communication technologies): eMail / Chat and Broadcast Icon

  4. Time / date / weather (-shows the weather and time, plus access to the calendar, task list, etc): Time / date / weather Icon

  5. Chat and Broadcast setup (-configure chat, broadcast and Ubuntu One accounts):eMail / Chat and Broadcast Icon

  6. Logon / Shutdown / Lock functions (-logout, switch user and shutdown/reboot PC, etc):Logon / Shutdown / Lock Icon

The Bottom Panel

The bottom panel can be divided into four main areas:

  1. Show Desktop Icon (-minimise all open windows to reveal the desktop) : Show Desktop Icon

  2. Open Applications (-this is the equivalent of the Windows taskbar and normally consists of the area to the left of the "Show Desktop" icon: click on the minimized icon to toggle between displaying the application window and minimizing it) :

    Open Apps Bar

  3. Workspaces (-allows you to place windows in one or more of four virtual desktops - and to switch between them. The orange rectangle indicates the workspace currently displayed) : Workspace Area

  4. Rubbish Bin (-a last chance to catch items for deletion and undelete them) :Rubbish Bin

All of the above are covered in the subsequent sections of this guide.

The Desktop

The desktop is normally blank, unless you add icons to it or you mount removable filesystems, such as CDs or USB memory sticks (-as shown below):

8Gb USB Filesystem mounted

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