A variety of tips and tricks for users of Linux with the Gnome desktop.
The default desktop has very large icons, as does the file viewer. To change this, open the file viewer by double-clicking on the "User's Home" folder icon on your desktop. On the menu of the window that opens, go to "Edit | Preferences". Under the "Views" category, change the "Default Zoom Level" of the "Icon View" and the "List View" to 75% (or whatever size you want). Note that the icons on the desktop and in the viewer change size immediately when you do this.
Now go to the "Windows" category. Make sure that under "New Window Display" that the "Display Side Pane" box is checked. This will make it easier to navigate between folders in the file viewer.
Next go to "Icon & List Views". Under "Show Options", make sure all of the boxes are selected. This will prevent the viewer from hiding any files from you.
Go to the "Side Panes" category and check all of the boxes under "Tabs". This also helps in folder navigation.
You can now close the file viewer. Your desktop icons may be a bit jumbled or have odd spacing; right-click on the desktop and choose "Clean Up By Name". This will tidy up and sort the desktop icons.
You will have noticed by now that the font size of the desktop icons is really big. To change this, go to "Preferences | Font" on the desktop menu. A window will open that lets you choose fonts and font sizes. The default desktop font size is 12; I suggest using 10, but you can pick whatever you like.
For some strange reason the default Linux desktop comes with a Macintosh style application bar across the top of the desktop. You can add a Windows type taskbar. Right-click on that top application bar and select "Add Panel", then select "Edge Panel". A large taskbar should appear across the bottom of the screen. Now right-click on that new taskbar and select "Properties". In the "Size" box choose "X Small" (or whatever size you like); I also recommend unchecking "Autohide" and "Show Hide Buttons". Click "Close".
Now we can actually put something on the new taskbar. Right-click on it again, choose "Add To Panel" and then choose "Gnome Menu". A little RedHat icon appears on the bar; if you click on it, the "start menu" appears. If you right-click on this icon and choose "Move", you can slide the icon over to the left-hand corner of the taskbar, just like in Windows.
You can add lots of stuff to the taskbar. You might experiment with the items in the "Add To Panel" menu.
For general help with Linux, please try The Linux Documentation Project. We offer a brief tutorial on local use of Linux for data analysis, while CERN has the official PAW Tutorial. For specific help, please contact Vince Needham or Kevin Carnes.
Last updated on Tuesday, 30-Sep-2008