Changing Desktop Appearance On Linux Mint 11 (Advanced) - Page 2

5 Install GNOME Color Chooser

GNOME Color Chooser is a tool that lets you modify the colors of your current theme. Either get it in the Synaptic Package Manager or enter the following into a terminal as root:

apt-get install gnome-color-chooser

With this tool you have the option to apply the looks of your windows, menus, desktop icons, buttons and everything to the way you would like your desktop to look like. Simply run it through the Mint Menu, configure some colors, enable them, and click on Apply to see what they look like.


6 Install Docky

Docky is an Apple-like dock that is placable on any of the screens borders where you can put applications and folders onto to quick-access them. Remember that you need the nVidia proprietary drivers to do this!

To install, just access the Docky package in Synaptic Package Manager or enter following into a terminal as root:

apt-get install docky

On first startup there is not much placed in the dock, however there is a Docky icon with an anchor on it, which you can rightclick to configure it. To add new items to the dock, just drag and drop them onto it!


7 Install Screenlets

Screenlets are small visual applications comparable to widgets that you can place on your desktop to fulfill a certain function such as displaying time, processor load, calendar or the weather.

To install screenlets, either enter screenlets into Synaptic Package Manager's searchbar and follow the usual steps or enter

apt-get install screenlets

into a terminal logged in as root. On startup you will be shown a window with a selection of already preinstalled screenlets that you can instantly launch, however you also have the option to download new screenlets from the appropriate websites.

To add screenlets to your desktop, doubleclick them or select them and hit the Launch/Add button on the left. Then drag the screenlet to the location you want it to have. There you are free to Lock it by rightclicking and browsing the Window category. To install new screenlets, download the packed files from a website (such as the GNOME screenlet website) and click Install or Install New Theme to browse your files for the downloaded package.


8 Make The Panel's Opacity And Color Options Affect The Complete Panel

The default preferences of the control panel in the bottom of the screen allow you to either use a picture as its background image or to choose a color for it and lower its opacity if you use that action (access those by rightclicking free space on the panel and choosing Properties). If you color the panel however, not all elements of it will be colored but only the background, leaving all the buttons and backgrounds of panel icons grey.

Now there is an option that allows you to configure the panel even more, which involves editing its configuration text file. For that, open /usr/share/themes/Mint-X-Metal/gtk-2.0/Apps/panel.rc and replace Mint-X-Metal with the theme you want your panel to configure in. Inside the panel.rc file there are three values that are set equal "Panel/panelbg.png". Find these and comment out their lines by placing a # in front of the whole line. Switch to another theme and back afterwards to reload your edited theme. Now the panel will look approximately like this:

Although it has become more pleasing to the eye, there are still some annoying grey areas left if you use the Mint-X(-Metal) theme, while the others will look nice now. These areas originate from the imagefiles of the buttons, which are not completely transparent. The two options that you have if you still want to use one of these themes is to either disable the graphical buttons at all or to edit their borders to be completely transparent.

To disable the imagefiles of the buttons and display the tabs solely with their name and the application's icon, open the panel.rc file from before again and search the style sections for all values including Apps/Panel/button. Like before, comment the entire lines out by placing a # in front of them.

To make the borders of the button graphics transparent you will need to edit them manually with a graphical editor like The Gimp. The files are located in /usr/share/themes/Mint-X-Metal/gtk-2.0/Apps/Panel. Open them as administrator by rightclicking and choosing the appropriate action, then open them with an editor with the help of the control bar. Erase the colored transparent areas arount the actual buttons and save the files (The checkered area is the "table" beneath the image itself - it is only visible through transparent areas. You have to remove all color from the areas where this table shines through).

Then switch to another theme in the Control Center and back afterwards to use the updated theme. Your panel buttons should then either have their border removed or vanished completely, depending on which option you took.


9 Lower The Window Decorations' Opacity

By using this option you achieve something that looks quite like the glassy look of window decorations that Microsoft Windows uses since its Vista Version. Remember that you need the nVidia proprietary drivers to do this!

If you want your window decoration to be transparent, open a terminal and enter following as the user whose window decorations' opacity you want to lower (if it does not work properly you might have run it as root):


A graphical user interface will appear that helps you to modify all kinds of keys. The ones you are searching for is under Apps > gwd.

metacity_theme_active_opacity is the value for the currently active window, while metacity_theme_opacity is the value for all windows running in the background. Rightclick the keys and choose Edit Key... to change their values. You can select a number between 0 and 1, where 1 is full opacity and 0 is highly transparent. 

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