Ubuntu Saucy Desktop Add-ons

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Ubuntu Saucy Desktop Add-ons
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Desktop Add-ons

There are many add-on icons, themes, wallpapers, 3-D effects, and other customizations available for the GNOME desktop.

Gnome Eye-Candy Resources

  • Gnome Look has wallpapers, splash screens, icons, and themes for windows managers (including Metacity and Compiz) and other applications.

Ubuntu Wallpaper

Change Plymouth Splash Screen

This is the initial splash screen you see at bootup. Different Plymouth themes can be found by searching for plymouth-theme in a Package Manager. Install a new one and then:

sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth
sudo update-initramfs -u
and manually select the theme you wish to use.

Plymouth does not reliably work with nVidia drivers and during bootup a blank screen may result for several seconds.

Metacity

Metacity is the default desktop compositing manager in Gnome. It is lightweight, streamlined and does not have many configurable options, but has multiple themes available at Gnome Look.

Compiz Fusion

Compiz Fusion is available as a separate Windows Manager, to allow advanced desktop effects such as the rotating cube desktop. Many Ubuntu users choose to run Compiz, which is quite fast in Ubuntu. Install:

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra emerald librsvg2-common

To change to Compiz as the Window Manager:

  • Select Compiz Configuration:
Menu -> System -> Preferences -> CompizConfig Settings Manager
Note: You must logout and log back in for the change to take effect.

Fusion Icon

Fusion Icon is a tray icon that allows you to easily switch between window managers, window decorators, and gives you quick access to the Compiz Settings Manager. This allows quick toggling of 3-D desktop effects (that may not be compatible with some applications).

sudo apt-get install fusion-icon
Menu -> Applications -> System Tools -> Compiz Fusion Icon

You can then easily access CompizConfig Settings Manager from the icon.

Rotate the Compiz Cube

Set the CompizConfig Settings Manager to enable the "Desktop Cube" and "Rotate Cube" and "Viewport Switcher" options. Click on the icon for each to customize settings. For example, to change the appearance of the cube, click on the Desktop Cube icon to access its settings. You can set the hotkey buttons for rotating the cube in the "Viewport Switcher" settings. Otherwise, hold down the Ctrl+Alt+Left mouse button and drag the mouse (or touchpad) the direction you want to rotate the cube.

Remember, the cube rotates between desktops. It's not a cube unless you have at least 4 desktops running. You will not get a cube if you are only using 2 desktops (you will get a "plate"). You can still rotate the sides of the plate, of course, but it will not be a cube. (Recent users from the Windows OS may have no experience with the concept of simultaneous desktops, but they are nice once you learn how to use them).

When running Compiz fusion as the Windows Manager, you must change the default number of desktops from within CompizConfig Settings Manger. To enable 4 desktops:

CompizConfig Settings Manager -> General -> General Options -> Desktop Size -> Horizontal Virtual Size -> 4

When you start an application, you can assign it to any one of the 4 desktops by right-clicking the upper left corner of the application window and choosing the "To Desktop..." option. Rotating the cube shows the different desktops. You can also go to a desktop using the taskbar icon which shows the 4 desktops.

Emerald

Emerald is the theme engine for Compiz Fusion. Multiple themes are available. (These themes originated from the Beryl project before it merged with Compiz to form Compiz Fusion.) The Emerald Theme Manager for Compiz Fusion can be installed:

sudo apt-get install emerald

Google Desktop

Google Desktop for Linux was a proprietary suite of Google widgets and applications. It was discontinued in September 2011.

gDesklets

gDesklets are similar to Windows widgets and Google gadgets and provide information such as weather, system resources, and news primarily for the Gnome desktop (i.e. Ubuntu Maverick and older). Install:

sudo apt-get install gdesklets

Dock applications

Avant Window Manager, Cairo Dock, gnome-do and Wbar are dock-like applications for Ubuntu Linux. A dock represents running programs as icons at the bottom of the screen (as is done on the Mac OS X desktop), instead of by toolbar panel segments (as is done in Windows and other Linux window managers). See this brief comparison of dock applications.

Avant Window Navigator

  • Avant Window Navigator requires that a desktop composition manager (such as Metacity, Compiz, Xcompmgr, KDE4 (Kubuntu), or xfwm4 (Xubuntu)) be installed and running.
  • Install and upgrade proprietary nVidia or ATI graphics drivers so that the compositing manager functions properly.
  • Install AWN:
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator awn-manager
(Note: If you are using Gnome (Ubuntu) and do not already have a compositing manager installed (such as Compiz), Metacity will be installed as part of the installation.)
  • Enable automatic startup of AWN at bootup:
  • Menu -> System -> Preferences -> Startup Applications -> Add...
avant-window-navigator
  • Select which applets should run from the dock menu by default:
  • Menu -> Applications -> Accessories -> Avant Window Navigator Manager
You can drag application icons onto the list, then activate or deactivate the applets from the list.

Cairo Dock

Cairo Dock can be used either with a desktop compositing manager (such as Metacity for Gnome, Compiz, or the KDE4 Window Manager) or without one. See the Ubuntu installation instructions for details. It is available from the repositories:

sudo apt-get install cairo-dock cairo-dock-plug-ins

Gnome Do

Gnome Do is a docking utility for Gnome. Install:

sudo apt-get install gnome-do
  • From the preferences pane of gnome-do select the Docky look and feel to get the dock (rather than the default Quicksilver-like) look and feel.

wbar

wbar is a quick-launch bar (not a dock) that has an appearance similar to Avant Window Manager and Cairo Dock. It is GTK (Gnome) based but can work in all desktop environments. It does not require a compositing manager to be installed and is therefore quicker and more suitable for low-end hardware systems. It is the default in the Google gOS desktop and is available as a .deb package from Google. Download and install (from the command-line Terminal):

wget http://wbar.googlecode.com/files/wbar_1.3.3_i386.deb 
sudo dpkg -i wbar_1.3.3_i386.deb
  • Start wbar with custom start options (e.g. by pressing alt+F2). Here is an example:
wbar -isize 48 -j 1 -p bottom -balfa 40 -bpress -nanim 3 -z 2.5 -above-desk
Here is another example:
wbar -above-desk -pos bottom -isize 60 -nanim 1 -bpress -jumpf 0.0 -zoomf 1.5

For a full list of command-line startup options, see:

wbar --help

Tip: If you want the "wave" effect just increase the -nanim value. I like the icons to just pop up so I don't use it, but with 9 icons 5 there is a nice "wave" effect.

Obviously, you could create a menu item with the command line options (similar to the examples above), or a batch file that can be automatically started at system startup (as a cron event or startup session).

You can also change wbar startup options by editing the configuration file:

sudo gedit /usr/share/wbar/dot.wbar

See this example configuration file. However, not all options are able to be set from the configuration file and must be run from the command line. For more info see this wbar guide.

wbarconf

A simple wbar configuration utility can be downloaded as a .deb package and installed:

wget http://koti.kapsi.fi/~ighea/wbarconf/wbarconf_0.7.2-1_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i wbarconf_0.7.2-1_i386.deb
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