Monday, 27 July 2009

TIP: Set your panels to hide to 0 px

I bet you didn't realise that I haven't actually gotten rid of my panels in Gnome, right? I had toyed with the idea, but in the end, I decided to keep both the top and bottom panels because of their functionality, most notably:
  • I like to occasionally browse through my menus, just to see what's there!
  • I haven't quite gotten the hang of using Gnome-Do to open Nautilus to where I want.
  • I like having the systray open so I get nice little notifications for (e.g.) the network connecting, battery low, a change in volume or brightness, etc.
  • I sometimes forget what windows I have open (and they are quite often on different desktops), so I use the bottom hidden bar as a taskbar, and also to show when I have external devices mounted.
I think a lot of people would probably consider the panels unnecessary, but I think of it as my second-tier info system: my most common info is on my desktop with Conky, and all the info I occasionally use, but don't want clogging up my desktop, lives on the panels.

That said, most of the time I don't want my panels to be there at all, and the default 3px hide is kinda rubbish. To get the panels to hide to 0px (although I swear it's actually 1px because I can still see a little, tiny strip on the top and bottom), you need to delve into the (awesome!) gconf-editor, which you can run using Alt-F2 and typing "gconf-editor".
From My Little Desktop Photos

It's a bit like regedit in Windows, but easier to use.

Anyway, navigate (in the left panel) to / -> apps -> panel -> toplevels. Under toplevels, you may have panel_0 & panel_1 (like I have), or it will be something similar. It is these that you want to edit...Click on panel_0, then find the field auto_hide_size. Double-click to make it editable, then type 0. That's it! Repeat for panel_1 if applicable.
From My Little Desktop Photos

You will need to restart your panels for it to take effect; I usually just log out and log back in.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Screenie, Conky etc.!

Okay, I settled on a new desktop...I hope you like!
From Screenshots

From Screenshots

More details available on the Ubuntu Forums Conky Thread.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Mucking Around

I found this fantasic wallpaper on 4scrape and just had to try it out...It's just begging for a Conky!

Anyway, I had a go, just for a trial...It's not really my style so my heart isn't quite in it, but I'd love to see someone else have a go!
From Screenshots

Thursday, 16 July 2009

TIP: Be Savvy About the Order of Things in Conky!

Here's a quick shot of my current desktop:
From Screenshots

A brief summary: I'm running Ubuntu with Gnome; I actually use a top and bottom panel, both auto-hidden to 0px (I'll share that tip in another post), my system information is drawn to the desktop using Conky, and I use Gnome-Do as a launcher, so I don't need a menu or dock bar.

In my Conky, I use a combination of ${goto}, ${offset} and ${voffset} to cover the placement of everything, including ConkyForecast, which finds me the weather. I found that you have to be really careful of how you call the various pieces of the code, however, to manage drawing things in the right order! For instance, it isn't obvious, but in this example, I draw the CPU/memory bars and their associated processes first, under the beach hut, then the battery and hard drive bars right at the bottom, then the clock and date, and finally the ConkyForecast. Normally you'd think you'd want to draw it from the top down, to minimise jumping all over the screen, but drawing it this way does a couple of things:
  • It ensures that when my huge funky font splashes out over a large part of the screen, it draws on top of the CPU/memory bars, rather than below it, and
  • When starting up from OFF, ConkyForecast can't query the weather until you're connected to the internet; if you put ConkyForecast first, it doesn't draw anything, and if you've used ${offset} or ${voffset} relative to its placement, the rest of your information will be misaligned.
I'll post some example screenies soon.

Happy tweaking!

A Brief Introduction

Okay, I've finally had to admit to myself that I have two great crafty loves: textiles (incl. knitting, crocheting and quilting) and desktop customisation. Now, you can stop yourself right there, because my hubby has already informed me that I am a massive dweeb. Well...Nevermind. Anyway, I already have a blog devoted to my other crafty work (, so I have started blog #2, for everything related to desktop customisation, on the various OS platforms I use.

This blog is partially to share my tips and tricks, but mostly for me to have a record of the "artwork" that I produce. For your info, I use several different OS-es: at work, I use WinXP (which is pretty much "locked down" due to our rather strict IT protocols), Ubuntu at home (the latest release, natch) and Google Android on my T-Mobile G1. I am pretty obsessed with the way things look, being such a visual person, and I tweak pretty much non-stop because I'm always after that perfect, intuitive system...

Please feel free to leave comments/critiques here, or you can find me on the Ubuntu forums (londonali1010) or on (londonali1010). I should also mention that for new screenies, I will be sure to credit other artwork where I can, but for old screenies, I don't have that info to hand. However, I will be happy to have a look for you, if you find a particular wallpaper or font you like!