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Making GNOME Look Like OS X - page 2

Panther by the Tail

  • April 6, 2006
  • By Jem Matzan

This section involves a great deal of personal preference due to the fact that the dock cannot yet be completely reproduced on GNOME. Use the information below to customize GNOME to your own tastes.

Now you have to decide what you want to do with the window list at the bottom of the screen. It's a handy feature, but OS X doesn't have it -- it uses the dock instead. You can effectively replace the dock as a program launcher by using gDesklets, but this program does not yet support switching between windows or tasks. If you want to delete the bottom panel entirely and replace it with gDesklets, click on an empty space in the bottom panel and select Delete This Panel in the popup dialogue that follows. Be warned: once you delete the panel, it will take some work to get it back to the way it was (use the top panel to create a new panel, move it to the bottom of the screen, then add the applets and buttons that were there before). You need a window list or selector so that you can get to minimized windows and quickly switch between running programs. Add one of them to the top panel by right-clicking on an empty space on it, then clicking on Add to Panel, then choose either the Window List or Window Selector.

As with all software, you should install gDesklets not by downloading it directly, but by using your distro's package manager. Once it's installed, you will have to set it to start when GNOME starts. To do this, go to the Preferences section of the Desktop menu, then select Sessions. Click on the Startup Programs tab, then type this in for the command:

gdesklets start

The next time GNOME starts, gDesklets will load. You will have to add icons for the programs that you want to start from it. There are also many applets available for gDesklets; you can find out more from the gDesklets Web site. With time and effort, you can get gDesklets to look and act more like the OS X dock.

There are many more things you can do to GNOME to make it more OS X-like--change the foot icon to the Apple logo, customize the menu structure to more closely resemble OS X's, and even change the names of your programs. No matter what, though, you can't get rid of the application shells that dominate the non-Apple computing portion of the software world.

Jem Matzan is an experienced electronics technician, freelance technology journalist, and the editor-in-chief of The Jem Report, Entertainment in Review, Hardware in Review and Software in Review.

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