GNOME : Optimisation for Netbooks




So you have a fancy new compact netbook and want to run Linux on it. Well there are many distros for netbooks available such as the popular Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Cruncheee, SLAX, etc. But even though these distros are custom made for netbooks, they lack the element to further customize them, and well, some might even say, Linux is all about doing it yourself. When you are considering netbooks, you have to realize that the most common resolution on the displays is 1024 x 600, which will make the desktop of a Linux distro, such as Ubuntu, pretty cluttered, as at that resolution, the horizontal space is more than the vertical space.

So is there something that can solve this problem in a regular Linux distribution. GTK is the word you are looking for here, GTK is a library that’s part and parcel of GNOME or any Linux distribution for that matter. So what does GTK actually do? Well GTK is what programmers use to create graphical user interfaces (GUI) and is what is responsible for most of the features such as the dimensions of buttons, various colors of menu dropdowns, etc. The reason why we are talking so much about GTK is because it is highly flexible and this is what is going to be playing a major part in customizing your GNOME theme for your netbook. We are going to show you the basics of creating and modifying a GNOME theme by editing the .gtkrc-2.0 file.

We’ve simplified the procedure for you guys so you don’t have to spend too much time figuring out what to adjust.

First off, we need to create a text file, that will contain the codes to modify the theme, in the Home folder and name it .gtkrc-2.0. If the file already exists, then you need to modify the values in the lines we are going to discuss.

Another way to create this file is through the terminal, just type $ touch ~/.gtkrc-2.0

Next you can just type out what’s given below into that file and save it. After that you can either restart your PC or just hit[Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Backspace].

But if you are going to use the second method then you better save what you are currently working on as it will close all programs are bring you to the login screen.
style “gtkcompact” {
font_name=”Sans 8”
GtkButton::default_
border={0,0,0,0}
GtkButton::default_outside_
border={0,0,0,0}
GtkButtonBox::child_min_
width=0
GtkButtonBox::child_min_
heigth=0
GtkButtonBox::child_
internal_pad_x=0
GtkButtonBox::child_
internal_pad_y=0
GtkMenu::vertical-padding=1
GtkMenuBar::internal_
padding=0
GtkMenuItem::horizontal_
padding=2
GtkToolbar::internal-
padding=0
GtkToolbar::space-size=0
GtkOptionMenu::indicator_
size=0
GtkOptionMenu::indicator_
spacing=0
GtkPaned::handle_size=4
GtkRange::trough_border=0
GtkRange::stepper_spacing=0
GtkScale::value_spacing=0
GtkScrolledWindow::scrollbar_
spacing=0
GtkExpander::expander_
size=10
GtkExpander::expander_
spacing=0
GtkTreeView::vertical-
separator=0
GtkTreeView::horizontal-
separator=0
GtkTreeView::expander-size=4
GtkTreeView::fixed-height-
mode=TRUE
GtkWidget::focus_padding=0
}
class “GtkWidget” style
“gtkcompact”
style “gtkcompactextra” {
xthickness=0
ythickness=0
}
class “GtkButton” style
“gtkcompactextra”
class “GtkToolbar” style
“gtkcompactextra”
class “GtkPaned” style
“gtkcompactextra”

The first thing we changed here is the font, well the font is the same, but we have reduced the font size to 8 instead of the default 10. You could also try Bit stream Vera Sans Roman 8 to see if you prefer that font. We have reduced the sizes of the boxes and borders to it’s bare minimal with the settings provided. The button borders, internal and external have been pulled down. To change these values you can mess with the values which correspond to the four sides of the button.
GtkButton::default_
border={0,0,0,0}
GtkButton::default_outside_
border={0,0,0,0}
To change the spaces between alphabets and numbers you can adjust the value in the following line, 0 being the minimum we have selected:
GtkScale::value_spacing=0
With GNOME, the buttons don’t contain labels, they have what is called a child menu, which mostly is a label or could even be an image or a pixmap. We have kept the dimensions of the child widget to a minimum for netbooks, but you can change them by adjust the values in the lines:
GtkButtonBox::child_min_
width=0
GtkButtonBox::child_min_
heigth=0
GtkButtonBox::child_
internal_pad_x=0
GtkButtonBox::child_
internal_pad_y=0
Similarly, the height and width of all the menus, menu bars, scrollbars and toolbars have been kept to a minimum value. The GtkExpander option is connected to the GtkTreeView which is the list navigation style in GNOME. We’d advise you to use the TreeView with your netbook, which is basically list view, so it’s easier to navigate between files. You can optimize the size of the list format by adjusting the TreeView values.
GtkTreeView::vertical-
separator=0
GtkTreeView::horizontal-
separator=0
After these changes there are a few more things you can change to optimize GNOME further for your netbook.

A single panel is all that’s needed

By default Ubuntu comes with two panels located at the top and bottom of the screen. You don’t really want this as it takes up too much desktop space. So start off by right-clicking the lower panel and click on Delete This Panel. Don’t get too afraid as you won’t really lose anything by deleting the panel. The folders or items that were present on that panel can be easily added to the other panel by just right-clicking on that panel and selecting the option Add To Panel.

Now you are left with a single top panel. Let’s tweak this a bit more, right-click the top panel and go to Properties. Here you should reduce the size of the Panel to the least possible number so as to increase the vertical space on the desktop.

Next thing to do is change the orientation of this panel to the right or left, which ever you prefer. And to add a bit of style factor we have changed the opacity of the panel as well. To do that, go to Panel Properties by right-clicking on the panel and selecting properties. To change the orientation, select the location from the drop-down menu. This is optional as some of you might prefer a top or bottom orientation.

To change the opacity, navigate to the Background tab and select Solid color. Change the opacity by using the slider.

You can also uncheck the Expand option in the Properties window, which will give the panel a smaller size that may not take up the entire height of the screen.

Looks aren’t everything

If you don’t mind simplistic looks, then you can also directly just disable the icons that are displayed in the menu bar. For this you need to go to System > Preferences > Appearance, navigate to the Interface tab and uncheck the option Show icons in menus. You will instantly see a reduction in the size of icons on the panel and if you open any menus from the menu bar you will also notice that you don’t have any icons left.

Another little thing you could change is the text below the icons. By default, all the programs in Ubuntu have text below icons. If you disable the text and keep only the icons it would free a bit more of vertical space. To do this, revisit the Interface tab of Appearance settings. Here, select Icons only from the drop down options under the Toolbar buttons label option. Again nothing to get too worried about, most of the icons are self explanatory and if you do come across something that you don’t understand then you can always just mouse over for the tooltip.

Stack up those windows

The last thing that we will be discussing here is to reduce the clutter created by open programs on the Panel. We will be using the tool Windows Selector for this task and it’s very easy to implement. All you have to do is right-click on the Panel and select ‘Add To Panel’. Next type in ‘Windows Selector’ in the search field and click on Add. Once it’s done all your windows will be stacked into a single button on the Panel.




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6 comments:

  1. hey haven't you heard about unity the new interface ubuntu is making for the netbooks ...
    see this http://arstechnica.com/open-source/reviews/2010/05/exclusive-hands-on-with-ubuntus-new-unity-netbook-shell.ars
    and this is just the begining.
    and dude alt+ctrl+backspace will not work not that is too old.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmmm... Thanx for the info :)

    And alt+ctrl+backspace worked for me on 8.10 !

    ReplyDelete
  3. 8.10 !!!!!!!!!!!!!! gosh dude thats 2 years back ... things have changed in two years .. 3 versions old thing ( though it is still supported) but it is old when things are changing with such a tremendous pace.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bro I complied these posts long ago remember, they are on auto post schedule :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. 8.10 !!!!!!!!!!!!!! gosh dude thats 2 years back ... things have changed in two years .. 3 versions old thing ( though it is still supported) but it is old when things are changing with such a tremendous pace.

    ReplyDelete
  6. hey haven't you heard about unity the new interface ubuntu is making for the netbooks ...
    see this http://arstechnica.com/open-source/reviews/2010/05/exclusive-hands-on-with-ubuntus-new-unity-netbook-shell.ars
    and this is just the begining.
    and dude alt+ctrl+backspace will not work not that is too old.

    ReplyDelete

 

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