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How'd They Do It?

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Frederik Van Poucke, Martijn Pepping, Moiez Ul Hasnain, Scott M. Morris

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Posted: 14 Dec 2005

Due to the great number of requests, I have asked each of the winners of the desktop competition to write up a small explanation of what they did on their desktop to make it so cool. Their responses to my request are as follows, for everyone who asked for it.

Moiez Ul Hasnain, First Place

Moiez's comments are as follows:

As you can see, I am using Superkaramba. Liquid Weather Theme and for system info, using "Cynapsis" Karamba Theme. And a usual Amarok theme.

For Applet I am using kxdocker. Sorry I have lost the link, but I remember, I found it by searching it on

For System Menu Button using KBFX and its one of theme.

For Style and Window Decoration, using "Baghira" for KDE again obtained it from

And Wallpaper, I obtained long time ago, dont remember from where. It is still my default and stored in my HDD.

(Thanks, Moiez, that's a really slick desktop.)

Frederik Van Poucke, Second Place

Frederik's comments are as follows:


Desktop Setup

When it comes to choosing a graphical interface, I'm mainly looking for something that is fast and functional, but I really like eye candy as well... These interests seem to conflict, but with gnome and a select amount of desklets,applets,themes and wallpapers I have a configuration that works great for me AND has quite a lot of eye candy !

I will try to explain how I gave my desktop it's current look. It's actually not a lot of work ...

First thing I did when I started configuring my laptop was getting my display resolution right. The most difficult part was finding the correct howto page for my X600 card. after that it was pretty straight forward. Now I have the comfortable 1400x1050 with 3D acceleration enabled. (Note that with the new ATI driver this task has become a lot easier.)

Another thing I allways configure straight away are my keybindings. They save me a lot of keyboard-mouse switching. The most basic ones are for desktop navigation (I use ALT+1 ... 6) and for moving windows to a certain desktop (I use CTRL+1 ... 6). The more advanced can be to bind a key for starting 3d desktop.

Now choose a nice wallpaper. What I did was enter "1400x1050" in google images (or something like "tux wallpaper" or "tux win" with large images selected.) You'll be amazed of what you can find this way! My wallpaper can be found here:

Click image for larger version

After the wallpaper comes the screensaver. The one I really like is the "Flurry" screensaver which comes with the xscreensaver package:

As desktop theme I choose the "SphereCrystal" one but I did choose some custom icons from /opt/kde3/share/icons/crystalsvg/48x48/filesystems to replace the default ones.

Now it's time for some more fancy stuff ...

What I usually do is put following applets in my top panel : a battery monitor, a system monitor and a wifi monitor and in my bottom panel a workspace switcher and a log off applet. So I can always keep an eye on my system without having to minimize any windows.

The 3ddesktop package is very sweet. It gives that "wow" effect when showing off to friends or collegues ;-) It's a virtual desktop switcher (run "3ddesk --acquire" to fetch all desktops), it zooms your view out with each virtual desktop captured on a flat panel, each panel can then be rotated like a carousel. You can use either a keyboard or mouse to rotate and select the desktop you want. I do not use it very often though because my keyboard shortcuts are a lot faster to switch to other virtual desktops, nevertheless I've bound it to F2 so I can launch it whenever I want:

But the true eye candy comes with the gdesklets ...

"gDesklets is a GNOME program which provides the architecture for small applets or widgets to be placed on top of the user's desktop. This program is similar to Konfabulator, Dashboard, DesktopX for Windows, or SuperKaramba for KDE. The applets placed on the desktop are meant to be quick ways for the user to retrieve information and not get in the way of normal activity."

The ones I like are the :

  • StarterBar
  • Sidebar CPU meter
  • Sidebar Clock
  • Sidebar Network Display
  • Sidebar Memory meter
  • Sidebar Disk Usage Display (one for each mounted partition)
  • iWeather

This is what the gdesklets look like running on the desktop:

Just download them and play around with them.

Some more easy things to do :

  • Firefox themes (Abstract PC, Noia 2.0 Extreme, ...)
  • XMMS skins (Chaos_XMMS, Cobalt-Obscura, ...)
  • Gaim emoticons (filthy smilies)

This are just some easy modifications you can make to make your desktop look awesome and I'm sure this is just the beginning with promising projects such as XGL to name one.

Useful Links Ati installer howto Gdesklets homepage Ati homepage 3d desktop readme Novell client for linux color vt102 terminal emulator screenshots rpm's XScreenSaver GDesklets Xgl Gaim Improved Source

Useful Packages

My Hardware

  • HP Pavillion ZD8185ea
  • 1Gb
  • Ati X600
  • BCM4306 802.11b/g wireless lan adapter
  • 100Gb HD

(Thanks, Frederik, that's a great article. You should write more for us!)

Martijn Pepping, Third Place

Martijn's comments are as follows:

I'm running Novell SUSE Linux 10 on a HP nx9000 notebook. As a networkadmin I use it mainly for work. The GNOME desktop provides a unified, well integrated desktop for business purposes. Especially when you update GNOME to version 2.12.1 through one of the many SUSE Linux FTP mirrors. This latest release of GNOME provides a really consistent user experience, thanks to the Tango Desktop Project ( in which Novell participates. Updating can be done by using the ./supplementary/gnome directory as a source of installation.

Tools I use often are things like the iFolder3 client, Novell GroupWise, Beagle, Liferea, F-Spot, the Novell Client for Linux, a Citrix ICA Client and management tools such as ConsoleOne and iManager Mobile. gDesklets is a nice tool for GNOME users to get some eyecandy and usefulness right on the desktop.

People who are interested in the wallpaper, it's available on

(Thanks, Martijn!)


Again, I want to thank everyone who participated. If you have any suggestions for another competition, please let me know.

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