Customizing GNOME

Any of the gnome panels and their icons can be moved around the screen by dragging them with the middle mouse button. To add a new icon to one of the menu bars, right click on some empty space on the bar, and a menu will appear. Select Add to Panel, and select the icon you wish to add.

The first five menus are interactive utilities that sit on one of the panel bar.

  • A Launcher is a shortcut or alias to a program.
  • Launcher from menu will allow you to copy one of the icons from the GNOME Applications menu directly onto one of the panel bars.
  • GNOME Menu is the foot menu where your applications are found. This is useful especially in case you have removed the foot menu from your panel.
  • A Drawer is a pull-out menu that you can put your own icons into.
  • The Log Out and Lock Screen icons are just shortcuts to the ones in the GNOME menu.

Here is how to make a shortcut to your favorite programs:

    Let’s say that your favorite program is the Mozilla web browser. At the time of this writing the newest version of Mozilla installed is1.1, and it is installed in /usr/usc/mozilla/1.1. You should check to see if there is a newer version before adding 1.1.

  • Right click on some empty space on a panel or where you would like to put
    your icon.
  • Click Add to Panel then Launcher…


  • The Name:, Generic name:, and Comment: fields don’t matter terribly much, so just fill in Mozilla 1.1
    for each of those.
  • For the command, you can put the path to the command if you know it, or you can use the Browse… button if you want to find it. System level and GNOME programs are found in /bin, and other programs are installed in /usr/usc/. Select the full path to the program, including the version number and the executable name.
  • Click the No Icon box and select an icon for your launcher.
  • Some programs on the Solaris systems require a special setup in order to work. Such programs will have a setup.csh file in their directory. If you see
    one of these, make sure you put
    source /path/to/program/setup.csh
    on a new line at the end of your ~/.login file.

Setting the Desktop Wallpaper

To set your desktop wallpaper, first prepare a picture file and download it to your UNIX account. Then right click on some empty space on the desktop. From the menu that appears, select Change Desktop Background. Then click on the picture box under Select picture:, and locate the picture file that you downloaded. Finally select how you would like it to display the wallpaper. Wallpaper is useful for small tiles that match up. Stretched will make the image bigger or smaller to fit the screen resolution size.

Other Preferences

Other GNOME preferences can be found in the GNOME menu under Applications and Desktop Preferences.

Workspaces and the Workspace Switcher

GNOME, like many other X11 window managers has support for multiple workspaces. A workspace is a desktop to which certain programs and windows are bound. By default GNOME has 6 of these. You can change between the different workspaces by using the Workspace Switcher in the bottom right corner of the screen.

It will show an outline of all the windows that occupy the screen. So rather than extensively using the Window List and Alt-Tab, you can position your windows across 6
different workspaces. Switch between workspaces by clicking on them in the Workspace Switcher. You can also configure keyboard shortcuts to switch by using the Keyboard Shortcuts program in the Desktop Preferences menu.

Exiting GNOME

It is important that you log out of GNOME when leaving a public computing center. Leaving yourself logged in would give anyone in the area access to all of your files, and allow them to run commands in your name.

To log out of gnome, click on the Actions menu, then click Log Out.


You will be prompted as to whether you want to save your desktop or not. Not all programs are compatible with this function, but if you click Yes, the next time you start GNOME, all compatible programs will reappear on your desktop in the same state they were when you last logged out of GNOME.

Getting Help

Help is available through the Yelp system in the Applications folder of the GNOME menu. Help is also available on the GNOME
website at

For any additional questions, contact the ITS Customer Support Center.