Tweaking Gnome 2

Although I've been using Linux since 2001, this is the first time I've rolled up my sleeves and seriously tried Gnome, the most popular desktop environment. Bear with me as I discover all those tips and tricks that you Gnome users have known all along. …

The Gnome desktop environment and conforming Gnome applications store their configuration in a central database, GConf. The system-wide stuff is at /etc/gconf, and per-user stuff at ~/.gconf. So if you're looking for the per-user configuration files for a Gnome application, don't look for ~/.foobar, look for ~/.gconf/apps/foobar.

It is best to configure Gnome and its applications using their GUI tools. TODO: Document them. They include:

  • gnome-control-center

When you need to edit configuration files by hand, gconf-editor (System – Preferences – Configuration Editor) eases the job.

Gnome's menus are fully compliant with the XDG specification of freedesktop.org.

I have no need for Tracker so I uninstall it. If you keep it, you might want to turn off its default behavior of indexing removable media (System – Preferences – Search and Indexing – Indexing), which often keeps USB sticks momentarily busy when you want to unmount them and serves no purpose that I can imagine.

BACKUP CONSIDERATIONS
Some of Gnome's files should be excluded from your backup routine. (You do have a backup routine, don't you?) You will want to exclude:

  • /etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults/
  • /etc/gconf/schemas/
  • ~/.cache/ (I think this is a Gnome-created directory, but I might be mistaken)

If you use a sync-based backup, you will also want to exclude these files. They are not themselves so large, but being often-changing, their many historical versions can overrun your storage space:

  • ~/.gconf/apps/nautilus/desktop-metadata/
  • ~/.gconfd/
  • ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata/
  • ~/.dmrc
  • ~/.gtk-bookmarks
  • ~/.recently-used
  • ~/.recently-used.xbel

REFERENCES
ArchLinux Gnome Tips

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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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