Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Alienising my laptop

I used my laptop to write the annual report for the organisation I work for. And -since I had to be online constantly- I had to write it under Windows. See, I can not get the wifi running, not even with the Feisty beta. No problem, I checked online and my laptop is on the not-supported list. It’s not a Linux problem, it’s a hardware problem.

But when you work with Windows XP and use the default desktop you just get the urge to want to change it, to make it look more snappy. In my case, that also means not spending any money on it. The guys from Alienware came the rescue. On their website you can dowload a nice package with a few Alien themes, the AlienGUIse Theme Manager. That was an improvement, but not enough. My desktop was littered with icons and shortcuts. Most went to /dev/null and for the others I made a new taskbar at the top of the screen. Add a snazzy wall paper and a nice theme for Firefox and XP started to look nice.

One big problem! When I went back to my default Ubuntu desktop, the decent Human theme, it was a bit…. How do I put it nicely? Boring. But to work with Linux is to customize, right? It was time for a visit to the Gnome Look website. Searching for dark themes and alien-like themes was easy enough and I downloaded a number of candidates. I think the biggest package was about 800 Kb, but the others hovered around 100 Kb. Way smaller than the multimegabyte AlienGUIse package.

Installing the packages was as simple as opening the Gnome Theme Manager and dropping them there. After that I tinkered with the settings, found myself another snappy wallpaper and enabled the desktop effects that come with Feisty.

Is this practical? Of course not. It is way too dark and you don’t want to spend hours and hours working on these desktops. Besides, I need the default Human Theme for all the screenshots in the book. The Windows XP desktop is not practical because it becomes too bloated, taking up precious resources. Adding AlienGUIse didn’t make my previous XP boxes any more stable now that I recall. For Ubuntu it didn’t change a thing performance wise. It’s still fast.

Now let’s see what else I can find on the Gnome Look pages.

Tags: Ubuntu, Windows, Gnome

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