Following on from my page on resetting your wallpaper, I though it may be appropriate to look at some simple tweaks to modify your desktop further, to begin to customise it just how you want it. I'm using a Gnome desktop here, but KDE based systems will be similar.
Here we go!
I've changed the wallpaper yet again, as hopefully, this version will show up the tweaks better than a basically black background. This is what we're starting with:
You can customise the top and bottom Panels (known as Task Bars in Windows®) appearance by right clicking the panel and selecting Properties.
You will now see:
or if you switch tabs
It is the Background tab we're going to look at for the moment, to see how we can change it's appearance to blend in with whatever desktop wallpaper you choose.
You can see in the screen-shot, how the default is None (use system theme). This results in the grey Panels top and bottom of the screen. But, if we choose Solid colour, you can now see how my lower Panel has changed to white - the default colour.
Of course, you have a full colour palette to choose from, but I'm going to keep white and use the Style slider control, to adjust the Transparent/Opaque properties of the Panel. This happens in real time, so as you move the slider from side to side, you can see the effect it is having on your desktop Panel. I've moved it about 75% to the left (fully left is maximum transparency) and this is the result:
The screen-shot above shows the difference in the top and bottom Panels. The top being unmodified and the lower modified as described.
I'll now change the top Panel in exactly the same way and you can see the result here:
It is my preference to see a little of the Panel, but you may choose to see more or less, or perhaps a different colour, or even a different position on the desktop.
In order to change the position, you need to go back to the first tab marked General and select the Orientation drop down list. Just for demonstration, I'll move the lower Panel to the left hand side of the desktop. Here's what it looks like:
Note: using this option, (because of the vertical orientation), you loose the text caption on the tabs of multiple applications. This is one of the reasons I don't care for it very much, but there are many that love it that way.
Yet another option , is to have both Panels at either the top or bottom of the desktop. You can see from the next screen-shot, how Linux automatically stacks the panels without any fuss:
This is an excellent choice for setting the transparency to equal levels, before repositioning the Panels to taste.
You can even create a suitable image and use that for the Panel background.
All this, and we haven't even looked at Compiz (you can find that elsewhere on this site). But for lower power computers, you can achieve quite stunning effects, that have no perceivable effect on performance.