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The other day, I was explaining some of the benefits of Linux to one of my friends. I managed to do so pretty well, so much so that he decided to give it a shot. Then came the choice of distribution, I had an Ubuntu CD so passed it along and he was able to install it just fine. The first thing he tells me is that there no icons on the desktop? How am I supposed to browse my files?

Some distros provide you with these icons on the desktop and some don’t. Having the icons on the desktop might be an overkill for the geeks. After all, the Places Menu works just fine. However, I guess new users still want those icons on the desktop (Ubuntu forums would attest to the fact). So, if you are looking to get the Home, Trash or the Computer icons on the desktop, it is very easy. Follow along (works for all Gnome-based distros)

Hit Alt + F2, type in gconf-editor in the dialog box that comes up and hit Enter.

The Configuration Editor will open up. Navigate to Apps > Nautilus > Desktop.


Towards the right side, you will see a set of options. Place a check against the icons you want to see displayed on the desktop. You can display the Computer, Home, Trash and Network icons from in here.

While you are there, you can also tinker with the names. If for example, you want to change the name from “Computer” to “Varun’s Computer”, all you have to do is double-click on computer_icon_name, choose String as the type and then key in the name you want to give to it.

You can also uncheck volumes_visible option if you don’t want the mounted drives to appear on the desktop. I personally loathed them, could never get in terms with where they appear (on top of each other at times) and how to customize their positions.

That’s it! You can customize what to show up on your desktop easily. While you are there, you might look into other options with gconf-editor, it provides an explanation of every option that you select, so you know what you are about to do. In case something goes wrong you can always correct it via the editor or by using the gconftool2 command within the terminal.

Confused or crystal clear? Shoot any questions in the comments!

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  1. AdsBidWorld » How To Display Home, Computer, Trash icons On The Desktop [Ubuntu]
    June 21, 2009 at 5:07 am

    [...] original post here: How To Display Home, Computer, Trash icons On The Desktop [Ubuntu] This entry is filed under Computer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS [...]
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  2. diverdan
    June 20, 2009 at 10:31 am

    great post. i originally found instructions like these on the ubuntu forums. but i prefer to use a program called ubuntu tweak. ubuntu tweak allows you to customize many different aspects of ubuntu. think of it like tweakUI powertoy for windows xp.