My quest for the perfect Ubuntu desktop continues.

Today, I really wanted to remove all of my desktop icons since I like using that area for storage, but I don’t like having all that stuff strewn across each of my workspaces since I never actually use the desktop itself. I searched around and found some helpful information, but it really didn’t do what I wanted. I’ll provide that information in case it does what you want.

The Configuration Editor is Ubuntu’s (more acurately, Gnome’s) application that lets you control a massive number of options that all work together to present your desktop, file browser, windowing system, etc. You can add and remove system generated icons from the desktop by using the Configuration Editor (from now on referred to as Gconf. To load Gconf press “Alt+F2” to bring up the Run Application dialog, type in gconf-editor, and click Run.

Once Gconf is loaded, expand apps > nautilus > desktop. Once you’ve selected desktop, you’ll notice some options on the right-hand side. The options with checkboxes are of interest here. Checking or unchecking these checkboxes shows or hides the relevant desktop icons. You can show and hide desktop icons for computer, home, network, trash, and mounted volumes.

This is all well and good, but I wanted to be able to hide all the desktop icons, not just system created ones. So my search continues until I found From MacOS to Ubuntu: Show/Hide Desktop Icons on Gnome. Apparently there isn’t a way to just hide the icons, even by going through Gconf. So, you have to directly tell Gnome (the default window manager for Ubuntu) to not show any of them. So, the script provided will tell Gnome to toggle the display of all desktop icons. Sébastien even provides a nice icon to use in your dock for this function.

If you’ve tried the script, you may have noticed that it doesn’t work. The script is written to use the tcsh shell, which is not installed by default in Ubuntu. I quickly installed it by running the following in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install tcsh

After all this effort to find a way to remove the icons, I’ve decided to go ahead and not do so. After a couple of hours, I realized that my desktop was completely black. This is odd even though my background color is set to black since my desktop is also set to be transparent. After removing the modification and restarting X (Ctrl+Alt+Backspace), my desktop returned to normal. I’m going to go ahead and post this though as some may find this to be a benefit and don’t use the desktop transparency.

Until I find a solution, I guess that I will just have to keep my desktop clean. I guess bad habits are hard to break and Gnome won’t let me easily hide away my clutter.

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