Dec 27


Please see the article “Build a Linux-based Infrastructure Solution Demonstration Series” ( for rationale, introduction and links to articles in this series.

Ordinarily the demos I create use desktop backgrounds to guide the demonstration flow by “behaving” in a manner similar to a slideshow. When I double-click and “next” arrow/icon the desktop background is replaced by the “next” desktop background, or by “previous” desktop background if I double-click the “previous” arrow/icon. This will be discussed and shown in another article in this series.

For this to work effectively the standard desktop icons provided by Gnome must not be visible. Rather than trying to find a way of deleting these icons I hide them, which is possible in gnome 2.

Similarly, the top and bottom tool bars, which clearly show the Linux Gnome origin of the desktop, could usefully be hidden to eliminate distraction if top panel menus are not used in the demonstration and if bottom panel objects are not used in the demonstration. This, too, is possible.

In this post I discuss how to script hiding the standard desktop icons and how to script configuration of top and bottom panels so that they are able to be hidden.


This article assumes that the Virtual Box Machine Image created in accordance with the instructions in the blog article to be found at is available but it is expected that pretty much any VirtualBox Linux disk will do just as well so long as it runs Gnome 2 desktop.

Hide desktop icons

Our gnome desktop has a bunch of icons which will get in the way if we use a specific set of backgrounds to guide the demonstration.

Let’s create a script that will make standard desktop icons disappear

cat <<-'EODECK' > /media/sf_distros/scripts/

gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/desktop/home_icon_visible "false"
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/desktop/volumes_visible "false"
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/desktop/trash_icon_visible "false"
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/desktop/computer_icon_visible "false"
chmod ug+x /media/sf_distros/scripts/

Let’s execute the script to hide desktop icons

/bin/bash -v /media/sf_distros/scripts/

The icons are now invisible.

Executing commands in the script with “true” rather than “false” will make the icons re-appear.

Make top and bottom panels hideable

Our gnome desktop has a visible top panel and a visible bottom panel, which tell anyone somewhat familiar with IT that what they see is a Linux Gnome desktop.

This might be distracting if we don’t use top panel menus or bottom panel objects in our demonstration.

Ideally, since we might want to interact with the menus and objects when we are building the demo or preparing for a demo, the top and bottom panels should be accessible on demand.

The script shown below will add hide/show “button” at the extreme right of each panel. This button will be visible regardless of whether the panel is hidden or shown.

Let’s create and execute a script that will make top bar and bottom bar hideable.

cat <<-'EODECK' > /media/sf_distros/scripts/
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel/enable_buttons true
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel/auto_hide false
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel/enable_buttons true
chmod gu+x /media/sf_distros/scripts/

Let’s execute the script

/bin/bash /media/sf_distros/scripts/

Note the middle line in the script – auto_hide false. If you change false to true then the top panel will auto-hide and will appear when the cursor is moved up to the top of the screen.

Give it a try and see how it works.

Add to initial bulk configuration script

It is expected that the image being configured a bit at a time in this series of articles will be created more than once for different purposes. With this assumptions the individual scripts are appended to a single script so that the second and subsequent images can be configured by a single script rather than having lots of scripts to execute manually.

Don’t actually execute this script while you are building the first image.

cat <<-'EODECK' >> /media/sf_distros/scripts/
# update hide desktop icons
/bin/bash -v /media/sf_distros/scripts/

# make desktop panels hideable
/bin/bash -v /media/sf_distros/scripts/

chmod ug+x /media/sf_distros/scripts/


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