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B.3. The GNOME Desktop: A User's Point of View

GNOME gives users an intuitive desktop metaphor, a file manager, an easy way to launch applications installed on the system, and built-in support for themes, which allow users to change the aesthetic characteristics of their desktop and applications. For example, the "steel" theme makes the desktop and applications appear to be made of steel, and a "wooden" theme makes them appear to be made of wood. Various desktop productivity tools such as a calendar, calculator, address book and spreadsheet are also included. The user can easily change the look of their applications by using the GNOME control center. Most GNOME distributions include numerous pre-designed desktop themes. Many other contributed themes can be found at, a web site dedicated to themes.

The GNOME desktop provides a number of powerful shortcuts that make it easy to interact with the computer. One of these is support for drag and drop: a file can be dropped onto the desktop to create a shortcut to it; a picture can be dropped onto the desktop setup program to change the desktop background; a color can be dragged from the color selector to the panel to change its background; and documents can be dragged onto the printer icon to print them.

Another key feature is GNOME's support for session management, which allows GNOME to remember the state of the desktop between logins. So, when users log in, they see the same desktop and running applications that were in use when they last logged off. In addition, GNOME applications can work together, by sharing a common clipboard, for example.

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