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Why is there no system directory where a person might access all system utilities, like background, text size, color, etc. Must I download a separate utility for everything?

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Also please read the FAQ on how to ask questions here. This is not the place to vent your frustrations, feel free to do that in the chat. – Gerhard Burger Jan 31 '13 at 13:28
@GerhardBurger 1) Who says frustrations are welcome in chat? :) 2) One needs some reputation to be able to talk in chat. – gertvdijk Jan 31 '13 at 14:11

All appearance options are in the 'Appearance' section of the 'System Settings'.

There is also myunity Install myunity in the software center that lets you modify the Unity interface.

If that is not enough you can also install Ubuntu Tweak or UnSettings, the first lets you tweak Ubuntu in general, the second is specifically for the Unity interface.

Finally there is compizconfig-settings-manager Install compizconfig-settings-manager, but this tool is very advanced, so I wouldn't recommend it to novice users.

Edit: To keep this answer up to date: There is now also Unity Tweak Tool which lets you change almost every part of Unity.

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Thank you! I downloaded compizconfig. My problem was document text that inexplicably went to light gray scale against white background and became unreadable. I found contrast settings in myunity but that changed desktop features as well. Incidentally I realize you Linux geeks are mostly unpaid volunteers and I don't want to appear as an ingrate. I do understand the cobbled nature of open-source, and the difficulty index is probably what keeps hackers at bay. – germeten Feb 1 '13 at 22:54
@germeten If you find the answer useful, please upvote and/or accept it, that keeps us linux geeks going ;) From a distance open-source can be very daunting and complex, but if you invest a little time in it, you see that it is in fact very well organized. Unfortunately that doesn't mean everything is perfect, but as you point something out, we do our best to fix it. Some examples of programs you probably didn't realize were open-source: Firefox, VLC Player, XBMC, Android. Also have a look at Red Hat, they make over a billion a year creating and selling (support on) open-source software! – Gerhard Burger Feb 2 '13 at 9:19

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