I have come to a conclusion that all my needs from nautilus are satisfied with the terminal and last file manager. It also dismisses the need for multiple nautilus instances, which makes mess when I forget how I'm meant to use different workspaces.

The next step for my simplification would be to get rid of any possibility to open nautilus. Also I thought that my interaction with computer is file centered, therefore it makes sense to leave file manager in background of applications.

Are there any ways to make terminal as desktop background with which I could interact?

  • Why not use ubuntu-server itself then? – jobin Oct 27 '13 at 9:32

Well that's an interesting problem.

This is quite simple in KDE, you just set up a special window assignment (right click the title bar) to make the terminal fullscreen, below all other windows, drawn without window decorations and to skip the taskbar. It works beautifully.

Under Compiz you can achieve a similar effect with CCSM with its Window Rules plugin. The problem you have is differentiating between a terminal you might load up subsequently and the one you load on boot. It might make sense to install another terminal application (Terminator is a fine choice) and just use that for your desktop. Then you can tell CCSM to change the window settings on all Terminator instances.

In both cases you can leave the desktop as it is. It'll be there, but it'll be obscured by the terminal.

Another way you could do this (using the same ideas as above but cross-platform) is to use wmctrl to set the hints rather than leaving it up to the Window Manager.

The following three commands will set the current window to cover the desktop.

wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,fullscreen
wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,below
wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,skip_taskbar

You can either save that in a script or you can munge it all together in a lovely messy one-liner. Annoyingly, wmctrl can only do two hint changes at a time so it's a little more bloated than one might like.

gnome-terminal -x sh -c "wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,fullscreen,below;wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,skip_taskbar;bash"

Other terminal emulators will work like this but they might have a different argument for running something (vs the -x that gnome-terminal and terminator use). konsole uses -e, for example.

  • The wmctrl aproach seems good starting point. Is it possible to hide the modified gnome-terminal from taskbar? Oh it's solved, tested it in wrong way :) – Jānis Erdmanis Oct 27 '13 at 12:15

Curious request, I think you'd be happier disabling the desktop then using a drop down terminal like Guake.

Disabling the desktop

Prevent Nautilus from handling the desktop with this command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false

Using Guake

You may be better off just using a drop down terminal like Guake. It activates with a hotkey then hides with one as well. It's very configurable, offering transperancy options, size options and colour options among others.

If you don't like Guake, there are plenty more drop terminals, but Guake is my choice.



  1. How to disable nautilus from handling the desktop?

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