Gravatar If you're looking to try something other than Gnome, may I recommend XFCE? It's smaller and lighter than gnome, while keeping some of gnome's better aspects and working with gnome tray applets. Its menus are (intentionally) editable and much more configurable, and it starts up in 1/8th the time (in my experience).

I think the file explorer that comes with xfce stinks, but you can still use nautilus inside xfce.

In my experience, xfce provides something closer to the transparency and simplicity of linux in general than does gnome, and that's why I like it so much.

(note: I am not affiliated with the project, I just like it a lot.)

Gravatar You could also try Kubuntu - Ubuntu with a KDE desktop.

I installed both Ubuntu and Kubuntu, just to try them both out and see which one worked best for me, although I suppose I could have installed the KDE packages on top of Ubuntu, but my previous KDE experience has weighed in on the side of Kubuntu.

KDE has also improved nicely since 3.0.5, which was what I was using, and despite a few issues it all works pretty well. Since KDE is regarded as being a bit gadget-heavy, if GNOME seems too minimal then perhaps KDE is worth trying out.

I can't verify this now (@work), but you can add stuff to application menu by going to


in nautilus (ctrl+l opens the location bar).

Adjust the nunber of slashes as appropriate.

Gravatar I'll also vouch for XFCE. I run it on a 300MHz PII laptop, and it is very responsive. Gnome kills that machine. I imagine it would be even better on a faster machine.

As far as the file manager, I use Rox-Filer with XFCE. It is also lightweight and stays out of your way.

You've probably encountered this already, but the Unofficial Ubuntu Starter Guide makes it easy to take care of some of the shortcomings you mention:

Gravatar Surprised you'd go with a brand name vs. building a whitebox...

Gravatar """ Surprised you'd go with a brand name vs. building a whitebox..."""

I know very little about hardware, and am not interested enough to learn more about it. So I usually just settle for a cheap box from Best Buy or something.