Using Xfce for a Netbook Desktop
I have been experimenting with making my own custom netbook desktop using the Xfce Desktop Environment. Xfce is supposed to be small and fast, which fits the bill nicely for a netbook; if I can work out a layout that looks good, and has convenient functionality, it could be a winner. As I have said before, I think the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (which is based on the Gnome desktop) is good for casual users, but I think it is a bit tedious for experienced users, and I find the Moblin desktop to be mostly inscrutable.
The first thing to do is get Xfce installed. Of course you can download one of the distributions that uses Xfce as its base. I decided to start with Xubuntu.
The standard Xubuntu desktop has panels at the top and bottom of the screen, much like the standard Ubuntu Gnome distribution. That seemed rather a waste, if I was going to have that I might as well stay with Gnome. Right-click on either of the panels, and a "Custmize Panel" window comes up. My first objective was to rearrange the panels, to make better use of the limited desktop space available. The Xfce panels can easily be moved to any edge of the screen, and switched between full-width/height and "normal" (only as wide/high as necessary for their contents). I chose to keep Panel 1 (which contains the menus and task list) at the bottom of the screen, but reduced to normal width; Panel 2 I moved to the right edge of the screen, and also set to normal width. That looks better already. Hmmm.