Linux is extremely flexible. Linux makes it possible to run in a number of different desktop environments. The plus side of this is that you decide how you want to work. Your system works the way you want it to and not the other way around. The down side is exactly the same. Let's face it, being told what to do is often easier, even if it means getting used to working in a way that you may not particularly like at firstnot necessarily better, but easier.
On that note, at some time when you've gotten comfortable with your Linux system running the GNOME desktop, you may want to try one of the other graphical desktop environments that are available to Linux users. You may have already heard of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) desktop. Between it and GNOME, you've got the two most popular desktop environments in the Linux world. There's another version of Ubuntu called Kubuntu that uses the KDE desktop by default; in Chapter 20, I'll show you how to add the Kubuntu desktop to your Ubuntu Linux system. The beauty of this is that you can then flip back and forth between the different desktop environments. Why would you want to do this? Quite simply, you may find yourself totally taken with a different way of doing things. All your programs will still work as they did, but the feel of your desktopthe experience, if you preferwill be all yours. For now, we'll stick to GNOME.
A Few Words About X
After I start showing you around your desktop, what I am telling you now will fade into the background of your memory, but I still think you should know: GNOME, that great-looking desktop system, is the friendly face that rides above your Linux system's real graphical engine. That engine is called the X window system, or simply X. GNOME, your desktop environment, provides control of windows, borders, decorations, colors, icons, and so on.
When you installed your system, you went through a graphical desktop configuration step of some kind. That wasn't GNOME, but X.
X is what the desktopand every graphical program you runreally runs on. Let's log in and see what the excitement on the desktop is all about.