I am still frustrated with the Unity desktop. I was working in Audacity and had three instances of it open. It was a pain to switch windows. It is the little things like this that hinder me from using Unity full time. For that reason I switched over to the XFCE desktop.
Here is how I customize the XFCE desktop. Since I use Windows 7 at work, my modifications follow that sort of set up. You can set it up however you like.
First thing I do is delete the launcher on bottom. I then move the top panel to the bottom. You do this by right clicking on the panel, select “Panel”, then select “Panel Preferences”. Uncheck “Lock panel”. Then click on the far left of the panel and drag it to bottom of screen. Recheck “Lock panel”. Now it looks more like Windows XP.
I then change workspaces to 1 and then delete workspace icon. I also add show desktop icon. To add just right click, select “Panel”, then select “Add New Items”. Select “Show Desktop” and then click “Add”. To move the icon to the correct place, go to “Panel Preferences” and under the “Items” tab you will see arrow bottons. Highlight “Show Desktop” and use the up arrow to move it up, the down arrow to move it down.
I am cureently using Firefox, so I change default browser to Firefox. You will find this in the Setings Manager under Prefered Applications.
I also change the “Applications Menu” on the bottom right to just read “Menu”. Just right click on the menu icon, select Properties, and change Button Title to “Menu”.
I also change the appearance of the XFCE desktop. In the Settings Manager select Appearance. I then choose under the Style tab Clearlooks. Under the Icon tab I choose GNOME.
XFCE has a cool feature where it will automatically change your background image at set intervals. The easiest way to get to the settings is by right clicking on your desktop and selecting Desktop Settings. I first select the folder where my desktop images are. Then I select “Change the Background”. I leave it at 10 minutes. I also select “Random Order”.
I then add icons to my desktop by dragging and dropping them from the Applications Menu to the desktop. When you drag a program icon to your desktop and then click on it it will say “Untrusted application launcher”. Simply choose “make executable” and that will fix it.
That’s about it. I hope that helps you in your own customization of a great lightweight desktop environment.