Step 1: Turn on auto-hinting
Turning on auto-hinting will make the fonts look smoother and hence, beautiful. To do this, I did:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig
I selected auto-hinter in the first screen that appeared. For the rest, I left the default as such.
Step 2: Get some good fonts
I like the default fonts that ship with the major OSs. For example, Segoe UI on Vista and Lucida Grande in OS X. I got Segoe UI when I installed Office 2007. I grabbed it from Windows XP fonts folder from the Windows partition. For Lucida Grande, I Googled and got it. I copied these two font sets to my fonts folder and changed the font preferences as below:
(You can open your fonts folder by clicking on "Details…" and then selecting "Go to font folder" in the next dialog)
Step 3: Get a nice wallpaper
The default brown wallpaper is just plain dull and gloomy. I got a tangy orange wallpaper as mentioned in this post.
After all these rather simple modifications, my desktop looks like this:
My next task is to get the multimedia and p2p applications going. That is in my next post.