When Ubuntu 10.4 was released I used it as my primary desktop for a week before alternating between it and Fedora.  The polish and finish of the desktop experience is subtle in some places and  noticeable in others–with the exception of the purple background I found incredibly unappealing.

Overall, Fedora isn’t that much different from Ubuntu.  After using Ubuntu for a week and coming back to Fedora, it definitely has some hard edges.  In many ways it would be easy to keep using Ubuntu.  There is something very pleasant about the desktop experience that I can’t quite put my finger on.  It seems to be a combination of the default font selections, overall window manager configuration, and uniform look and feel of the applications I use.  As a general productivity user, I never found myself in situation needing to switch back to Fedora because it had something Ubuntu did not.

One of the things I liked best about the Ubuntu desktop experience is that Firefox does NOT immediately steal focus every time you click on a link somewhere else.  As I sweep through email I open a number of URLs, delete the message and move on. After email is clear I switch to Firefox, working though each of the open tabs and closing them as I go. No more email, no more tabs. I’m all done. It’s not usually this clean and proficient, but that is the goal 🙂

I discovered Bar Tab while searching for Firefox’s focus stealing configuration. Bar Tab helps in situations were multiple browser tabs were open from a previous session. Instead of automatically reopening all the tabs when the browser starts again, it waits to load the tab until it’s clicked. This is super useful on notebooks that connect and disconnect from networks frequently–particularly if some the web content is behind an authorized firewall.  It can also be configured to not load any tab until it is clicked.

To tell Firefox to stay in the background (not steal focus), make the following configuration change:

1) Go to about:config–type about:config in the navigation bar.

2) Set browser.tabs.loadDivertedInBackground to ‘true’.