A few of us were discussing minimal desktop environments the other day and I was reminded of the olden days when I used XFCE. I really liked the clean interface which did not display any desktop icons by default. Looking back on that I was reminded that it is an option available in Gnome as well, so here is how to do it.
Disable Desktop Icons In Gnome
A lot of Gnome configuration is done via the gconf-editor. I’ll outline how to do this manually and graphically, including a command you can use to activate it from the shell. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Do you prefer icons or not? They always seem like clutter to me.