1. Configuration of GNOME
It is possible to configure GNOME by modifying the configuration files kept in your .gnome directory. However, nobody in their right mind would bother with this as it is much simpler to use the Configuration GUIs provided.
At the top of a GNOME managed session is a taskbar, and on the left side of this is either on Fedora systems, an "f" superimposed on a blue shape like this: , or on SUSE systems, a chameleon: . Henceforth this will be known as "Start". If you click on Start a menu is displayed giving access to the installed applications.
Clicking on System on the taskbar will give you a menu, select Preferences and you will get another menu allowing access to various configuration tools. Bring up Desktop Background, for example, and you will get a popup window called "Desktop Background Preferences", allowing you to change background pictures etc. You can also get to this window by right-clicking in the background and selecting Change Desktop Background from the menu.
Similarly, right-clicking in the taskbar at the top of the screen will take you to Properties, which allows modifications to taskbar attributes.
When you first start GNOME you'll be presented with a blank background - no xterm windows by default. A useful way to get them is to right click in the background, and select Create Launcher. In the popup window that appears put something like "xterm" after Name: and perhaps "xterm -ls" after Command:. This will create an icon called xterm on the left hand side of the screen. Double clicking on this will give an xterm window running a login shell. Furthermore the icon will persist through future sessions, so you only have to do this once.
Clicking on System then Help will bring up The GNOME Help Browser, providing access to lots of documentation. More information is available at www.gnome.org.
To log out, look in the System menu at the top right, you'll find Log Out "your CRSID".