In regards to Ubuntu Bug #10268, Gnome's preferences may be considered to be excessively modular. While modularity is a good thing, excessive modularity can become cumbersome. A look at KDE illustrates the contrast rather well, as its potentially confusing configuration mega-center is nicely contrasted by easier to swallow individual configuration dialogs such as the Desktop configuration dialog, which contains background image, screen saver, and icon settings.
The essential concept here is that similar settings should be grouped into Groups, and similar groups should also be grouped into Dialogs. Groups are made up of similar configuration options, such as appearance themes (GTK theme, icon theme) and mouse settings; while Dialogs are made up of similar Groups such as Mouse, Keyboard, and Keyboard Shortcuts falling into an "Input" or "Keyboard and Mouse" dialog.
In Gnome, similar settings make up a Configuration Applet; but various Configuration Applets house quite similar groups of settings. For example, there are completely separate Configuration Applets for setting up window focus behavior, menus and toolbars, and widget and icon themes; all of these control the visual appearance and behavior of the windowing system and all applications in general, and thus would be best grouped in a single Configuration Applet supplying access to three separate groups of configurations.
While a huge group of settings confuses an inexperienced user, a huge group of Groups can have the same effect. Users feeling their way around will have a hard time figuring out exactly which Configuration Applet they should use from only their basic understanding of what they wish to do. Grouping together full configuration Dialogs to complete Configuration Applets will make it easier to locate the desired options, as well as make exploring Gnome settings less threatening to a new user.
Some suggestions, listing tabs left to right, are shown below. A double-indent means a tab contains its own tab box; don't be afraid of interface "trees," because they can be quite useful.
- Theme (Theme)
- Windows (Windows)
- Menus and Toolbars (Menus and Toolbars)
- Background (Desktop Background)
Screensaver (Screensaver::Display Modes) (With Advanced button to spawn new dialog)
- Remote Desktop (Remote Desktop)
- Resolution (Screen Resolution)
Sound, Multimedia, and Autoplay:
- General (Sound::General)
- Sound Events (Sound::Sound Events)
Multimedia (combine(Removable Drives and Media::Multimedia, CD Database Server) (CDDB server seems gone in Breezy)
- Storage (Removable Drives and Media::Storage)
- Audio and Video (combine(Multimedia System Selector::Audio, Multimedia System Selector::Video))
- System Bell (Sound::System Bell)
Printers and Scanners (Removable Drives and Media::Printers and Scanners) (should be an Administration setting?)
- Session Options (Sessions::Session Options)
- Current Session (Sessions::Current Session)
- Startup Programs (Sessions::Startup Programs)
File Managment and Preferred Applications:
- Views (File Managment::Views)
- Behavior (File Managment::Behavior)
- Display (File Managment::Display)
- List Columns (File Managment::List Columns)
- Preview (File Managment::Preview)
- Preferred Applications (combine(Preferred Applications::Web Browser, Preferred Applications::Mail Reader, Preferred Applications::Terminal))
FIXME: Find somewhere better for Preferred Applications
Keyboard and Mouse:
- Keyboard (Keyboard::Keyboard)
- Layouts (Keyboard::Layouts)
- Layout Options (Keyboard::Layout Options)
- Typing Breaks (Keyboard::Typing Break)
- Keyboard Shortcuts (Keyboard Shortcuts)
- Mouse (combine(Mouse::Buttons, Mouse::Cursor, Mouse::Motion))
- Assistive Technology (Assistive Technology Support)
- Keyboard (Keyboard::Accessibility::Basic)
- Filter Keys (Keyboard::Accessibility::Filters)
- Mouse Keys (Keyboard::Accessibility::Mouse Keys)
Unsorted as of yet:
PalmOS Devices (Maybe in Autoplay)
- Network Proxy
- Font (maybe in Desktop?)
Have fun sorting those last ones.
The WHOLE administrative folder in the menu could be one control panel in itself, i.e. a subfolder of the Control Center. Don't collapse any of those apps, they're fine; though as said in Bug #7825, newer enhancements should be appropriately place, i.e. #7825 would become part of Users and Groups [and Security].