Ok, here I am at DrupalCon Paris blogging about Linux. WTF? Sorry, sorry, but I'm blogging this before I forget how I did it.
Note: This is written with Fedora 10 and Gnome. Apparently KDE has a desktop zoom feature which sounds like it achieves the same thing more easily. Although this is Fedora 10, I guess it should work for any Gnome desktop.
If you have a small-screened laptop or netbook (in my case, an EEE PC 901) and you want to "zoom out" your desktop and applications but can't go to a larger screen resolution, what do you do? With Gnome it's a two step process:
1. Open Nautilus (AKA open a directory in the GUI - any directory), go to Edit -> Preferences and you will see a load of zoom options. I set them all the 66%. This will shrink all your folder lists, desktop icons, directory icons, etc. etc. What it *won't* do is shrink your main command bars (task bar, browser tabs, title bars, applications menus, etc.)
2. Go to System -> Preferences -> Look and Feel -> Appearance, then click on the Fonts tab. Here you can select the font size for all the different areas of the screen. I set most of them to 6pt to get a "zoomed out" effect.
That's as far as it goes, but it should be enough to get you a more sensible amount of working space on netbook screens. It's not a true "zoom" feature, but it does free up a surprising amount of room.