I've just noticed something that differs between my use of my Linux desktop and how I used to do things back in Windows. I never put anything on my GNOME desktop. No links, no folders, no documents, nothing. I use the quicklaunch bar a lot, but not the desktop. My old Windows desktop used to be full of rows of links to programs, folders, etc.
Hmm. I can't even figure out why, either. Perhaps I just haven't needed to put anything on the desktop, as it's easier to get to in other ways.