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The initial Mint display is, well, dull. Fortunately, it's easy to liven it up.
A right click on the background will let you pick a more attractive background image.
After some adjustments, I now have a more more interesting and useful desktop. If I want to bring one of those applications from the menu button to the main desktop, I right click on the app's icon and choose to place it on my desktop. Once there, I can move them to where I like.