You want to assign short-cuts to your function (F1-F12) keys.
The basic shortcuts:
1. Browse to System>Preferences>Keyboard Shortcuts
The more advanced shortcuts:
1. Open a terminal and enter:
$sudo apt-get install gconf-editor2. Click "ALT+F2"
3. Type in "gconf-editor"
4. Browse to apps/metacity/global_keybindings
5. Here you can change the values for each "run_command". As is shown in the example (above).
4. Now browse to "keybinding_commands"
5. Here change the corresponding command (e.g. if you set run_command_10 to F10, then here you will have to change command_10). It is difficult for me to suggest any particularly useful command, however, any command that you run in the terminal can be run from here. As an example my commands do the following:
F1 - opens a terminal
F2 - opens gedit (text editor)
F3 - opens nautilus
F4 - opens nautilus as root
Ctrl-Alt-Del - opens up the gnome system monitor
If you would like suggestions please comment.