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[20060710] In search of a slim "desktop"
Usually, my computer's desktop is either cluttered with webbrowser or terminal windows. But ocassionally, I'm a friend of a "desktop" environment, where I can operate on files using a "point and click" interface, move files with the mouse et.

I've been searching for a slim desktop environment for my 192MB, 500MHz laptop recently. I didn't want huge things like KDE, GNOME or even XFce, as they all come with ways too much stuff that I don't want. What I want is icons on the desktop, a filemanager, preferably drag&drop support, and something to tell which of the programs I use anyways to run when clicking a file. No bazillion of icons, apps, etc.

Programs I've stumled across in my search are:

  • idesk: nice, but no dragging of icons, any new icon needs to be made by editing a config file. No thanks!
  • xtdesk: not in pkgsrc, and it doesn't seem to support drag'n'drop either.
  • fbdesk: As I'm using fluxbox on my laptop, this sounded interesting. Handling of the icons isn't very comfortable, the popup menue sticks around a lot, and overall it's not very confortable, too.
  • tkdesk: I have good memories of that one from some years ago, but when running the binary package that's available for NetBSD 2.0/i386, it dumps core immediately. Not very encouraging.
  • rox: This is not a desktop program, but a file manager. Seems pretty decent (in contrast to some of the others that I've looked at... I even don't remember any names any more).
So that's the end of the list, and no winner? When I was close to going back to the xterms and typing I had another look at the 'rox' filer's homepage and saw that it can manage the root window too, and that's exactly what I'm using now:

The above image shows fluxbox as a windowmanager with the PanthFlux theme, pine as my favourite mail client for reading not only spam, gqmpeg with the CoronerQ for playing mp3s and a 'rox' filer window with some files in it. The root windows is managed by the 'rox' filer too, displaying a custom background image, a bunch of icons for programs I use frequently plus right now only one file that I'm editing frequently, which is configured to bring up an editor.

All this works fine in 192MB RAM, 'rox' needs about 10MB (5MB resident), which is OK so far. My conflusion: rox rocks!

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