A desktop environment is what you get when you add to a window manager other functionalities. Window managers in RULE have a separate page. This page, instead, collects some notes about these extra functionalities that constitute a full blown GNU/Linux desktop environment and wether RULE should support them, that is include the corresponding packages in its installation options.
For the kind of GNU/Linux desktops we are targeting, icons, panels and multiple workspaces, while not bad in and by themselves, are not something to worry too much about. When you have small screens and 16 colours cards, thing may get ugly otherwise. As far as panels are concerned, they have two main uses:
- line up icons to click when you want to start a program, or
- host some system monitoring mini-window, telling you if you have new mail, RAM consumption, etc…
The first use can be substituted completely by root window menus, and the second one provided by gkrellm or any other specific application(s) made just for this purposes. People who need a panel may be helped with FS-Panel. In this way, everything is modular, and optimized for low resources, without giving up any real functionality. We also want something which:
- is fully useable without the mouse
- has windows with small borders, but enough buttons/keyboard shortcuts to maximize (possibly vertically only too), close, lower, raise, minimize, resize.
- can bind through a configuration file, not at compile time, any command you could run from the prompt to an entry in the root menu
- choose at run time the focus model
- (optional, but cool!) can re-read sub-menus from files every time you open them.
Classical example of use of such a feature is grabbing headlines online with some web client script, and dump their titles and URLS into a file. If that file is formatted properly, you open the sub-menu “news” in the main root menu, click on some interesting argument, and your browser is launched directly on the corresponding URL.
I personally don’t use it, but there are lots of people that may find it useful. Of course, when it only means “always start with the same apps, in the same positions on the screen”, .xinitrc is all we need, but it would be nice to have it for real.