v4.x Desktop Icons
Forum: DSL Ideas and Suggestions
Topic: v4.x Desktop Icons
started by: roberts
Posted by roberts on Dec. 01 2007,15:07There has been much discussion on desktop icons in 4.x. So I have decided to poll the community.
Keep in mind that DSL does not normally run on systems with 1280x1024 resolution.
In fact many system have very limited screen size. I would have to say that desktop icons must fit at least on a 640x480 screen.
If you select option 3, please post your recommended additional desktop icons in a reply post.
Posted by lucky13 on Dec. 01 2007,15:51Most of my DSL use is on a monitor with 800x600 resolution and a few 32x32 icons take up plenty space already. Keep it clean. The most commonly used icons are already in the tray by default. There's also already a menu. How many apps do people open with icons before resorting to the menu anyway? Or are there really people who minimize everything so they can find an icon to launch things?
Posted by humpty on Dec. 01 2007,16:36icon dillo (with default to getting_started.html), instead of tray.
icon firefox (instead of tray)
icon control panel
Posted by curaga on Dec. 01 2007,18:23When I first got DSL 3.2, one of the first things I did was cut down the icons to 8..
I say use only 2 icons: Home folder, FF
Posted by Onyarian on Dec. 01 2007,19:04In Fluxbox:
Posted by mikshaw on Dec. 01 2007,20:30I have no opinion, so I'm not going to reply.
Posted by combi on Dec. 02 2007,00:55Uhh got into a hot discussion about end-users .. ;-)
I am using and extending my 3.x DSL-system at the time
didn't have so much time to look at the 4.0 Release.
One Question : In 3.x You can add and remove the desktop-Icons on your own .. just how You like it
Isn't that possible in 4.0
If Yes :What is this discussion about ?
My suggestion : start with as few Icons as possible and let the user add more when he likes .
I really wonder What this discussion is about ... aren't all things reachable from the menu
Posted by jpeters on Dec. 02 2007,02:30
Yea, and we know how much you love icons. Why are the options limited to only 22?
Posted by stupid_idiot on Dec. 02 2007,02:48I am okay with the full 22 icons as long as the 'noicons' boot option still works - no sarcasm intended.
Posted by mikshaw on Dec. 02 2007,03:47
It seems the question of the specific starting icons stems from a recent post that suggests the majority of non-expert computer users tend to limit their focus to whatever is available on the desktop. I won't argue with this claim because I agree with it. I've known many users who focus *all* of their computing on what is immediately visible on the desktop, save all files to the desktop, and have no knowledge of anything other than what can be seen on the desktop. Directory structure, PATH, and shell have no meaning to these users, and I wouldn't be surprised if many have never used a desktop ("start") menu.
Posted by jpeters on Dec. 02 2007,05:34
Unfortunately, that won't work for DSL. First, they need to get their wireless card working. Then, they need to figure out how to mount drives, save to a persistent drive, backup and configure their settings depending on their particular install, etc., Next, they need to learn what an extension is, the entire basis of DSL. By this time, they will have had to use a command window, something foreign to most windows users. Soon they'll be on the forum, getting exposed to terminology that window's users have never heard before, and having to perform tasks that require use of scripts.
Posted by roberts on Dec. 02 2007,05:54
I don't think that most users would have such a negative experience as you describe. Many on wired routers and boot and play. Wireless is not easy in any distro, and with new wireless cards/chips comming out eveyday. It is not easy. Same goes for encryption schemes. Also true is the challenge of users trying to use new devices made long after the target hardware, which results in irq conflicts.
MyDSL extension use in 4.x is much easier than 3.x for first time use, e.g., just boot with mydsl=hda3 and the folder will be created and setup with proper permissions. That is alot different than 3.x where this step had to be done manaully and first time used, users had to face emelfm to copy extensions to the newly manually created directory. After this initial setup it becomes easy. This initial setup is now automatic.
There should little to no reason to use CLI for intended use of DSL as a liveCD / frugal installation.
I think many do not yet know the constant efforts I do to try to make the experience easier.
I also believe many try to use 4.x on an existing 3.x mydsl structure which results in problems.
4.x is very different than 3.x. But many seem to want 4.x to morph into 3.x. It won't.
Posted by jpeters on Dec. 02 2007,07:06
..and you've done amazingly well at it, although despite your best efforts, there is going to be a learning curve. The end result, however, is a fast, efficient, flexible OS that runs on minimal resources. In contrast, here's a snip from the latest PC Magazine, Dvorak's "Inside Track"
" The Vista Fizzle Dept: The continuing negative buzz around Vista is becoming deafening as more and more users moan and groan about how unusable the new OS is. Personally, I still have not switched, because I know it will be agonizing in some way or another. The most common complaint I hear from people whose opinions I respect is that Vista is so annoyingly slow that it forces you to revert back to XP at your earliest chance. Since this product was developed during the reign of Bill Gates as 'chief software architect,' he should step up to the podium and take full responsibility and apologize for it himself."
How would you like a review like that?
Posted by john.martzouco on Dec. 02 2007,15:55Yes, mikshaw explains the discussion perfectly. The thread that spawned this poll can be found < here. >
I'm thinking hard about how I want to vote in this poll. Personally, I'm of the same mind as most of you that a clean desktop is the best thing tolook at. The two machines that I use the most are set up with a plain black background, no icons at all. I've assigned keyboard shortcuts to all of my favorite apps (Firefox, text editor etc) and rely on application associations to open up my data files (what Robert refers to as document-centric). Like you, I'm a veteran computer user who has developed many sophisticated ways to navigate the system with little effort.
The laptop, however, and my DSL desktops all have many icons. For convenience, or because of beginner ignorance, this works better on these machines.
I generally use the laptop from a location where I'm sitting awkwardly and find that I make more typos; the desktop icons streamline my access to data and I'm grateful that I can negotiate the system without the frustration of having to correct spelling mistakes or hit small targets on command menus due to the poor ergonomics.
And since I'm new to DSL, my Linux desktop icons keep reminding me of what's available on the system. As time goes by, I'm sure that I'll clear this desktop as I learn to execute all the apps from a console with <command &> syntax. For now, it's a challenge to remember which letters make up the name of the [image_viewer] app.
It's much, much quicker to erase desktop icons than it is to navigate the directories and copy them all to the desktop. So, I don't mind erasing them when I'm ready.
And copying them to the desktop doesn't organize them in clean row, column alignment [it's very free-flow currently and I haven't found the switch to control this], so the prepared desktop has advantages in organization and as well.
The point that I always come back to is: "For whom are you building this OS?"
If you (I wish I could say 'we' but I haven't learned enough yet to be much help) want to attract new users and have them adopt DSL, then you should continue to offer them an "at your fingertips" desktop. This guarantees that they can quickly learn how much this distribution can offer straight out of the box and will give them the momentum they need to reach for it before anything else.
Posted by lucky13 on Dec. 02 2007,18:09
That's the wrong paradigm for DSL 4. With DSL 4, the concept isn't what applications are on the system, but rather what data YOU have on the system. Your files are linked to what's available so you drive the system from your files -- your data -- rather than by opening an application and then searching for the data. That's why you only need your /home/dsl folder on the desktop. If you don't want to edit with beaver, change the file association to what you use. If you don't want to open a link or local html with dillo, edit dfmext to associate it with what you want. You can do the same in pre-4 versions using emelfm or even mc (or even with rox since it has MIME-type associations and is also a drag and drop desktop), but dfm moves it to the desktop and integrates everything better without being heavy on the system.
That's fine, but you can make it easier on yourself if you edit your .bashrc so you have auto-completion and then you needn't remember every name (type letters and tabs until you get what you want). I don't know if zsh's spell-checking fixes the case issue, but that's another option if you want to use a terminal to open applications; alternatively, you can symlink with all lower case for apps that have some caps. I don't know why you'd need to resort to a terminal if you're using keybindings.
Edit: If you want to use an app-centric approach via terminal, another option is to symlink or alias the applications with what they do -- e.g., link or alias xzgv to viewer, dillo/firefox to browser, beaver to editor, etc. I think it's kind of clunky to do all that when things have been done to make it more convenient out of the box, but whatever works for you. (end edit)
As far as icons versus menu goes, I don't know how much more "at your fingertips" things can get. The menu in jwm is a lot more familiar to those migrating from other operating systems than the one in fluxbox. There are already icons in the tray. There's already an icon for applications.
Is DSL oriented for "new users" or "older hardware" or both, and what's the compromise to be struck between the two positions? New users should be able to navigate the menu. Users of older hardware, including monitors with resolutions below 1024x768, shouldn't have to start deleting icons or turn off dfm by default. That's why I'm stuck with my position that a few desktop icons -- ~/, / as root, applications, and mydsl -- are sufficient and the rest can go in the tray and/or menu.
Posted by jpeters on Dec. 02 2007,18:46I think auto-completion is on by default
Posted by john.martzouco on Dec. 02 2007,20:26Okay, I've thought it over and this is how I think we can best serve new users and users in hurried or cramped situations.
I've tried to use edges intelligently and grouped similar programs on each row by function. Easiest and most often used near the top and at the left.
This is essentially all of the 3.x icons plus the 4.x icons plus a Backup icon minus the redundant MyDSL icon.
I've also thought long and hard about the menu icons and I think the JWM default of showing them is the best way to serve newcomers, those less familiar and those in a hurry. We just need to use a nicer, more homogenous collection; I fancy the set that shows the peppermint lifesaver (as GIMP uses).
21 desktop icons arranged and labeled as follows:
Posted by roberts on Dec. 02 2007,23:44I am at lost for words. Especially with all the critism that was leveled at 4.0. Looks like 3.x and 4.x bumped into each other. This is not approach I have in mind.
Ultimately Desktop Icons are a matter of personal choice. I would have to say starting clean and let the user decide on what his desktop should look like is better.
Having an Apps folder is so obvious, so easy. as well as the menu, I am not going to entertain further discusson.
Thanks for those who particpated both in written discussion and votes.