icons on desktop with xfce

Rich Shepard rshepard at appl-ecosys.com
Sat May 1 20:14:08 CEST 2004

On Sat, 1 May 2004 purslow at sympatico.ca wrote:

> that's what M$ users seem to do, but it's not the UNIX way: UNIX is built
> around tools -- programs -- which are applied to documents, whereas M$ &
> Mac try to dumb down the user's interface & choose which app to use to
> open his/her doc for him/her. XFCE is designed to be lightweight in using
> computer resources & elegant & easy to configure, but not to cater for
> nitwits.

  PMFJI, but I've ignored this thread until now.

  What purpose is served by application icons on the root window? They are
the GUI tool to invoke specific applications. Within Xfce there are at least
two tools available for the same purpose: the panel and the task bar (plus,
of course, user-configurable menus from the root window).

  Why not follow the Microshaft method of "clicking" on a data file and
having the appropriate application display it? Because that's highly
limiting and dependent on a restricted set of file extensions used to
identify the file. In linux (as in other unices -- but so far SCO has not
claimed ownership over this idea) files don't need extensions. Except for
some applications designed to appeal to those hesitating before jumping out
of the Windows. Take a PostScript or Portable Document Format file and
remove the extension -- gv or xpdf open them just fine because the file
format is encoded at the beginning of the file. Take any text editor (emacs,
vi, joe or the other three dozen) and they will work with any file
regardless of extension or lack thereof.

  For those who think that the Microsoft way is the one they prefer: use
Microsoft OSes and applications. If you want to use a true multitasking,
multiuser OS then learn how it functions. If you want to have your cake and
eat it too, then install KDE or Gnome; they are, by design, more Winduhs
like (so is xfwm2, btw). You have choices. Don't force those of us who do
_not_ want icons sprawled over the desktop so the root window looks like a
Redmond product to work your way. Leave us our choice and pick something
more to your liking if xfce doesn't suit you fully.

> novices who ask "Where are my desktop icons?" sb educated re XFCE how to
> & get what they want using XFCE's existing methods & tools. perhaps we
> need a doc 'XFCE for New Users': ok, mb i should write one, like my 'Lynx
> Help for Beginners'.

  Or, folks need to be made aware that there are choices other than xfce for
those who want something that looks and works differently. Several of my
SysAdmin friends don't like xfce because it's too cde-like and brings back
unpleasant memories of working on now-defunct UNIX flavors where that was
the only GUI available. I don't have that baggage but I've never liked what
Microsoft has wrought so I much prefer xfce as it is. Also, I don't like the
task bar; I prefer the mimimized application windows as icons. My fiancee
prefers the taskbar to the icons. We are each satisfied by the available


Dr. Richard B. Shepard, President
Applied Ecosystem Services, Inc. (TM)

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