icons on desktop with xfce

Brian J. Tarricone bjt23 at cornell.edu
Sat May 1 23:31:48 CEST 2004

Sami Samhuri wrote:

>>It was Sat, May 01, 2004 at 02:08:24PM -0500 when Erick said:
>>one of the reasons why I use xfce is the lack of icons on the desktop.  
>This is meant for everyone who has been saying "don't force us to use
>desktop icons in xfce!" ... I don't like desktop icons either, but no
>one is forcing anyone into anything. Even if xfce4 had desktop icon
>support, you don't have to use it. If you don't put any icons on your
>desktop (and none come on it by default) then you won't even notice the
>support is there, right? I say if the xfce programmers want to support
>icons, go for it. If not, no skin off our backs.
thank you - this seems like the first sane opinion in this thread, 
rather than the usual, "i think desktop icons are stupid so there's no 
reason to implement them."

my current plan is that xfdesktop 4.4 will have desktop icon support.  
those of you following CVS will know that i recently rewrote the desktop 
menu system, and moved it into dynamically-loadable module.  this gives 
two benefits: 1) people that don't want to use it can disable it 
entirely with no memory or performance impact, and 2) it can be used 
elsewhere (like in the desktop menu panel plugin i also wrote).  the 
desktop icon support will be just like this.

my desktop icon plans are pretty much the same.  i really like olivier's 
mini-filemanager idea, so likely desktop icons will just be a kind of 
"canvas widget" on which you can place icons, and will have some 
facility for using directory listings for this purpose.  you can put 
folders on the desktop, and if you open it, you'll get a popup window 
that is just another instance of this canvas, but with window 
decorations, a menu, toolbar, etc.  the canvas will support three 
somewhat-distinct objects: launchers, files, and directories.  launchers 
will actually just be .desktop files that will be handled smartly by the 
canvas.  directories will, as i said, open up popup windows.  files will 
either just open an "open with" dialog, or will hook into edscott's xffm 
stuff, or shared-mime-info if that's easier.  (i really see no need to 
reimplement filetype associations when everyone else has done it a 
million times.)

Rich Shepard wrote:

>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.
i do believe there is utility in file associations.  if i'm opening a 
document from a terminal, i can easily type something like 'emacs 
filename'.  but when i'm using the mouse, that can be a bit of a pain 
since it involves moving my hand back to the keyboard.  sure, you have 
to teach it what apps to load for particular extensions (or, by using a 
magic file to guess mimetypes), but that's (hopefully) a one-time deal.

personally, i find file extensions quite useful.  files on unix/linux 
don't inherently have advanced metadata, and, even if they did, 'ls' 
won't tell me about it.  file extensions are also more portable.  if i 
send "foo.pdf" to my friend, i know that he'll know it's a pdf file, 
regardless of what kind of filesystem he's using.  furthermore, i don't 
care if gv or xpdf can open a file just fine without an extension.  
without that extension, _i_ don't know what to give it to to open it.  
sure, i can run 'file', but that's just an extra step.  i'm lazy and 
impatient.  and what if 'file' doesn't know either?  as to your final 
comment: 'vi foo.pdf' doesn't really do anything useful for me, thanks.  
thinking that file extensions are useless is just a braindead position 
to take, IMO.

so, the short version:  xfce will indeed support desktop icons.  why?  
because some people find them useful.  for those of you who don't want 
them, you can disable them with a click, and it'll be like they were 
never there.  (personally, i probably wouldn't use them, but i think 
they're a worthwhile model and probably fun to code.)


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