Goals for next Xfce releases

Björn Martensen bjoern.martensen at gmail.com
Sun Jan 28 14:30:41 CET 2007

Well, I'm not a Xfce dev (as you probably might know ;D) but I'd like to
give my ideas anyway since I really like the way 4.4 moved to from 4.2,
which I did not like that much.

On Sun, 2007-01-28 at 13:09 +0100, Jasper Huijsmans wrote:

> Consolidate Platform
> ====================
> - Settings daemon. No gui, use D-Bus to get/set values and listen for
>   changes. Dialogs are started from .desktop files. This will make it easier
>   to combine the interface for settings from different packages
>   (keyboard shortcuts for instance), if we want that.
>   Needs to depend on X for xsettings :( Or should that be separate?
>   Or maybe we should just use GConf? It still depends on CORBA, I guess...

I don't really like gconf. I prefer simple rc files in the fd.o basedir
and that stuff, just as 4.4 does atm.

> - New infrastructure?
>   - There is a notification daemon, are there programs that would like
>     to depend on this?

I think the whole galago stuff with notification daemon is nice, but
maybe instead of having almost the same thing twice (gnome's and xfce's
n-d), perhaps there could be settled out a way to create one only.
Currently I'm using gnome's n-d because the arch linux package for
xfce4-n-d has to be set up while notification-daemon just works out of
the box without altering any dbus paths, but that's up to the package
maintainers of course.
However, I still think _one_ desktop independent notification-daemon
would be best.

> Core Desktop
> ============
> Window manager
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> For me xfwm4 does everything I want it to, so I've no ideas for 4.6.

maybe some OpenGL speed improvements or optionally use glucose (if it
ever comes...)

> Desktop manager
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Do we want a separate program to manage the background or should it be
> part of thunar? How about the desktop menu?

The current implementation lacks multiple selection via rubber banding,
imho. I think this could be fixed with using thunar for the desktop, and
the thunar daemon runs anyway..
But I think the menu is an important aspect. Gnome currently uses a
"windows like" way with only showing desktop actions, xfce shows only
the apps menu. For desktop actions you have to select an existing
desktop item, which makes using the desktop for files and folders to
quickly create a folder to put stuff in a bit slow and that's one reason
why I still prefer a clean desktop without any stuff over one with files
and folders, because it's just not that usable.
I'm not sure though, what's the best solution here.

> Panel
> ~~~~~
> - Separate desktop files for launcher items. Someone mentioned this
>   recently, I think it was benny. I'm not convinced this is necessary.
>   We already use the same structure (Name,Icon,Exec,etc...), but the
>   launcher items are not stand-alone programs, they are programs +
>   options, so we can have 10 terminals with different arguments. Why
>   would we want separate files for that?

using fd.o desktop files is the best way to have one way of dealing with
launchers, imho, so I'd prefer this.

> - DND of (desktop) files directly to the panel. Yeah, that would be
>   interesting. It's not easy, since there is no free space on the panel
>   to drop anything on. It also requires launcher items to be special,
>   but I don't really have a problem with that.

Would make life easier to create launchers in the panel. It's a bit
messy atm, sorry ;)
And since dnd from the appfinder to the desktop creates a launcher
there, I'd expect it to work with the panel too, although I never use
that feature really.

> File manager
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~
> No lack of ideas here, I believe. One from me: do we want to try and
> integrate with Tracker for searching? It does sound more in line with
> our philosophy than Beagle.

Tracker is really nice. Especially the last release some days ago
(0.5.4) is even much faster than the previous release, which was pretty
fast even then. Trackerd is fast in indexing and searching and has a
very low memory footprint and doesn't slow down the systom noticable.
Not even on my parents' p3 733. It works quite well and is actively
developed. Integrating it like spotlight in Mac OS X would be nice, not
only for gnome but also for all desktops.
And it has very few dependencies esp. compared to beagle.

Other things I'd like to see in thunar are a twin pane view such as
Jens' filer has, which is great when you have to move and copy files
often and I think it's better than tabs in a file manager, an undo
action if you moved files into a wrong dir by accident for example and
maybe an improvement to the archive plugin to open archives directly in
thunar like a folder (I liked that feature in filer too).

> Apps/Utilities
> ==============
> No real ideas from me here. I'll just list the apps we have now:

I still miss a nice and clean gtk+ ftp client that works well, gftp is
quite a mess in usability, imho, so that's for an idea ;D
(if possible, a ftp plugin plus twin pane view would be great, imho)

> - Printing. I never use it, so I have no complaints ;-)

Imho Xfprint should be removed and the gtk 2.10 printing dialog should
be used in all apps that need printing support.

> - Mixer/Volume. Works for me at home, but at work I have a USB headset
>   and the mixer plugin always falls back to the soundcard, so I guess it
>   could still be improved. It also uses GOB, which IMO sucks, sorry
>   Danny.

I miss an option to configure the volume of sound capturing like a
microphone. Currently I have to use alsamixer for that, as xfmixer just
only has faders for playback.

> - Text editor. Mousepad is a cute little application, nothing to add
>   from me.

Maybe some syntax highlighting would be nice in mousepad.

> - Archiver. We have two, which seems a little redundant, but that is
>   fine with me.

I really like both of them but I think squeeze will turn out the better
integrated one for xfce (sorry, Giuseppe ;))

> - CD Burning. I sometimes use this, and it has a nice interface. JF is
>   doing a good job with it.

I tried it some time ago but it wasn't working that well back then. I
switched to brasero, which will remove gnome dependencies in the future,
according to the developer. I think brasero looks better than xfburn.
But I really like the work on libburnia support which has been done in
both brasero and xfburn. I'll keep an eye on xfburn for sure.

Well, that's so far about Xfce. In general I think the way you took is
the right one, by using fd.o standards and keeping dependencies low and
such. 4.4 has become really great over the time (used svn versions for
quite some time) and I'm really impressed by all your work. Thanks a lot
for it.

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