[kde] Re: How do I remove the "new activity" item from the desktop?

Boyd Stephen Smith Jr. posted on Mon, 30 May 2011 10:49:17 -0500 as

In <4DE3A208.2050107@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Felix Miata wrote:
On 2011/05/30 03:51 (GMT-0700) John Woodhouse composed:
Frankly what it boils down to is I can't see the point in having a
largely empty screen. Many many others can't either.

I can't see the point of having any icons on the desktop.

Same here. I use a tiling window manager, so I only see the desktop
when I'm not already doing something. Excepting how I've used widgets
to partially replace all my Kicker applets, I really don't see a use for

I'd have probably replied under John W's sibling-to-yours reply, but as he
posted "upside down", screwing up the context quoting (please use standard
quote-context, reply-in-context, John, it drastically simplifies keeping
track of quoting and context in long threads)...

Long post, rather rambling, but perhaps it'll be interesting to people...
Among other things, there's some interesting info about X menus that might
be new to some... a screenshot link... and a description of all the system
monitors I run... Go ahead and skip it if none of that nor extended
ramblings on the thread at hand sound interesting...

On my desktop/workstation, I take the middle road.

I have dual 22" full-HD monitors, 1920x1080, stacked for
1920x2160. Reduced 256-color 1/3 size Screenshot here:
(That was the "good" shot on a report of bad panel
placement, bug #271532 if anyone's interested.)

That's enough screen real-estate to not have to be /too/ worried about
screen space (tho I'm hoping to upgrade to dual 42" monitors at some
point, same resolution but nearly 4X the display area!), and I have the
pseudo-xinerama options setup so apps maximize to only one monitor.

The bottom monitor is my "work" monitor, where I often run dual half-
maximized windows side-by-side (kwin's drag-to-side half-max is great for
this!), for konsole or browsers or compose-windows for replies like this.
Triple-pane apps such as my mail/news/rss clients (kmail/pan/akregator,
respectively) get "almost-maximized" to full width but just title-bar-
short of full-height, using kwin's window rules. This arrangement
conveniently allows me to work with the almost-maxed window and 1-2 half-
maxed windows all accessible, clicking in say akregator to open a browser
or pan to open a reply window, covering half the monitor, with the almost-
maxed window in the other half. Or I can have two half-maxed windows with
just the titlebars clickable behind the almost-maxed big window. It's an
arrangement that works very well on 1920-width monitors, since half-maxed
is then 960 width, generally enough to browse or type/read in a terminal
or reply window reasonably comfortably, with almost-maxed three-pane
windows comfortably sized as well, while still allowing access to the half-
maxed apps via the titlebar.

Because the bottom monitor /is/ my working monitor, I keep it pretty bare,
as I couldn't easily get to what's underneath it anyway. As you can see
in the screenshot, the only plasmoid on it is the comic strip plasmoid,
and most of the comics only update once a day anyway, so access to that
isn't as pressing.

I have one small auto-hide panel in the bottom left corner. It contains
two menu plasmoids, kickoff and the classic menu, set to bookmarks only,
and is small enough that if it unhides accidentally it doesn't cover
much. That leaves the entire bottom monitor for "work" use.

My use of the top monitor is VERY much different, however. It's my system-
monitor and auxiliary window monitor. As can be seen in the screenshot,
an always-on-top panel covers the top third of the monitor. The systray
and notifications are squeezed off to the left, with plenty of room for
icons (and I have it configured to always show all of them). The rest of
the panel is a series of yasp-scripted (yet another system-monitor
plasmoid, scripted, it's on kde-look) plasmoids, eight of them lined up
side by side on the panel. The first two monitor CPU activity, dual dual-
cores so four cores, each plotting user/system/nice/wait/total activity.
#3 is memory
(app/buffer/cache/used) and load (1/5/15 minute). #4 is temps, the four
core temps on top (and I've added a fifth, the graphics temp, since the
screenshot), the four drive (sata, md/kernel RAIDed) temps underneath.
#5 is more temps (cpu sockets #1 and 2, northbridge area, top/exhaust,
i/o) on top, fans (both sockets, top/exhaust, rear/exhaust) beneath.
#6 is net activity (four plotters each 8X the previous, so I can
reasonably plot both full throttle and incidental activity). #7 (the wide
one) is the last 20-some syslog entries. And #8 is time and top, with the
time and date, last gentoo tree sync date, the boot date, the day and week
of the year, unix time, and UTC, for times. Under that is the the top 5
CPU and memory users, followed finally by how much I'm into swap (normally
0, with 6 gigs of RAM, until I go doing several package build jobs in
parallel with their build dir in tmpfs).

The bottom 2/3 of the top monitor, under the system monitor panel, is
"auxiliary" space. It's HERE that I put the various desktop plasmoids I
want reasonably easy access to, and HERE that overflow windows and
auxiliary stuff like media player windows, go. The single row of icons to
the left is a folderview. (Now that I'm looking at the screenshot again,
I see this isn't quite normal, as it's up under the top panel, instead of
between the panel and the bottom monitor, as it should be. That's a minor
side effect misplacement triggered by the bug that screenshot is
associated with.) The two starred folder icons inside-top, left and
right, are quickaccess plasmoids (plasmoid from kde-look), with folder-
menu type behavior similar to that of a folderview placed on a panel, but
allowing browsing of subdirs in flyout menus instead of directly opening
the dirs in the filemanager as folderview normally does. There's also yawp
(yet another weather plasmoid, again from kde-look).

Just as the bottom left corner is a hot-corner bringing up the auto-hide
panel with kickoff and the bookmark menu, so the top left corner is a hot-
corner triggering desktop-grid, with embedded present-windows of course.
But scrolling on the desktop is set to switch virtual desktops and part of
the top (sysmon/auxiliary) desktop is nearly always exposed, so that's
what I use most frequently.

Notably I do *NOT* have a task manager plasmoid running at all. I use alt-
tab (set to flip-switch effect) for occasional task-switching, but given
the available screen realestate, the four virtual desktops I run, and the
previously described half-max/almost-max setup I use so frequently on my
bottom/working monitor, focus-follows-mouse with click-to-raise and
scrolling on the desktop to change virtual desktops accomplishes most of
my task switches. The mentioned desktop grid is also available, but in
practice, it probably activates accidentally due to hot-corner triggering
more often than I actually use it. I have middle-click on the desktop set
to activate the switch-window menu, too, but rarely use it, either.
However, if I want a list similar to what a traditional taskbar would give
me, the desktop-middle-click switch-window-menu is the alternative I use.

Meanwhile, if you'll note, while I DO have some stuff on the (auxiliary)
desktop and the workflow management methods described above assume direct
desktop access for desktop switching in particular, as well as desktop
plasmoid access, I don't **COVER** the desktop in plasmoids/icons. I
never have. That has always seemed to me untidy and messy, and would
drive me to distraction.

Rather, I depend very much on the symlinks technique John mentioned.
Instead of placing a hundred (more?) files/icons on the desktop (or now in
kde4, in folderview widgets on the desktop, etc), I only place a very few
directly on the desktop (or the single desktop folderview), with most of
those being either directories or symlinks to directories.

Actually, this is a technique I developed back on Windows 95 and refined
with the folderview panels in Windows 98, before I upgraded to Linux when
it became clear MS eXPrivacy was going some place I simply wasn't going to
go. (Ironically, I was quite active in the IE/OE4, 5, and 5.5 betas, and
for a time considered targetting MSMVP. But shortly after Windows 98 it
became very clear that MS and I were headed different directions, and I
began looking at alternatives including Linux. While by 2000 or so I
considered Linux superior, however, and would have preferred starting with
it if I were just starting, however, I was hesitant to dump a decade of MS
experience and may have never actually made the switch, had MS not
actively pushed me, by introducing the eXPrivacy anti-features that I
predicted would set a bad precedent, one that I was simply NOT going to
get involved with. It was that precedent Sony followed with its MS
Windows rootkit -- after all, if MS can do it, why can't Sony? They were
both only defending their so-called "intellectual property", after all,
using similar MS based technologies. Anyway, it was the push MS gave me
by making very clear that they were including those anti-features in the
same release I had previously I had been looking forward to as the final
switch to full 32-bit, that finally pushed me off the edge. I jumped off
the for me very clearly sinking MS ship, and after discovering the new-
found freedoms of freedomware, quickly became *VERY* happy I had done so.
So ironically, in a very real way, I have MS to thank for finally pushing
me to Linux! =:^)

The idea, at its simplest, is to create ONE directory, ONE icon on the
desktop, and have everything else that would normally be on the desktop,
in a 1-2 layer deep tree below that ONE desktop icon.

By late MS Windows 95, it was possible for advanced users to create
"virtual" folders pointed at arbitrary directories elsewhere in the tree,
using registry hacks, and there was at least one GUI tool that allowed
users to do this. These functioned within the MS Windows GUI at least
(tho not at the command line) much like rather limited Unix style symlinks,
or MS style shortcuts, to other directories (only, not to files).

I began using those to create "symlinks" (tho I didn't know them by that
name, yet) to various places, C:\, various media directories, etc, in the
single directory I had on my desktop.

With the IE4 ActiveDesktop update, later to become a native part of MS
Windows 98, MS introduced the concept of multiple panels. I don't recall
all the available functionality, tho it was pretty limited compared to
what I'd later find in KDE and Gnome on Linux, but one of the panel types
was a folder view which could be pointed at any arbitrary directory.
These panels could be configured as always on top or autohide, much like
the original MS Windows 95 taskbar. One of the neat features was that
directories flew out as additional menus, so one could browse entire
directory subtrees from the panel, finally selecting a file or directory
to open in the associated application. IIRC, similar to the Start menu by
this time, they also allowed context-clicking on an entry to bring up the
usual file-association context choices, plus copy-to/move-to/DOS-here, if
you had the appropriate powertoys installed (as I did, naturally).
Actually, this bit of context-menu-on-a-menu-item functionality is still
pretty much non-existent on Linux today, I believe due to X menu window
limitations (only one at once). As a result, exceptions, where they
appear, tend to be of the type found for example in kickoff, if you
context-click on a favorite or an applications menu entry. They are
possible because the kickoff menu is NOT a traditional X menu, but rather,
a non-menu window programmed to fake a menu. Since kickoff itself is not
a menu window, but rather, a more normal window implementing its own non-X-
menu menu, it's possible to context click on the "fake" menu and get a
"real" X menu context-menu. But I DO still miss MS Windows' ability to do
a context menu on a real menu...

Anyway, between the two (the IE4/AD panels and the virtual filesystem
"fakelinks" implemented thru registry entries), I had it setup so the
folder view panel had several directories, real or vfs/fakelink, that when
clicked, flew out submenus that allowed me to browse pretty much the
entire filesystem with only about three flyout menu levels, and most of
the stuff I accessed frequently at only one or at most two such menus
deep. As a result, I was able to clean up most of the few icons I did
still have on the desktop, tho I believe I kept one. (Very early on in
MSW95, I had used the registry hacks around to make the desktop my
computer entry a transparent icon and rename it a shorter "MC", and IIRC I
removed the trash/recycle icon entirely, either then or as soon as a
powertool/power-user-regedit trick became available to me to do so. So
the only icon long-term on the desktop was that single directory icon, tho
I usually had 3-7 others on the desktop temporarily as well... until the
flyout menu thing, at which time they disappeared too, leaving just the

Naturally, when MS pushed and I finally did jump to Linux, full-time (I
had tried it before that, but never was one to like rebooting, so until I
was determined to switch, I never spent enough time on Linux to really get
comfortable with it, thus, that boot choice tended to just sit there...),
I was absolutely **THRILLED** to discover **REAL** symlinks! To this day,
a decade later this year, I find myself fascinated with the almost
"magical" power and yet simplicity of Unix style symlinks. (FWIW, bind-
mounts are similarly fascinating to me, particularly as individual files
can be bind-mounted, with all the exec/noexec, suid/nosuid, dev/nodev,
read-write/read-only, etc, mount options and the control they provide.
bind-mount is at the admin level what a symlink is at the user level. =:^)

And I still use much the same icons-on-the-desktop techniques and policies
I developed on MS -- put only a few icons on the desktop, but let them be
directories full of fakelinks/symlinks to the various locations one
normally stores stuff, and have a "working" directory or two as locations
among the several others.

That's also why I searched for and installed as soon as I found the quick-
access plasmoid on kde-look, since it allows the same browse-by-menu
technique that was working so well for me back a decade ago on MS. Of
course, on Linux, due to the one-menu-window-at-a-time restriction
explained above, the implementation is as with kickoff, popup windows
implementing their own in-place menus instead of X menus with flyouts as
on MS back then, so a context-click can popup a real X-menu context menu
when necessary.

So as I said, middle-of-the-road. I keep my working monitor almost bare
since it's covered under many circumstances anyway, and don't allow my aux
monitor to get too cluttered with icons or plasmoids, either. But I do
have a few, and chose to put the ones I do allow on the desktop to good

Then there's the netbook. With a very limited 1024x800 screen and that
quite small, it's pretty much the opposite of my dual-monitor workstation.
There's no desktop real-estate to spare on it. I have kwin setup to
maximize even most dialog windows, and there's absolutely nothing but
wallpaper on the desktop. There's a small autohide menu to the bottom
left, desktop-grid (which I use a LOT on the netbook, since nearly
everything including dialog windows is full-screen so there's no desktop
available to scroll-switch on!) at the top left, and the system monitors,
etc, on the dashboard, which I have configured as a separate activity.

On both systems I use hotkey launching (with a special hotkey launcher
script I wrote myself) for most frequently used apps, thus bypassing
kickoff, and use krunner much of the rest of the time. Kickoff is thus
reserved for when I'm exploring apps I don't normally run enough to have
found a place in my hotkey launcher, and further, don't even run enough to
remember their names in ordered to krunner them. Thus, "exploring" is the
right word, since if I'm using kickoff, I'm either searching for an app I
don't remember the name of, or looking at just what I /do/ have installed,
when I'm looking for a new game, or something.

Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman

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