What is your ideal desktop experience?

Which desktop paradigm would you prefer?

  • Dock (ala. macOS/NeXTSTEP)

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • Taskbar (ala. Windows)

    Votes: 6 12.8%
  • Panel (ala. Classic Gnome)

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • Minimalist (is. WM)

    Votes: 25 53.2%
  • Other..

    Votes: 6 12.8%

  • Total voters
    47

Beastie7

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 576
Messages: 688

This is just a thought experiment to gauge what the general FreeBSD community prefers or likes in a desktop experience. I have an idea I’d like to tinker with, but I’d like to start with user feedback first. If you can, also please explain what the “feel” would be for you as well; ie. Compositing features, client/server side decorations, default tooling/apps, etc.

Thanks :)
 

Cthulhux

Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 175
Messages: 337

My favorite desktop experience has always been - and probably will remain - Window Maker - but I deliberately checked Minimalist above, because the dock is the least interesting part of it. :)
CDE would come out as a close second, because it is a coherent desktop with no obvious third-party alien parts.
 

scottro

Daemon

Reaction score: 866
Messages: 2,019

I like fairly, but not completely simple. I generally use openbox with a background I made that I like (and hey, one of my co-workers, not knowing I'd made it, said it was beautiful) <stops to take modest bow> and have it configured so that I can open my frequently used programs (terminals and browsers) with keystrokes. I use tint2 as my task bar, which doesn't, as far as I know, launch programs, just keeps track of them.
My other favorite is dwm, which again, has keystrokes to open most used programs, and also uses dmenu (which allows you to open programs). I use it with one of the move resize patches so that I can use it as a stacking window manager if I prefer. At work, where I have a multi-monitor setup, dwm is better because I can go to a different tag (think workspaces) on one monitor and the others stay the same.
 

garry

Active Member

Reaction score: 104
Messages: 118

This is just a thought experiment

I ran a series of usability experiments on some "desktops". In each experiment I search for way to access the working documents, folders, tools for each of my current tasks, e.g. one task is broadly "Courses" and another is more specifically "IIT Kanpur -- Introduction to Programming in C". I should be able to put any item for the task (its zim notebook, the pdf for a textbook, a web url, or any other unix file object) on the desktop or on a shelf (dock or panel) by drag and drop from the file manager.

Further I should be able to create a separate desktop and shelf for each task, so that I can see a different set of working documents when I switch tasks.

i.e. a work-centric, document-centric interface for Getting Things Done. When I'm working on Courses I see a shelf across the top of my screen with quick access to my course folders, references, and stuff in progress. It's like a real shelf above my desk where I put things I'll need to touch when I return to working on Courses. There's a separate shelf for Admin, and for Readings, and for Journaling, etc.

The current open-source desktops fail to even let me drag a document to the dock or panel. I looked for a way to do this simple drag-and-drop task in Gnome3, XFCE, enlightenment e24, and Plasma 5. Each is a complete FAIL for this simple task. But each one provides a multitude of ways to launch an application, and you can always add on the dock of the day and get yet more (and pretty) app launchers. I read Release Notes for each of the recent releases of these desktops and almost all prominently brag of their improved icons and better app menus and new launchers!!?!

How can one have a favorite amongst such a loser crowd of alternative application launching interfaces?

KDE Plasma did allow me to drag a document to the desktop and does provide a different desktop for each activity so it is VERY close to passing my test. There is still no concept of "shelf" where one can put work aside, putting documents on the desktop is awkward because (1) documents can't be just dragged onto the desktop (a dialog pops up asking you if you want to create a "link" or an "icon" -- do you know the difference??). And of course, documents on the desktop are less useful than having an actual shelf for work-in-progress because the desktop is covered by windows. I found the whole process of trying to keep activity-centric documents on activity-specific desktops to be workable but requires way to many mouse clicks and unnecessary transtions.

The environment that I've been using for years allows me to have a different desktop (wallpaper and icons) and different panel for each task on which I can put ANY kind of object including mountpoints, folders, documents, applications. I've got key-triggered window tiling AND window tabbing (drag one window title bar onto another window titlebar). The window manager can be asked to remember the state of each window (which monitor, dimensions, position, fullscreen, maximized, minimized, etc.) and when you open it next time will restore it the way you left it. The file manager uses a spatial view so that an object on the screen seems to be there, not be just a transient object in a browser view allowing one to search up and down the heirarchy of many thousands of directories that are on my workstation. Rox-filer provides the desktop "pinboard" and the panels and can have any number of them and switch between them freely. This file manager allows me without lifting my hands from the keyboard to navigate the folder heirarchy, select any object, open the object or execute any shell command on that object. This feels to me like a gui SHELL.

In other words, with the simplest of all window managers and file managers I've got a document-centric, work-centric interface with on-demand window tiling and tabbing and no limitations on what I can put on the desktop or the panels (up to four panels at a time).

So MY enironment with FLUXBOX and ROX-FILER is the desktop environment that I prefer.

Everything else sucks. :)
 

garry

Active Member

Reaction score: 104
Messages: 118

I like ... simple ... uses dmenu (which allows you to open programs).

Oh yes. Dmenu and rofi can do so much. I make heavy use of dmenu and rofi and a set of scripts I call "everything". In each DE that I use I set Super-semicolon to execute ~/everything/.run -- a shell script that uses dmenu to select one of the (visible) items in ~/everything

~/everything has apps, courses, enter, home, notebooks, places, tasks and a few scripts such as sleep and xportrait (put X in portrait orientation) and xnormal (put X in nomal orientation).

~/everything/.run checks object returned by dmenu to see if it is an appdir, a folder with a .run script, a simple folder, or a "file". It does the right thing for it. e.g. "enter" asks for the key into my password database and, prompting for the master password if necessary, puts the password on the clipboard. places lists bookmarked places in the file system and opens the chosen bookmark. notebooks uses rofi to show me the names of all of my zim notebooks and lets me open one.

dmenu and my everything/.run script are the only launchers I need. dmenu can run everything!
 
OP
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Beastie7

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 576
Messages: 688

For those who picked the minimalist option, what drives you to such an environment? Is it the keyboard-centric experience of managing windows or some other reason?

If a full DE incorporated a window manager with built in key bindings (like i3, etc), and gave you the ability to get rid of client side decorations (ie. title bars), and taskbars, would you use it? Kind of like a on/off switch between a ‘minimal’ experience and a full featured window manager.
 

vigole

Daemon

Reaction score: 1,420
Messages: 1,240

For those who picked the minimalist option, what drives you to such an environment? Is it the keyboard-centric experience of managing windows or some other reason?
For whole my life I was a Microsoft user. Starting with DOS 5.0 moving forward, and all along I found myself arranging windows in a tiling form in Windows OS, from 3.1 onward. I am/was technically a windows user. Nobody around me was using titling WM or FreeBSD, nor Linux. Then I found FreeBSD (after a few month testing OpenSUSE), comparing a few WMs, reading most of related threads in this Forums and finally I chose x11-wm/i3, stick with it and that's it. I can't give you any reason. It's just the way it is. If I have to provide some rationale, I will say it is the animal instinct.
 

scottro

Daemon

Reaction score: 866
Messages: 2,019

I remember an old debate about mutt and pine where someone stated that people will pull out all sorts of technical reasons to justify what is, in the end, an emotional decision. I prefer more minimal managers because it seems there is less to go wrong. For example, on Fedora forums, where the default is Gnome, I see all sorts of problems where they get an unhelpful error message like Something has gone wrong.
The other aspect, (for me), is that ability to do most of what I want to do by keyboard. But, I think that like vigole part of it is just that it's what I like, and I don't really have a reason.
 

jardows

Active Member

Reaction score: 68
Messages: 111

I have to select other, because I like a taskbar and a dock, like the default XFCE setup. I like the dock for quick launching of programs, and the taskbar to keep track of things. I still keep the launch button on the taskbar, but I'm finding myself more using the right-click menu more, saves me just a few moments of moving my cursor to the upper left part of my screen. When I was using NomadBSD on my laptop, I did like the way they had the environment configured, and plank was nice. I've since returned to "vanilla" FreeBSD and didn't want to go through the hassle of all the manual setup to get the same environment, so went back to my old stand-by XFCE. I think I like plank better than the bottom panel of XFCE, but since the panel works, I didn't want to mess around with installing an extra piece of software. This seems to work well for my workflow.
 

Sevendogsbsd

Daemon

Reaction score: 658
Messages: 1,103

I selected minimalist because my experience on FreeBSD with desktop environments has been less than stellar in terms of performance. My only comparison is against Linux. For example, Mate`, Xfce4 both "feel" slower to me. This is totally subjective though. I have never tried KDE on FreeBSD.

I find that a minimal window manager is my favorite on FreeBSD, Fluxbox to be exact. I bounce around between it, Windowmaker and CWM. File management is my only gripe as normally I use pcmanfm for its simplicity but prefer Dolphin for its sheer power, however Dolphin has a billion dependencies so prefer not to use it. On Linux I would normally use KDE for its sheer power and flexibility.
 

Mjölnir

Daemon

Reaction score: 1,509
Messages: 2,114

In KDE, I can easily set up a dock, taskbar (standard) & panel, and configure it to fit my needs. Additionally, I can configure different set-ups via activities. Very handy.

It's kind of funny that the same persons praising CLI & UNIX philosophy prefer crippled minimalistic GUIs, but do not realize that a modern GUI like Qt/KDE implements exactly that same philosophy on the GUI level: various small modules, each built to offer a small set of functionality, bundled & linked together in the GUI. So yes, there has been some progress in the richness of features that today's GUIs offer. I wrote more than once that IMHO KDE exaggerates the featuritis, but still it offers so many sensible features that no other GUI has, thus I consider it the best reasonable choice.
 

hruodr

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 251
Messages: 844

I do not know if people is aware that x11-wm/twm is much more sophisticated
than it is out of the box: it needs some configuration. Unfortunately it has not virtual desktops.
x11-wm/fvwm has them and with motif outlook is very nice, in opposite to the
ugly default configuration in FreeBSD. Also x11-wm/cwm seems to be simple
and powerful, but I never felt the necessity of something better or different from the first two.
I think file or application managers can be implemented separately from the window manager,
but I do not need them unless I have a directory with many Photos and want to have an
overview of all them as small images.
 

Mjölnir

Daemon

Reaction score: 1,509
Messages: 2,114

You mean GUIs which don’t distract you from whatever you plan to do?
No I mean a GUI that offers exactly what I plan to do, when I open the context menu, in many cases. Not always, but very often. What distracts me is cruising the FreeBSD forum & add my 2¢ too often. Please stop posting on interesting topics!
 

Mjölnir

Daemon

Reaction score: 1,509
Messages: 2,114

On would think that what you plan to do happens in application software, not in a program launcher...
KDE's program launcher is very sophisticated, and there is an alternative one. They have their own context menus. It's very intuitive. When did you last try KDE Plasma? Maybe you should install it (optionally in a BE+snapshot of your $HOME, so you can revert quickly) & try it out for a day or two.
 

Cthulhux

Well-Known Member

Reaction score: 175
Messages: 337

Last time I tried KDE, it ate all my RAM, so KDE was the only application software I could use.

Personally, I prefer to use text editors, web browsers and the like, but what do I know?
 

scottro

Daemon

Reaction score: 866
Messages: 2,019

You know what you like. :) As does mjollnir. I think it's really a matter of personal taste. I can think of proverbs in English, French, and Japanese to that effect. Person A's workflow may be better served by vi while person B may need gedit.
Anyway, I'm going back to my earlier quote, that we can pull up reasons to support what is often an emtional decision--one person likes minimalist, another doesn't consider KDE's features to be a distraction, but a way to improve their work flow.
Ok everyone, group hug. :) (Or not.)
 
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