A phony-baloney Gnome desktop

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I’m not a Gnome fan. I prefer it over KDE if I have to pick a heavyweight, but there’s nothing particularly appealing to me about Gnome.

All the same, when I was messing with the Gentoo live CD, I started to peer at the Gnome desktop with a funny look. So I rebuilt my Arch machine with Openbox and everything, and then started messing with panels.

PyPanel is too sparse. I didn’t want to compile PerlPanel (it’s in AUR now, I think … a day too late 🙄 ). So I picked up fbpanel and opened it’s default configuration.

It’s perfect! Easy to manage and configure (although it doesn’t give you much help if there’s a problem in your config file), and looks nice. It does some straightforward eye candy (like highlighted icons and transparency), and best of all, it doesn’t have a fat —

Anyway, a merger of the two — the Gentoo misadventure and the experiment with fbpanel — has yielded up this:

Close, don’t you think? That’s the Feisty desktop, with a few side points that probably ought to be explained.

First, PCManFM is the file manager (I had to pick it over Xfe; Xfe didn’t match the color scheme at all), with the Human icon set, Human cursor set and Ubuntulooks GTK engine.

You have to do a little file manipulation to get the engine in place; there’s a readme file in that package. And you have to set your cursor theme through the Xdefaults file; adding Xcursor.theme:Human worked perfectly for me.

I also tweaked the Humid and Openbox-Human-Like themes from boxwhore.org until I had a crossbreed of the two. I liked the gradients in Humid, but the colors went too close to black at the top. I liked the colors in Openbox-Human-Like, but I didn’t want the squared-off bevel effect. So I combined the colors until I got what I wanted.

My terminal window is urxvt (my favorite!), and to be honest, most of the panel buttons you see just trigger a terminal window. The CD creator link spawns Graveman, the volume control triggers AlsaMixer in a terminal window — stuff like that. I’m sure there are other applications I could substitute for network managers and whatnot; if you have any ideas, let me know.

There doesn’t seem to be a way with fbpanel to have a name for a menu, but no image. When I took out the image tag in the config file, I got a “missing image” icon next to the menu name. So that’s why Places and System both have icons next to them.

Another quirk is the bolded date-time block. It starts out for a half-second in normal book text, then switches to bold. I can’t seem to find a reason for that.

I should probably also mention that the Quit button just kills Openbox, rather than offering a shutdown menu.

The rest of the application rundown includes Abiword, ePDFView, Leafpad, Graveman, Galculator, Mirage, Audacious and XGalaga++, just so I’d have something to put in the Games submenu. 😉

What takes the longest with this is tracking down all the icons and matching them with the picture. I didn’t have a stock Gnome setup to follow, so I just had to find the one that looked right and see if it worked.

By the way, the right-click menu still brings up an Openbox dialog. 😀

Startup times are only about six seconds slower, which I attribute to HAL (which PCManFM wants) starting up, and the fact that it takes a little while for fbpanel to parse the upper panel configuration. The bottom one appears quickly, but the second instance has to struggle a little with the top one.

I think that’s about it. There was no real function in this exercise, other than to play with fbpanel and see how close I could get to Feisty.

On the other hand, I know what it’s like to switch desktop managers, and it can be frustrating when nothing’s in the right place. If you have to use Openbox, but you don’t mind taking the time to change the look, this might be an option.

P.S.: Just for my own future reference, or if you want to try it yourself …

And the graphic elements, compressed as a zip file and renamed to be uploadable.

P.S.: I’m really sorry folks, but the original configuration files were eaten by the pastebin a long time ago. I looked for backup copies in my e-mail and elsewhere, but they’re nowhere to be found. You’ll have to configure fbpanel and the other stuff manually, to get the same effects. I know, it’s a sad day for sports fans everywhere. … 😦


14 thoughts on “A phony-baloney Gnome desktop

  1. K.Mandla

    Hey, that’s pretty nice. Easier to configure, or at least once your fbpanels are made, it’s easier. 😉 I like the network tool, too.

    It’s too bad one or both of them doesn’t forgo the need for an icon with a menu. I’d like to omit those two icons on System and Places, but I get GTK errors if the icon isn’t defined.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. K.Mandla Post author

    Oops. I shall do that later today. I thought for sure that adding them to a pastebin would make them immortal. I guess I was wrong on that one too. 🙄

  3. Gejr

    I tried fbpanel and I liked it a lot, but I couldn’t live with the default bold text dclock. Do you know how to change that?

  4. K.Mandla Post author

    I never did find a way to change that. I didn’t look very hard though. I’m sure there’s a configuration for it somewhere, I just didn’t take the time to look.

    If you liked fbpanel you should take a spin past lxpanel; it’s much easier to manage and has many of the same functions as fbpanel.

  5. Gejr

    I actually have the same problem with lxpanel. It’s a great panel with the same ugly bold clock font. Besides, I can’t get any of them to show transparency. Shouldn’t that be possible without xcompmgr? I just need pseudo transparency on it.

  6. K.Mandla Post author

    They should both show transparency without xcompmgr. In lxpanel there’s a transparency setting in the Preferences menu. Set the shade and the transparency value, then restart X.

    I don’t remember offhand where the settings are for fbpanel, but I’m also sure it works on that too. It might require an X restart for both of them to go transparent. And if I remember right, the taskbar doesn’t show “proper” transparency for active buttons.

    If you want a full transparent setup you might have to work with pypanel, which I don’t really like, but it does the job well.

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  9. Alex

    I know this is an old post, but I was playing with fbpanel today and wondering about the clock myself. If you look in the profile in the block for the clock plugin, there’s a line ‘type = dclock’ change that to ‘type = tclock’ and now you’ll have a text clock with no ugly font.

  10. Mulenmar

    Well, this is an old post, but for posterity’s sake, I’d like to point out that Debian Lenny has a version of PCManFM that does not use HAL — pcmanfm-nohal, I believe the name is.

    It doesn’t have automounting, but who care <8~{P

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