iDesk completes the look

I just got done saying how I divert questions about Windows to Windows users, but that doesn’t stop me from kicking around that Windows knockoff I fret over now and again.

Did you like the part about opening Firefox to the Microsoft home page? I thought it a clever touch. Every now and again I pull that desktop out and poke things around a little bit. It’s not very exciting, but I suppose it has its merits. And since this is a rather substantial advance in its development, I should probably make note of the innards.

So just as a review, that’s Arch Linux running IceWM 1.2.37, with the WinClassic2 theme from The default setup that’s included with that file is acceptable, but I’ve listed some adjustments below.

The icon set is GnomeXP from, which includes most of the important stuff to make all this work. For a cursor theme, I stick with Classic Flat White from, which is cut to look like the plain unshadowed cursor from XP.

Those three are the most important parts. For a GTK theme, Redmond is probably the closest (thealphanerd is right 😉 ). There is the matter of the Tahoma font that you’ll have to “acquire” from somewhere, but if you combine those two, most of the interface is set. Volwheel is my favorite when it comes to a volume indicator for the system tray; not only is it reminiscent of the volume control in Windows, but you can use the icon in the WinClassic2 theme as well as others, depending on your preference.

That background color is #3A6EA5, which may or may not be the exact shade of a blank background. I prefer that to the default Bliss wallpaper, although you can download by following the Wikipedia links to this page, if you think it better.

iDesk is what completes the look though. I had left icons out for a long time, mostly because I wasn’t really interested in them. But now that they’re in place I have to admit, they really pull the desktop together. The idesk-extras package contains an idesktool utility, so you don’t have to hand-edit configuration files, if you’re not into that. Three out of those four came from the GnomeXP pack; the Firefox one comes from … Firefox, of course. 😐 I’m much happier now that Firefox will follow the GTK theme and font size, without manhandling it.

Xfe does a great job pretending to be Explorer, if you subtract a couple of the menus and turn the theme to the Windows lookalike. I had to tweak the interface color a tiny bit, or the shade was a little bit off. Otherwise, add the Tahoma themes in that too, and it looks remarkably like the Windows version. Sort of.

Some more ideas:

  • Leafpad is good as a counterpart of Notepad.
  • rxvt-unicode can be adjusted to look a lot like the Windows command prompt.
  • Audacious with the Winamp Classic skin from is more or less a dead ringer for the early versions of Winamp (that’s a personal touch though).
  • gpicview out of the LXDE stable is a good image viewer that is an intentional Windows image viewer equivalent.
  • As best I can tell, the GimpShop project stalled a long time ago, but you can still get the last version if you need something that looks like an older version of Photoshop.

That might be everything that is just “downloadable,” although I need to add a few configuration files. Copy and paste, if you dare.


urxvt -e 'alsamixer'


MenuActivateDelay=0 # [0-5000]
QuickSwitchMaxWidth=1 # 0/1
QuickSwitchSmallWindow=1 # 0/1
QuickSwitchToAllWorkspaces=1 # 0/1
QuickSwitchVertical=0 # 0/1
RebootCommand="sudo /sbin/reboot"
ShowAbout=0 # 0/1
ShowFocusModeMenu=0 # 0/1
ShowHelp=0 # 0/1
ShowLogoutSubMenu=1 # 0/1
ShowMoveSizeStatus=0 # 0/1
ShowProgramsMenu=0 # 0/1
ShowSettingsMenu=0 # 0/1
ShowWindowList=0 # 0/1
ShowWorkspaceStatus=0 # 0/1
ShutdownCommand="sudo /sbin/halt"
TaskbarButtonWidthDivisor=5 # [1-25]
TaskBarShowCPUStatus=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowMailboxStatus=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowNetStatus=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowWindowListMenu=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowWorkspaces=0 # 0/1
TimeFormat="%l:%M %p "
TrayDrawBevel=1 # 0/1
UseMouseWheel=1 # 0/1


prog	"Terminal emulator"	xterm	urxvt -title "Command Prompt"
prog "Web browser" /home/kmandla/.firefox/icons/mozicon128.png /home/kmandla/.scripts/
prog	"File manager"	explorer	xfe


# This is an example for IceWM's menu definition file.
# Place your variants in /etc/X11/icewm or in $HOME/.icewm
# since modifications to this file will be discarded when you
# (re)install icewm.
prog	"Terminal emulator"	xterm	urxvt -title "Command Prompt"
prog	"Mozilla Firefox" 	/usr/share/pixmaps/firefox-3.0.png	firefox
menu 	Applications 	folder 	{
	menu 	Accessories 	folder 	{
		prog 	Leafpad	notepad	leafpad
		prog	Xfe	explorer	xfe
		prog	Recorder	/usr/share/pixmaps/recorder.png recorder
	menu 	Games	folder {
		prog "VICE Emulator" app x64
		prog	"Warzone 2100" /usr/share/icons/warzone2100.png warzone2100 --fullscreen --resolution=1600x1200
	menu	Graphics	folder	{
		prog	gcolor2	/usr/share/pixmaps/gcolor2/icon.png	gcolor2
		prog	gPicView	/usr/share/pixmaps/gpicview.png	gpicview
		prog	GimpShop	/usr/share/gimp/2.0/images/wilber-icon.png	gimpshop
	menu	Multimedia	folder	{
		prog 	Audacious	xmms		audacious2
	menu Network folder {
		prog "Firefox" /home/kmandla/.firefox/icons/mozicon128.png /home/kmandla/.scripts/
		prog gFTP	/usr/share/gftp/gftp.xpm	gftp
	menu	Office	folder {
		prog ePDFView /usr/share/epdfview/pixmaps/icon_epdfview-48.png epdfview
	menu	System	folder	{
		prog	"GTK2.0 Change Theme"	app	gtk-chtheme
		prog	"rxvt-unicode"	xterm	urxvt
menu	Volume	folder {
	prog	Adjust	none	urxvt -e alsamixer
	prog	Mute	none	/home/kmandla/.scripts/
	prog	Reset	none	/home/kmandla/.scripts/ 

My adjustments to ~/.icewm/themes/WinClassic2/default.theme

#DesktopBackgroundCenter=1 # 0 / 1
#DesktopBackgroundScaled=1 # 0 / 1


table Config
  FontName: tahoma
  FontSize: 10
  FontColor: #ffffff
  Locked: false
  Transparency: 0
  Shadow: true
  ShadowColor: #000000
  ShadowX: 1
  ShadowY: 2
  Bold: false
  ClickDelay: 200
  IconSnap: true
  SnapWidth: 32
  SnapHeight: 96
  SnapOrigin: BottomRight
  SnapShadow: true
  SnapShadowTrans: 200
  CaptionOnHover: false
table Actions
  Lock: control right doubleClk
  Reload: middle doubleClk
  Drag: left hold
  EndDrag: left singleClk
  Execute[0]: left doubleClk
  Execute[1]: right doubleClk


Xft.dpi: 		96
Xft.antialias: 		true
Xft.hinting: 		true
Xft.hintstyle: 		hintfull
Xft.rgba: 		rgb

Xcursor.theme:		Classic-White
urxvt.font:		xft:mono:antialias=true:size=10
urxvt.reverseVideo:	true
urxvt.scrollBar:	false
urxvt.transparent:	false
urxvt.shading:		33
#urxvt.termName:		"Command Prompt"

I think that’s it. Change the icon set in .gtkrc.mine, and I suppose if you’re really daring, you could change the bash prompt to pretend to be the Windows command prompt. I can’t be bothered with that though. That’s way too much effort. :mrgreen:

20 thoughts on “iDesk completes the look

  1. Mikko

    That is pretty perverted way of using Linux. We’ll probably next find out that some Linux users have written BASH scripts that would give the impression one is using some obsolete version of MS-DOS.

    1. ArmorNick

      I’ve read something like that in a brainfuck thread on the Arch forums. It was a simple script that made bash print ‘C:’ in front of every path.

      1. quantumlemur


        I think I got that off of the xkcd blog a while back, and pull it out every so often when I need a laugh

  2. damaged justice

    I used to do the opposite — back in my DOS days, before I’d ever even laid hands on Unix, I made my prompt a $ 🙂

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  15. Foz

    Ok, I dared…

    I hate to sound like a newbie, but the additional downloads – where do you place them for IceWM to pick them up?

    I guessed the WinClassic2 in the ~/.icewm/themes/ directory from the adjustments that you made, but where do the other ones go (including the ttf please!)?

    When I’ve tried to duplicate your success, I’ve ended up with the window borders being super chunky and the minimise, maximise and close buttons are corrupted, no windows-esque look to the start bar, and I have no idea about idesk with the My Computer icons – it’s just a blank blue…

    Oh, and the “Command Prompt” window… the TERM is set to Command Prompt in the .Xdefaults? Are you sure? I get complaints about “Command” not being a valid term when trying to run anything that requires the term info.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Well, let’s see. The themes go in respective directories inside .icons, so the GnomeXP folder will be at ~/.icons/GnomeXP. Same for the cursor theme.

      Redmond is usually a GTK style that comes with the default GTK engines; if it’s not there check your distro for a gtk-engines package, or something similar to that.

      rxvt-unicode has a title flag that lets you change the title of the window without changing the TERM variable, because yes, changing TERM to “Command Prompt” makes it unhappy. 😉 Try this instead:

      urxvt -icon /path/to/.icons/MS-DOS_icon.png -title MS-DOS

      You can get an MS-DOS icon off Wikipedia. Change PS1 with


      And it might be a little more usable, but still look like the old Windows prompt. If it works for you, thank Peter, since he e-mailed me with it a long time ago and I am lazy and forgot to add it to this page. 😳

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