Creating a buttonbar in PuppyLinux

Draft page for information


I had this idea while updating Puppy v2.10 Professional to run on earlier computers I had acquired either for nothing, or for next-to-nothing. A recycling programme, so to speak. The version after (2.11) was the latest that would run on a series of older, yet still useable, computers. Version 2.12 and later won't, unfortunately, and that includes some of the IBM Aptiva and early Netvista low-height "tower" models, HP Pavilions and a range of other computers built in Taiwan by Lenovo are such. Not all of them; depends entirely on the BIOS and other things internal.

 

I've been looking at removing some of the desktop icons, which many people have discovered are always covered over by the work we do, and replace them with button bars, similar to, or smaller than what's above. Creating floating button bars is a great way to eliminate desktop clutter.

I got the idea from this one, which was part of 2.10pro...

I experimented with one for the "other" office applications (i.e. not OpenOffice.org), including stand-alone word processor and spreadsheet, and a close look at 2.15 and EZ showed me that the word "Documents" was used there succesfully. So I created one like this for the "other" office applications...

But the 48 pixel icons were really large and they still looked awkward with text underneath that seemed unable to be resized, even with the icon size dropped to 32 px...

Removing the text altogether created a better look, as we can see here...

and here finally we have reduced the icons to 24 pixels square, which are starting to look more like it.

And small icons without a legend can more easily be done as a single bar, after all.

One has to wonder if human people can use the images alone productively; of course in Windows applications they have done so for years, so I suspect that would also work.

I went on to create a "Shut Down" bar and felt that large icons and text were important here...

and a "Control Panel" which seemed to work quite nicely; buttons give an indication if they are being pressed. I should mention that items that are not installed just plain don't work; if they are subsequently installed, the links work correctly.

These worked well, so I created several others...


and a "parent" one that can initiate all the "children" created... which can just as easily be picked from a taskbar icon, or a menu call, or even a desktop icon (although getting away from desktop clutter was the object of the exercise).

The concept - for simplicity - has incorporated many of the menu default applications (which the menu - of course - does not display because they are remarked out until installed as dotpups or pupgets); this means that while some buttons may well not work initially (because the applications have not been installed as extras yet), when installed, the associated buttons will work. Obviously this can't be guaranteed in every case, but the standard syntax employed in the scripts makes modification straight forward. Extra icons are provided for some other applications, and in a number of cases there is a choice of different icons... as you can see in a capture below I have created three for AbiWord.

The design has everything for each particular buttonbar in its own directory (icons and script), which can be zipped up and unzipped simply; the icons folder contains icons suitable for the particular function, with several extras and duplicates...
  

ALL of these button bars work in versions 2.02, 2.11, and also the "later" versions of 2.12, 2.14, 2.15. and 2.16 with no problems in this customisation (except that programs not actually installed don't actually run. Duh!)

They even work in v 1.09 for Windows98 which I have installed in several Windows computers, with very great success.

You can download the basic self-contained directories with 48x48 pixel icons and 24x24pixel icons plus scripts from here in a zipped format.

Unzip (extract) them to the filesystem root and they will end up correctly under /usr/local/buttonbars/. All of the button bars are grouped in the one directory for easy installation and removal.

If you use the basic scripts, you will end up with 24x24 icons without text; if you use the scripts ending in "-text" you will have 48pixel icons with a text legend below.

Be warned that if you make your own, and you need to remove text from under an icon, you will cause the script to fail if you leave any of the line's content behind... it seems that a blank instruction causes a hernia :)

 

Buttonbars are good for Removing Desktop Clutter...

 
That is the worst-case scenario... a 1024x768 pixel desktop (used with small nonitors), with considerable real estate taken up by icons. On the right is the slightly less intrusive 1280x1024 pixel desktop which for a small monitor is about the highest definition you could go for.

On the left, below, is the standard puppy desktop in a 1600pixel resolution, and on the right is the tidied-up version same resolution with the icons round the edge, with as an option the master iconbar in the format shown above rather than as a long strip which would be twice the length and a bit over half the height - worth considering ...
 

While nothing whatsoever to do with button bars, I thought I'd mention this customisation tip as well. I've discovered it isn't difficult to enable the Print/Screen button (like WhoDo did in 2.15ce) to initiate taking a screen capture - which is also used in several other operating systems, including Windows, but surprisingly in few Linuxes.

All it needs is a single line of code in the /root/.jwmrc file, near the bottom, in the key redefinition section...

<Key key="Print">exec:mtpaint -s</Key>

The keypress capture technique doesn't seem to work in Ver 1.09 for Windows, though. It locks the keyboard inoperable if you try it.

However, the capture below is from v1.0.9 for Windows98 running under Grub, with buttons enabled ...

Code.
You WANT code? Arrggghhhhh....

Well if you go to the forum at http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=22302 you can see the code for the "master" bar with text under the icons, 2 rows of 48pixel icons. If you go to the download directory where the tar.gz file is, you can explore the actual icons and scripts for yourself :D :)

Enjoy it.

 

last updated 2nd February 2009