[K12OSN] lightweight file manager?

Petre Scheie petre at maltzen.net
Mon Jan 17 21:16:42 UTC 2005

This is a somewhat long-winded assessment of idesk:

I installed idesk and icewm on my Xandros (debian) laptop this past weekend. 
idesk worked well with icewm, providing desktop icons for launching 
applications, and both loaded quickly and don't seem to consume much memory. 
idesk is similar to icewm in that everything is configured with some short text 
files, which I ended up doing by hand.  There's a graphical config tool called 
idesktool, but I couldn't make it work.  Curiosly, idesk is available in debian 
unstable, but I couldn't find an rpm for it, while, conversely, idesktool is 
available in rpm or source but not DEB.

The icons that idesk provides are just application launchers, similar to icewm's 
toolbar.  They don't provide folders or drag-n-drop features, etc. And you can't 
right-click on the desktop and create a new icon.  But, as part of my pursuit of 
a quick system on lesser hardware, I did create a Home icon that calls xfe*, a 
light and quick file manager, and it pops up instantly.  xfe doesn't show you 
thumbnails of images like Nautilus, but it doesn't require anywhere near the 
resources, either.  But it does give the user access to files, allows files to 
be moved around, supports selecting/copying/moving multiple files at once 
(unlike Rox, according to Robert A.), and allowing users to double-click on 
files and have the correct app load the file.

So, idesk won't meet Les's requirement of icons including folders. And it 
doesn't really offer anything that you can't do in IceWM itself--that is, the 
icons just launch apps as does IceWM's toolbar and menu.  But it works well for 
dressing up IceWM's spartan desktop without incurring the overhead that Nautilus 
does.  If one is building an LTSP server on a shoestring, I think it adds enough 
glitz to be worthwhile. It makes the desktop more akin to what users expect, for 
a "cheap" price resource-wise.  I think it's pretty cool!

I'll try to get it installed on my home K12LTSP 4.2 server (which is broken at 
the moment--don't ask) and then write some how-to's for the wiki, if anyone is 

*Somebody was asking about a lightweight file manager last week; I had 
recommended XWC, but xfe appears to be newer, is still being actively developed 
(I think dev on XWC has stopped--but how much can one add to a file manager?) 
and is available in rpm for Fedora releases.  They are similar in performance, 
i.e., fast, and appearance.


Eric Harrison wrote:
> On Fri, 2005-01-14 at 15:35 -0600, Petre Scheie wrote:
>>I don't think so; or at least I don't run it that way.  One of the 
>>gee-that's-cool-but-not-everyone-liked-it features of Nautilus was its 
>>ability/insistance on taking over the desktop.  I never cared for it mostly 
>>because it was so slow and made everything else drop to a crawl also.  It has 
>>since gotten much better, but it still requires a fair amount of horsepower. 
>>There's the idesk project for creating desktop icons in lightweight window 
>>managers. I haven't tried it yet, but hope to soon.  It might make for a good 
>>alternative to Nautilus-with-Icewm for K12LTSP.
> Yeah, lightweight "desktop icons" would be a great addition. I note that
> both Windows and Macs tend to have fewer and fewer icons on their
> respective desktops, but users still expect that feature.
> -Eric
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