Sunday, May 2, 2010

Destop design (1995-2010)

I've mentioned recently how I like to minimise applications like music players to the notification area, and talked about alternative method of minimising to an icon- using a dock.
Now I learn that Ubuntu is set to kill its notification area.
I quite like the old system of minimising documents to the taskbar and putting running applications in the "notification area"- system which apparently originated with Windows 95 (although the "abuse" of the notification area to hold any old application came from third-parties, not MS).
How to avoid running applications in the notification area? I learnt recently that a lot of Ubuntu users have applications like music players running full screen on a different desktop and simply switch desktops. Seems like a good solution, but I've never really got into using more than one desktop.
I recently came across a way to see what's running on different desktops and switch between them, using Compiz and the "Windows" key. The keyboard short-cuts Super (aka the Windows key) + W brings up all desktops and shows what's running. It seems there are a lot of useful Compiz keyboard short-cuts I never knew about.
The way the short-cut worked reminded me of the Gnome 3 shell, which I've been trying out recently- clicking on Activities in the shell opens a window with the desktop or desktops, plus a panel menu.
As a way of organising open applications, I'm going to try having four desktops, and running one application full screen on each desktop. For somebody who has been using the taskbar and notification area for so long, it'll be a case of teaching an old dog new tricks, but with any luck the dog is not yet too old to learn.
The Gnome 3 shell is due for release in September 2010.

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