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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Additional Software (PETs, n' stuff) » Desktop
lxpanel -- a rough tutorial guide to its GUI
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Joined: 16 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr 2016, 16:48    Post subject:  lxpanel -- a rough tutorial guide to its GUI  

Hi All,

If you asked me yesterday, I'd have told you using Lxpanel's GUI was self-explanatory. But I've just had reason to remember its learning curve – primarily “unlearning” how things are done using jwm, xfce or (shutter) Windows.

As far as I know, if your Puppy included Lxpanel, or if you installed it, its Graphical User Interface functions in the following manner. [Lxpanelx may have slight differences].

When first started there will be one panel, either on the top or the bottom of your desktop. To change its location, right-click any empty space on the panel and from the pop-up menu left-click Panel Settings. See image at top left of attached screen-shot. [Sorry, I've had to resize the Screenshot to comply with Forum Limitations. It may be best to download it and open it in your Image Viewer].

If you want to add a second panel, left-click “Create New Panel”. The image, 2nd from the top-left on the attached Screen shot is the GUI displayed whether you left-click Panel Setting or Create New Panel. The Left-most tab, Geometry, provides the tools for configuring Panels.

I did not include an image of the Appearance Tab. One of the settings it enables is to change the “opacity” of the panel – that is the background color and its intensity. If you choose Solid Color and click the rectangle a GUI will open. Its slider enables you to choose how transparent the panel's background color will be.

The middle Tab, Panel Applets, enables you to choose which applets will appear on the panel. See Top-Right image. Some of the applets are gauges and others tools, such as Volume Control. The names of most are self-explantory. To figure out which applets you want, select one from the left panel and click “Add” on the right panel. Applets are initially placed on the Right or Bottom. The right panel also has Up and Down arrows to modify an applet's location.

One Applet takes some getting used to: the Application Launch Bar. It is necessary if you intend to have application launchers on a panel. To display a launcher, you must first Add an Application Launch Bar to the Panel. [Image – bottom left on Screen shot]. Then you select Application Launch Bar and Left-Click Edit. A GUI will open from which you can then select which Applications you want the Application Launch Bar to display. See Middle-bottom Image on Screen-shot. Its Right-most panel follows the rules of the Start Menu as to where specific applications are located. Left-Clicking a category will display the applications in that category. Left-click an application and then Left-click Add on the Middle Panel. The application will be added to the bottom (=right, if the panel is horizontal). Up and Down Arrows in the middle panel can be used to modify this placement.

Once you have added a Panel Launch Bar, you can add and remove applications to/from it by Right-clicking an empty space on that Panel and selecting Add/Remove Panel Items. On the GUI which opens, left-click the LaunchBar, then select Edit which will re-open the GUI shown at the Middle-bottom Image of the Screen-shot.

The Right-most Tab on the Panel Settings GUI is named Advanced. I use it primarily to determine whether or not a Panel will always be displayed. The image appearing on the bottom-right of the screen-shot is that of my substitute for JWM's Taskbar – placed along the entire bottom of my 1900 pixel desktop. The radio button for Automatic Hiding is not checked, so the panel is always displayed

My use of Lxpanel involves a second panel placed in the middle of the left-edge of my desktop. That one I do want to have hidden most of the time – so as not to interfere with the use of the Start-Menu; only popping up when I scroll my mouse cursor to within the 2 pixels of that edge and within the limited Geometry I've assigned it. This panel does not occupy the entire length of the edge. In the Geometry Panel, I've specified Left and Center, and use these arguments: Heigh=65 %; width 150 pixels; Icon 41 pixels. You'll have to play around with settings to find which work best with your monitor and your usage preferences.

Once you have a Panel, you can adjust its Geometry by Right-clicking anywhere on the Panel and selecting Panel Settings.

I've found that there are two quirks to using Lxpanel. As mentioned above, the GUI to add launchers to a Lauch Bar follows the rules used for displaying an application on the Start-Menu. The first results from a “limitation” of Openbox, the Window manager Lxpanel runs under. Openbox uses the desktop files of /usr/share/applications to create Menu entries, but is finicky about what arguments it recognizes in those files. If an application doesn't display on your Start-Menu, you won't be able a create a launcher for it.

You can open, examine, and edit desktop files in any Text-Editor. At least under Puppies, I've discovered a couple things which matter to Openbox. The first is that the Icon argument must specify an existing icon, sometimes specifying its exact location – such as /usr/share/pixmaps, rather than just a name-- and sometime limiting the file-format of the icon to png.

The second argument in desktop files which may cause problems is with respect to Categories. Sometimes the argument must end with a semi-colon “;” even if only one argument exists. Additionally, many applications –especially those installed from “alien” repos such as Ubuntu-- begin their Category definition with arguments not recognized by Puppies; for example Gtk, or KDE. In such cases, even if a valid argument –such as Graphics, or Multimedia-- appears later, a menu entry won't be generated. If a Menu-entry isn't generated, I find it best to open an application which does appear in the Start-Menu category I want the subject application to appear in; and edit the subject application's Category argument to conform to the recognized application's.

After getting an application to appear on the Start-menu it may be necessary to re-start X or even reboot before attempting to add the application to the Launchbar.

JWM creates a Save icon on the Desktop when your Puppy is run with a SaveFile and without an Automatic periodic Save. Xfce adds a Menu-entry. Openbox does not. While openbox will display a Save Icon on the desktop, if you want a Menu-entry or a launcher on a panel to initiate that procedure, you'll have to create a Desktop file at /usr/share/applications. You can easily write your own: The executable argument is /usr/sbin/save2flash. You'll need the icon argument to point to an existing icon or one you've installed. You can give the file any name you want, and associate it with any category.

Or install the attached pet.

Description  Add Save-Session to Openbox Start-Menu

Filename  save-session-0.2.pet 
Filesize  4.62 KB 
Downloaded  47 Time(s) 
 Description   LxPanel's GUIs
 Filesize   64.1 KB
 Viewed   136 Time(s)


Last edited by mikeslr on Tue 12 Apr 2016, 18:48; edited 1 time in total
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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr 2016, 20:00    Post subject:  

Openbox is just a window manager and has nothing to do with creating taskbar application launchers or menu entries in your taskbar's Start menu (it can provide its own menus for when you click on the desktop, but they sort of aren't as capable as the lxpanel menus). It also doesn't have anything to do withe desktop icons provided by your filer.
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root: n. the superuser or administrator account that has complete control over everything in the machine. Running as root is a taonga of Puppy Linux users.
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