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View Full Version : [all variants] Efficient UI for a side Panel or equivalent



sgt.sargent
June 11th, 2011, 07:44 PM
I just starting upgrading Ubuntu/Kubuntu (I installed one over the other to get both UIs) from 9.10, headed for 11. Some things broke going from 9.10 to 10.04, so I'm pausing to fix them.

In the mean time, I'm looking and my Panel again. I always put bars like that on the side because screens these days are wide screens. Unfortunately, the UI doesn't handle a side Panel (172 pixel width) gracefully. The list of open programs refuses to use the available space, instead listed programs side by side when there's a good bit of space left on the bar. Other indicators grow to enormous proportions (I don't need a 2x2 inch wireless signal strength indication). I want everything to stay the size it is on a (small) top or bottom bar and to arrange efficiently. I hate to use an M$ reference, but I want it to behave basically like Windows 95 through 7 (with eye candy nonsense turned off) all do.

I don't care whether I'm using Gnome, Unity, or something else, so long as I don't lose having those components on the bar and get an efficient layout. I've attached examples of what it looks like now and what I'm hoping for (Gnome flavor), though again it doesn't need to be Gnome if something else will do this. Note the number of programs that can be open in a single list vs the number its willing to show before it starts showing them side by side. I typically run around 20-30 programs simultaneously if I'm not in Ubuntu, but this behavior makes it difficult under Ubuntu.

Any idea how I can get something at least close to what I'm looking for?

kerry_s
June 11th, 2011, 08:02 PM
well if your going to 11.04 you won't need to worry, you won't be able to move the panels.

VOT Productions
June 11th, 2011, 08:23 PM
If your going for 11.04, use GNOME Classic for that.

sgt.sargent
June 11th, 2011, 09:46 PM
So the Gnome that comes with 11.04 allows for the efficient layout I could never get in 9.10?
I don't care whether its Gnome or something else (KDE, Unity, etc.) so long as I can get the layout with the bar on the side to work well (as in the "What I want.png").

kerry_s
June 12th, 2011, 12:09 AM
So the Gnome that comes with 11.04 allows for the efficient layout I could never get in 9.10?
I don't care whether its Gnome or something else (KDE, Unity, etc.) so long as I can get the layout with the bar on the side to work well (as in the "What I want.png").

you should do a clean install of 11.04, to many changes making old settings cause chaos.

sgt.sargent
June 14th, 2011, 01:05 AM
you should do a clean install of 11.04, to many changes making old settings cause chaos.

OK, I suppose I could, but does that mean a GUI in 11.04 (not Unity apparently, but Gnome... or something?) will do what I'm looking for? It can give me the efficient layout I'm after, like in the screenshots attached above?

If that's the case, is it Gnome that can be set up like that or something else?

kerry_s
June 14th, 2011, 03:51 AM
OK, I suppose I could, but does that mean a GUI in 11.04 (not Unity apparently, but Gnome... or something?) will do what I'm looking for? It can give me the efficient layout I'm after, like in the screenshots attached above?

If that's the case, is it Gnome that can be set up like that or something else?

just give unity a go & see if it does what you want.
if you don't like it, then will throw some ideas around.

wildmanne39
June 14th, 2011, 05:52 AM
OK, I suppose I could, but does that mean a GUI in 11.04 (not Unity apparently, but Gnome... or something?) will do what I'm looking for? It can give me the efficient layout I'm after, like in the screenshots attached above?

If that's the case, is it Gnome that can be set up like that or something else?
Hi, yes it has the launcher on the left side of the screen, If you decide you do not like it you can log into ubuntu classic and set it up the way you want.

sgt.sargent
June 14th, 2011, 08:13 AM
I've really put my foot in it now. As far as I can see, no, Unity doesn't do what I wanted, isn't capable of what I wanted. From what you said earlier (2 days ago), it can't as it lacks the capability to even have the one bar I want, much less to have it function as I've been hoping for years now.

So now I have none of my programs or settings that took so long to set up under Ubuntu 9.10 and am left with a crippled up system that keeps defaulting to Unity and so far it looks like Gnome in 11.04 will be every bit as bad as in 9.10 (though at the moment I'm struggling to get it to stop trying to use that Unity excuse for a GUI).


Maybe it would help if I explained why I want my single bar on the right (why I want that screenshot from my first post).

The only bar goes on the side. Why the side instead of the top and/or bottom? My computers (as most people's these days) are wide screen and I mostly look at documentation and web sites, both of which need the height but not the width.

The small icon at the top, opens lists and sublists of programs. Why a single, small icon? I rarely open programs using any sort of list. I almost always use shortcut keys that I set, so while I need access to everything else, I don't need that access taking up much space.

Below that, a long list of the open programs, showing textual information about each. Why? I usually run around 20-30 programs at once, but they are almost entirely composed of browsers, plain text editors, rich text editors, spreadsheets, and lists of drive contents, so having icons indicating what's open wouldn't tell me much and having nothing telling me what open would be even worse. That and text means I can see useful information like "Gmail - Inbox (48)". This needs to take up most of the bar, meaning that it can't wrap after the first few open applications (as Gnome did to me before) if its to work well nor can large amounts of the bar be taken up by other things.

Near the bottom, a couple of icons about things that aren't exactly programs in and of themselves, but are still good to know about or to access quickly. Why? Basically, sound so it can be changed with a slider and networking so the signal stregth getting to be a problem or disconnection is easily evident and again quick to access.

At the very bottom, the date and time on a single line. Why a single line? It should have plenty of room at around 170 pixels, so why not date as well as time. I suppose if the couple of icons could be on the same line as the time, that would save a bit of space, but otherwise why would you not have both the date and time if it doesn't use any more screen real estate?


Unity has a top panel I don't want, a left panel/shortcut list thing I don't want, and lacks the one bar/panel I do want.

All I'm looking for is my one well laid out side bar (screenshot attached in the first post) with the things I want and nothing that I wouldn't use anyway wasting any screen real estate.

kerry_s
June 14th, 2011, 11:35 AM
so something like this?

sgt.sargent
June 14th, 2011, 06:35 PM
Well, that's closer in a couple of ways, but further in others.

The good part of what I see there is at the bottom. That has network, sound, and date and time without any of them being huge, though I'd still like date/time on one line and smaller icons than those for networking and sound. I don't know what happens if you hit several open programs, if its willing to use all the open space in the bar or not. I'm also not sure if the icons for open programs will shrink to match the size of the font once more is open or if they'll stay oversized as shown. I don't know what that green bars on a black background thing at the bottom of your screenshot is, so I can't say what I'd think of it.

Nothing (the old Gnome, new Gnome, nor that screenshot) puts the icons for sound and network side by side, none list the date and time on a single line, and none have as small icon for opening programs as I'd like (around a single line of text worth of height).

The old Gnome, had a single icon for programs instead of 1 plus another 5 for some reason, and showed the open programs instead of grouping them.

The new Gnome is almost the same as the old once I configured it, except for some reason I could only find an option to have a sound icon plus an envelope icon as a Panel option (the envelope seems to be there for configuring things I don't use: IM, e-mail client software, Ubuntu one, etc.

Of course I want the bar on the right, but it looks from your screenshot that its simply a matter of choosing Edge: Right in that dialog.

A good guideline might be the text in the Panel Preferences window. If the text in your screenshot's panel could be about that size instead of that larger font and the icons could be about the size of the height of that font, that's about the size I'm looking for.

Is that Unity? If that's Gnome, how did you get the smallish network and sound icons?

23dornot23d
June 14th, 2011, 06:56 PM
sudo apt-get install LXDE

Then once you choose to go into it .... do this in a terminal ..

compiz --replace

may be closer to what you actually need or require ......

(LXDE running with Gnome-Shell ..... or with UNITY ....)

You can put the panel on the right as in this screenshot ..... you can also add other applets to it or resize it or reposition it .... it is quite customizable ...

and it can look like this ... you may not need the Tron background .... but the dock and the panels are out of the way ...... SCREENSHOT (http://img821.imageshack.us/img821/8792/screenshot2ol.jpg)

kerry_s
June 14th, 2011, 08:03 PM
Is that Unity? If that's Gnome, how did you get the smallish network and sound icons?

i use lubuntu, the panel is lxpanel.
you can set the date/time how ever you want, i have it set to how i like it. pic 1

you can get all the icons on 1 line bt using the indicator applet & installing indicators like in gnome, mines done the old style, a volume applet & a system tray. i don't have indicators install, so don't use the single applet. pic 2, 3
edit: pick which indicators you want, the complete brings to much gnome. also the indicator-network uses connman, not network manager.


i'm an old timer, it's easy for me to get what i want, i pretty much have my way with the layout. the green bars on black is the cpu monitor. lol
i'm the 2 panel type, 1 hidden with launchers. pic 4

lubuntu is the light version of ubuntu, you pick & choose what you want. it's lxde on top of openbox, so not everything is easy, but if you want it your way, it might be possible.
http://lubuntu.net/

FormatSeize
June 14th, 2011, 08:43 PM
So the Gnome that comes with 11.04 allows for the efficient layout I could never get in 9.10?

You could have had Avant Window Manager in 9.10, which sounds a lot like what you are looking for.

kerry_s
June 14th, 2011, 10:13 PM
here's what it looks like with indicators.

(i had to reboot after it switched to connman, to get it to work, kind of worried since it says "alpha")

sgt.sargent
June 15th, 2011, 02:18 AM
Thank you, LXDE with configuration looks like it'll be just what I was after
... though apparently I've broken some things along the way. For example, if I tell it not to use a wallpaper LXDE crashes back to the login screen; if I do a file search, I can't open any of the results (nothing happens in LXDE while Gnome tries to open the file or directory and eventually stops without opening anything...). Of course, at least some of that might have something to do with compiz --replace hanging at setting update "fullscreen_visual_bell".

I'm thinking I'll trash what's here now (Ubuntu + a new Gnome - LibreOffice and several other applications and - Unity or at least all the components I could find an uninstall for + LXDE) and just clean reinstall with Lubuntu.

By the way, how did you install indicators on LXDE? That's the one bit that eluded me.

kerry_s
June 15th, 2011, 02:35 AM
By the way, how did you install indicators on LXDE? That's the one bit that eluded me.

thats pic's 2 & 3 above.
you add the indicator applet, then install the indicator you want. stay away from indicator-network(connman) totally boned my share folder. lol, i put network manager back & i'm good to go now.

remember, lubuntu is pretty bare bone, think of it as a canvas waiting for your art.

for some reason pcmanfm has to have a background, it also crashed on me when i tried to disable it.

you can't use compiz with openbox, so i hope you can live with out that.

sgt.sargent
June 15th, 2011, 04:08 AM
I don't actually know what compiz is, I was just following the steps from 23dornot, so I'm guess I can live without it. Wait, looked it up, no I don't need cute special effects, so its fine.

On the other hand, one of the things I did to get everything to look like I wanted it to was to use three Panels, all on the right, one below the other, so I could put things side by side along the top and bottom. Turns out that's not such a good idea. When I maximize windows, they leave a gap at the top and bottom, apparently assuming the top/right an bottom/right bars take up the entire top and bottom...

It was a thing of beauty, for a few minutes. Menu icon, next to power and search on the top, sound next to network next to other network next to battery life next to system tray at the bottom. Here's hoping that connman / indicator-network doesn't mess with anything I care about (I don't have shares on my notebook, I just access shares from it) and that the indicator really will list things side by side on a Panel with Edge set to Right. I'll try after I get home and reinstall with Lubuntu.

sgt.sargent
June 16th, 2011, 08:52 AM
Well, kerry, it was a nice thought, but unfortunately the indicators don't seem to work. The only one that seems to be working fine is, funny enough, indicator-network. Indicator-sound brings up an interface that doesn't function (the slider looks like sound is always at 0% and the "Sound Preferences..." option doesn't bring anything up). Others either don't do anything after they show up (indicator-messages puts an envelope icon that if you click changes its highlighting but does nothing else), while others (such as indicator-application) break the indicators applet entirely.

Like I said the other day, using three panels worked beautifully, right up 'till I tried to maximize a window.
Edit: Maybe this could be a base somehow? Like, if the maximize function could be overridden so it used a static size and position for maximized windows instead of paying any attention to what it "thinks" the panels mean it should use.

Anyone have any other ideas how I could get a few things to sit side-by-side at the top and/or bottom of a right edge Panel?


Edit: Also, any idea what needs to be installed to get the program that lets you set shortcut keys in most Ubuntu installs (like Ctrl-Alt-C for a calculator, etc.)? I could swear I've seen it in at least two previous versions, but it doesn't seem to be part of Lubuntu and my search-fu has failed me. I've tried installing a few programs but none of them seem to be (or contain) it.

kerry_s
June 16th, 2011, 09:12 AM
Well, kerry, it was a nice thought, but unfortunately the indicators don't seem to work. The only one that seems to be working fine is, funny enough, indicator-network. Indicator-sound brings up an interface that doesn't function (the slider looks like sound is always at 0% and the "Sound Preferences..." option doesn't bring anything up). Others either don't do anything after they show up (indicator-messages puts an envelope icon that if you click changes its highlighting but does nothing else), while others (such as indicator-application) break the indicators applet entirely.

Like I said the other day, using three panels worked beautifully, right up 'till I tried to maximize a window.

Anyone have any other ideas how I could get a few things to sit side-by-side at the top and/or bottom of a right edge Panel?

lol, i figured you would get stuck.
when using gnome stuff such as the indicator-sound you need to install the gnome program that go's with it, gnome-media for the indicator-sound preference.

like i said bare bones. takes a little knowledge, you just need time. ;)

sgt.sargent
June 16th, 2011, 08:56 PM
Unfortunately, that didn't work either. Is there some place that lists such "semi-dependencies"? After installing gnome-media didn't get the sound control in the indicator to work, I tried installing other packages (and of course their dependencies) for things that sounded promising and started removing things that I didn't want nor though I would need along the way (like removing Ubuntu One that came along with one of the packages I installed). I ended up breaking the indicator entirely, so now I'm installing the entire Gnome "with extra components" 637MB installed set of packages in hopes what I need will be in there...
It really would be good if I could look up information on these not-quite-dependencies so I can stop going around in circles like this.

Or, better yet, if I could just get the behavior of three bars on the right side of the screen without breaking maximize. Is it possible to set a static size and position for maximizing?

sgt.sargent
June 18th, 2011, 06:50 PM
So now I've got most of it working, I've got my shortcut keys set in ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rx.xml, got my panels arranged on the right side by unchecking "Reserve space, and not covered by maximized windows" for the bottom/right and top/right panels.

About the only thing I can't ever seem to get right is the Gnome indicator applet in the lxpanel. At this point, I can't even seem to get the option to add it.


The Question-
So I'm back to asking, how do I know what packages in need in place and what packages need to be removed for the Gnome indicator applet to run in an lxpanel?
The Gnome applet-complete is still running fine if I switch to Gnome ("Ubuntu Classic(No Effects)", so I apparently haven't completely hosed the whole thing.

sgt.sargent
June 19th, 2011, 06:22 AM
And now I've confused myself even more. I ran some commands I found suggested elsewhere for getting the indicator applet working under lxpanel.

I ran:
sudo apt-get install lxpanel-indicator-applet-plugin

Then because the results of running the install said there were things that should be cleaned up from office software I had removed I ran:
sudo apt-get autoremove

Then:
dpkg -s lxpanel-indicator-applet-plugin

And got back - "Package `indicator-panel-applet-plugin is not installed and no info is available". I got back the ability to add the indicator applet to an lxpanel, but nothing displayed once it was selected.

Not sure where to go with that, I went back to other things I was setting up and noticed that the menu bar had disappeared from gedit, though the same sorts of menus were still visible in other programs (including Firefox and OpenOffice Writer). Trying various keystrokes, I was able to use Alt-V to get in to gedit's View menu, but no settings were available to add it menu bar back in. I was however able to use the left and right arrow keys to switch to other menus... including menus which aren't part of gedit. There I found menus for the indicator applet items that weren't showing on-screen, logout and related options in one menu, the sound options I would see under Gnome's sound control displayed in another (though none of the buttons functioned), date/time settings in another, and the network controls in another.

So apparently Ia lost the menus in gedit somewhere along the line, but somehow connected them to the missing indicator applets' menus... and they all appeared by the bottom-right corner of the screen, near where the indicator applet icons should be but aren't...

I removed the applet from the lxpanel and my gedit menus reappeared and worked normally. So as a test I added it to the top lxpanel and not only did gedit's menus disappear, Alt-F, etc. brought up menus in the upper-right corner, next to where the indicator was supposed to be.

I checked in Gnome ("Ubuntu Classic(No Effects)") and confirmed that the menus for Indicator Applet Complete are exactly those same menus (even including the non-functioning sound controls).

Weird, interesting, and I still have no idea what to do to fix it.

Any thoughts?