View Full Version : Who needs system panels?

July 6th, 2012, 01:44 PM
Do you think desktop panels (system trays, taskbars, what you may call it) are useful? If so, what information do you want to see in front of you every minute of your working day? Clock? CPU Disk usage? Wifi signal power? List of launched applications? Counter of Skype messages? Nagios notifications? What other use cases for those things can you think of? Is panel any better than using hotkeys to display information only when you need it?

I have read Mark Shuttleworth's article "Notifications, indicators and alerts" (http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/253) and his idea of a system panel as a place to display notifications that should not be missed seems to be the only logical raison d'etre for that bar. However, I think there may be better solutions for the problem than wasting some precious percents of screen estate.

PS: Autohiding the panel is not a solution. First, it will still appear every now and then, distracting you. Second, it makes the panel even less useful.

July 6th, 2012, 01:53 PM

I like to minimize to tray an example that frustrated me recently was....

open cd burn program and prep ready for burning some mp3's

open mp3 folder, maximize for browsing pleasure , select a few mp3's and drag to burn program...

what, wait, how the hell..

I then have to juggle with window sizes so I can drag / drop from music folder to burn app

Yes Bring Back the old gnome! lol

July 6th, 2012, 02:12 PM
So what support do you need?

July 6th, 2012, 02:19 PM
Thread moved to Recurring Discussions.

July 6th, 2012, 02:20 PM
The old Gnome? The one with TWO panels? Shiver my timbers!

Frogs Hair
July 6th, 2012, 02:52 PM
Gnome 2 is no longer supported by Gnome (EOL) . Some distributions such as Scientific Linux and some Redhat based distros still use it . The Gnome 2 fork "Mate" is available with Mint and can be unofficially installed on Ubuntu. Mate is based on pure Gnome 2 so it won't behave exactly as the Ubuntu modified version of Gnome 2.

July 8th, 2012, 12:51 PM
I tried Unity and G3 but the lack of a system panel is one of the main reasons I went fluxbox. System panel is just faster and easier imo.

July 8th, 2012, 02:00 PM
As for stats, might want to check out conky. There are a lot of conky scripts out there to take a look at, or try creating your own.


July 8th, 2012, 02:43 PM
I don't really mind the panels, I hardly even use them. I find gnome-panel, really useful for me. It's simple, and not with huge application icons popping out of everywhere like in Unity.

If you're really sick of panels, go use Openbox, Fluxbox, or Blackbox.

Remember, Linux has endless customization. :D

July 8th, 2012, 06:02 PM
Who needs system panels?
I kind of do, I like taking track of the time, the weather and my hardware temps

July 9th, 2012, 07:13 AM
Not that I was really annoyed by panels, and I've been working in an environment without panels for years (Stumpwm). I saw a default Ubuntu installation last week and this question came to my mind. I thought that the panels take space to display information you don't need all the time.

When I want to know the time (about once an hour), I have a hotkey for that. I have another to see the task list (once or twice a week). But there must be something that makes people want to see the panels all the time? I must be missing some useful side of computing, I thought. Hence the question. What kind of information do you want to see on the panel? The default applets hardly ever make sense: your own name, current time, network status... What else, then?

Perhaps, the value of panels is not in what you see there, but in the actions you can do with it. But even so, you don't need the panel to be displayed all the time. There should be a hot key to show it and to hide again when you're done.

Copper Bezel
July 9th, 2012, 03:23 PM
Different strokes. Particularly keystrokes - I prefer an environment I can get around with the touchpad, and I don't like setting up a lot of fiddly keybindings. Gnome Shell, which I use, is probably the worst offender - a fat panel that holds a phone-like complement of a few selective indicators and the clock. I do like to be able to see my network status and battery level and the clock at all times, and the volume wheel is useful (but I mean, there are dedicated keys on my keyboard for that.) I used to be concerned about wasted screen space, but I don't really know why - a few pixels at the top aren't important, and as far as I'm concerned, Gnome's panel is attractive enough to justify itself. It also makes a nice stepper for the snap behavior, so that I can maximize a window by dragging, but still place non-maximized windows at the top of the desktop space. I get the simplicity of the Windows 8 approach, so I could appreciate the panel-less environment, but I think that what (little) the panel provides is worth exactly the ~20px it costs.

July 9th, 2012, 05:17 PM
I like to know the battery and the time but other than that i can do without the panel. i use keyboard shortcuts for volume anyway.

Version Dependency
July 9th, 2012, 05:42 PM
I use a panel for one thing....global menu! :D

And if I gonna have a top panel for a global menu, might as well put time and date, network manager, battery life, and email notifications in it.

July 9th, 2012, 05:48 PM
People who like to use their mouse to find shortcuts and applications need panels. I like being able to add launchers to panels. If you are not using a touchscreen, panels are very handy. I also like the way I can see minimised windows. Panels are simple, easy to use and easy to modify.