How to easily emulate shell’s most famous feature in a different environment with Xfdashboard
Part 1 – Xf… Whaat?
The activity overview is, probably, the most revolutionary feature introduced with the birth of Gnome Shell. While not every user loves this innovation, it clearly provides a new way of using our workstations. By pressing the “Meta” key, we can now have the opportunity to navigate through windows, installed applications, and active workspaces.
Since Gnome is not the only one choice we can take nowadays, the project ‘xfdashboard’ tries to recreate the same user’s experience inside Xfce. Moreover, this is nothing but an application, so it’s not bound to a specific DE and can be easily used elsewhere.
On Fedora, we just have to pick it from the standard repos:
$ dnf install xfdashboard xfdashboard-themes
The second package consist in additional themes which can be applied to this tool.
Part 2 – Xfdashboard: how does it look, anyway?
Stop dreaming. The overall look isn’t as pretty as Gnome Shell’s one. It looks simpler, less modern and way rawer. Is this a problem? No, not really. In my opinion, it surprisngly matches with the window manager I’m using at the moment, which is ‘my dear old friend’ Fluxbox. I tend to use it because of its functionality. Well… If I’d want something like Gnome, I’ll indeed use Gnome, don’t you agree?
Part 3 – Xfdashboard: features
As I said some lines ago, xfdashboard is an application. It’s not an applet, a plasmoid, a screenlet, a widget, a whathehelldoyawant, that is strictly coupled with a specific environment. I bound it to “Meta+Z” on Fluxbox. On my laptop which keeps using the ‘powersave’ cores’ governor, the waiting time for the interface to appear, lasts about three seconds. After that, xfdashboard is completely ready. Without touching the mouse, we’re able to search for the desired software. It’s also trivial to switch the foucsed window nor the active workspace. Last but not least, there is a simple list of favorites, which can be easily managed through ‘drag and drop’.
Part 4 – Ehm, ok Giulio… But… Why?!?!1!?!one!? Ya know, I’ve been using Xfce since Gnome 2 was replaced by that kind of crap…
I might understand (no, not really) this point of view, but, as little as I know, xfdashboard is not an official part of the Xfce project itself. It’s just an add-on, a handy tool worth knowing of, which can customize the user’s experience. Nobody is actually forced to use it.