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ROX Desktop Update 181

Posted by timothy
from the small-simple-swift dept.
tal197 writes: "More than two years since the ROX desktop (a desktop based around the filesystem) was last mentioned on slashdot, the second stable branch of the central ROX-Filer component has just been released. It's still pretty light and fast, despite all the changes, and integrates well with other desktops too."
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ROX Desktop Update

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  • More Information (Score:3, Informative)

    by BrianGa (536442) on Monday February 18, 2002 @02:54PM (#3027721)
    For more information on ROX Desktop, check out the Freshmeat [freshmeat.net] details [freshmeat.net].
  • Rox -rocks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday February 18, 2002 @02:58PM (#3027742) Homepage
    I;ve been using windowmaker with Rox-filer in the desktop mode for quite a while now on machines Like a P-MMX 200 with only 64 meg of ram. It works great, abiword runs under it nice. and the whole thing feels faster than Xp on a 2 processor 2ghz each machine.

    I placed one of these in the general sales work area and I have recieved tons of comments on how fast it is. One person asked if it was prototype hardware that you couldnt buy yet because it was so fast.

    I reccomend everyone give Rox a try. it mates with several light windowmanagers and makes an awesome desktop that is easy to lock down and configure.
    • by dstone (191334)
      One person asked if it was prototype hardware that you couldnt buy yet because it was so fast.

      Tell that person I have some waterfront real estate to sell them. Chance of a lifetime.
      • Re:Rox -rocks (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        But it's a nice example of how people are used to seeing new hardware run slow. The brand spanking new machines I rolled out here last month are slow compared to this Rox machine. Why? W2K is bloated, Office is bloated, ie is bloated. Outlook is just a joke, a really really cruel joke.

        I even have wine on there running one of the special research apps (nielsen data) and they like it's speed. (granted it crashes more, but it's because of the same bug that crashes the app on windows.)

        If users demanded that their new P7 with 2 terebytes of ram ran unbelieveably fast instead of putting up with the added bloat that slows down that super fast machine to regluar speeds again, things would be different.

        KDE is un-useable on this machine... That's what I tried to install on it first. ROX+windowmaker makes is super fast, and look nothing like Microsloth.
    • Re:Rox -rocks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by prmths (325452) <prmths AT f00 DOT org> on Monday February 18, 2002 @03:11PM (#3027822) Homepage
      I totally agree... I've been using rox for quit a bit of time.. and it screams on my athlon 1.5 and P3 1.13
      windows, nautilus, konqueror, -- all have the same problem -- laggy and non-responsive when you have tons of files in a directory.. rox just blazes through it.. my only complaint -- when a file has an executable flag - it automatically runs it -- but i'm sure there's a option somewhere to turn that off... I just havn't looked..

      sure, windows XP, nautilus, etc might be an eyeful.. but... performance is what I prefer.
      • chmod * a-x

      • my only complaint -- when a file has an executable flag - it automatically runs it

        Isn't that the, ehm, point of the executable flag?

      • Re:Rox -rocks (Score:3, Informative)

        by tal197 (144614)
        when a file has an executable flag - it automatically runs it -- but i'm sure there's a option somewhere to turn that off... I just havn't looked..

        The Options box would be a good place to start ;-) Try Options->Types->Ignore eXecutable bit for known extensions.

        Also, for text files, click with Shift held down to load it into a text editor instead of running it (this works with other files too). Shift + right button click to get a menu of possible applications to send it to.

        • Not that this post is on topic to yours, Thomas, I just want to say thank you for making ROX what it is. I'm not able to fully enjoy the ROX Desktop (due to space constraints, no Python or PyGTK), but the ideas you have going on for you are great! Please keep up with your work, and happy hacking. ROX has been the only file manager I've ever had installed on this box, and I will make sure that will always be true. :)

          ROX is one of the main elements of my Linux distribution, since the appdirs mechanism is the most flawless I've ever seen (sources at http://phatboydesigns.net/devel/0sys/0sys.tar.bz2 [phatboydesigns.net], 360K or so download). I'm particularly interested in the potential it has to being a killer file manager on small devices.

          (Shameless plug) For those of you who are too lazy to get PyGTK or can't have it, check out my Linux distribution's souces--There are some rather interesting goodies in desk/ written in Bourne shell, using some of my own Gtk+ apps as a scriptable replacement to the PyGTK-based ROX library. Warning: My distribution is a little sparse on documentation, but there are manual pages in there for some things.

    • I agree 100% - I found it a few weeks ago on freshmeat while looking for a fast and lightweight file manager.

      It definately is fast.
    • Re:Rox -rocks (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ed Avis (5917)
      One person asked if it was prototype hardware that you couldnt buy yet because it was so fast.

      LOL. But in fact ROX will never be as fast as what inspired it - the RISC OS desktop (mostly) hand-written in ARM assember. Acorn's 8MHz ARM-based desktop was in fact faster than almost anything short of a Sun workstation back in 1988 when RISC OS came out, but most of the _feeling_ of speed came from the OS being implemented in assember, and on ROM so it loaded instantly. Legend has it the windowing code was written by a games programmer - perhaps the best person to pick.

      Is anyone keeping an official list of 'desktop software that looks good and isn't horribly bloated like almost everything else seems to be these days, not like back when I were a lad' (tm)? I nominate Dillo [sourceforge.net] and Icewm [icewm.org]; I would use ROX-filer if I needed a file manager (I've become accustomed to using the shell now). I can't bring myself to give up XEmacs though :-(.

      • An interesting project would be repackaging a lot of common applications as ROX AppDirs.

        That, combined with a nice replacement for /etc/* (consistency would be nice), would make for a very nice, updated, modern, easier to use and configure, Unix system. Um... like MacOS... but without Aqua.
      • Is anyone keeping an official list of 'desktop software that looks good and isn't horribly bloated like almost everything else seems to be these days, not like back when I were a lad' (tm)? I nominate Dillo and Icewm

        I agree! But instead rox i recommend emelfm [sf.net] which is fast and powerfull "nc-like" file manager.
        Then gqview for image browsing, gnumeric as spreadsheet and LyX as word processor.
        Er... you wrote "looks good" - so maybe LyX isn't a good example here ;-)
  • by jeske (7383) on Monday February 18, 2002 @02:58PM (#3027746) Homepage
    Wow, I just took a look and the ROX Filer is truly revolutionary. This is the first simple example of the powerful Nextstep and MacOS X concept of "app wrappers" brought to Linux.

    App-wrappers are a system which solves many of the application installation problems associated with the Windows Registry and systems like RPM. By locating all of an applications files under a single relocatable directory, installing an application is as simple as dropping the "app wrapper directory" on your filesystem.

    Lets all hope this concept finally takes off on Linux, so it can pave the way for simple 3rd party application distribution.

    • by tjwhaynes (114792) on Monday February 18, 2002 @03:28PM (#3027894)

      Wow, I just took a look and the ROX Filer is truly revolutionary. This is the first simple example of the powerful Nextstep and MacOS X concept of "app wrappers" brought to Linux.

      Funny you should call them MacOS X style app wrappers because they are based on a much older system from Acorn RiscOS :-) Hence ROX - Risc Os on X.

      Other really nice things are the Drag-and-drop save - why the hell hasn't this caught on elsewhere? After all, we drag things into windows to indicate the movement of data from one window to another. We drag files into apps to load them. Why hasn't dragging a 'file' out of an app to a filer window caught on as the most obvious way to save a file?

      As an avid user of Acorn RiscOS back in its hey day (when men were Real Men, women were Real Women and real furry creatures from Alpha Centuri were Real Furry Creatures from Alpha Centuri), ROX allows me to get passed all the normal windowing cruft and really allow me to use the desktop.

      As someone else has already said, ROX rocks.

      Cheers,

      Toby Haynes

      • Wow, I just took a look and the ROX Filer is truly revolutionary. This is the first simple example of the powerful Nextstep and MacOS X concept of "app wrappers" brought to Linux.

        Funny you should call them MacOS X style app wrappers because they are based on a much older system from Acorn RiscOS :-) Hence ROX - Risc Os on X.

        And of course, the MacOS X version should properly be known as "NeXTSTEP/OpenSTEP-style bundles."
      • Not quite the same thing, but classic Mac OS has text and picture clippings. If you just select some text in any app and drag it to the desktop it makes a text file with the first 20 or so characters of text. Works for pictures and movies too. Very nice feature. Missing in OS X :(
        • This isn't exactly revolutionary, even our friend Microsoft has had this feature since at least Windows 98, and probably 95. You can select text in Wordpad, MS Word, etc. and drag it to the desktop to make a "scrap" file. I've never actually found it useful, but someone must have...
        • You just have to Apple-Drag now. Works with arbitrary amount of text and with images, hypterlinks, html, rtf and most anything else you can think of. Very useful indeed.

          Have fun,

          Justin Dubs
      • Funny you should call them MacOS X style app wrappers because they are based on a much older system from Acorn RiscOS :-) Hence ROX - Risc Os on X.

        Does Acorn predate classic MacOS? Because the Mac has worked this way for as long as I can remember. Long before Mac OS X.

        • Classic Mac OS has never had that feature. (Adding a special extension to turn a directory into a single icon/bundle.)

          It's had resource forks, but those are an entirely different implementation of a similar concept.
          • I didn't completely understand the feature before. Classic Mac OS had the feature that applications were relocatable, and that's what I meant. The Microsoft Office 98 install consists of just copying the directory from CD to your hard drive.

            Resource forks are another thing.

            Note that Linux supports a feature that is non-standard to UNIX that makes it possible to make relocatable application directories like this: a process can determine the full path to the file that contains the executable image it is running. In general, this isn't possible under all UNIXes, and thus not completely portable. I'm very curious as to how these bundles work on non-Linux systems.

      • Other really nice things are the Drag-and-drop save - why the hell hasn't this caught on elsewhere?
        As a general rule, it's highly inconvenient; you have to already have opened the folder where you want to save the file, and then you have to drag it around the screen until it's in a position that make it easy to drag. Depending on the windowing paradigm, this can be a pain. (In Mac OS 9.2, it borders on the impossible, since all of an application's windows are grouped together.) However, Mac OS (and NEXTSTEP before it) do provide this very functionality in the form of proxies -- those little icons in the title bar. Click and hold and you suddenly are holding the icon in your hand. Drop it on the desktop or wherever and it gets saved. One area where I do use this a lot is with web browsing and tabbed windows: I keep a tab at the bottom of the screen called "Bookmarks," and then drag the URL proxies from IE and iCab down there when I want to bookmark something. The upshot is that I can get at those links at any point, without launching a browser, and I can just drop the link onto whichever browser I want to use instead of being locked into one.

        There are two caveats: first, Carbon/Classic apps do not all implement this functionality, as it was only introduced in Mac OS 8.5; and secondly, those Carbon and Classic apps that do sometimes don't have an active proxy until you've saved once, for whatever reason. However, once the proxy is active, it works just like RISC OS did, flaws and all.
      • One of the icons on the bottom of the screenshot looks supiciously like !Edit, as well...

        All they need now is a 'Filecore in use' error every now and then.
    • The problem with this system is that often space is wasted. You can have hundreds of copies of the same library in all the installation directories.

      True, DLL Hell isn't much better, but there has to be a clever median between the two.

      • >The problem with this system is that often space is wasted.
        >You can have hundreds of copies of the same library in all the installation directories.

        This sounds like a job for Perl, MD5Sum, and ln.

        - MugginsM
      • Symbolic link or environment variable, someone ?
        Actually, the ones who know the original thing won't even notice your reserve.
      • Actually, if you overhauled the linking tools you could have libraries operate under the same principles, and AppDirs could depend upon other AppDirs just as packages depend on other packages. Check out ROX-Lib as an example of how a library can be done in AppDir style and be usable. Granted that it is Python-exclusive, but it is highly functional in what it does and can serve as a proof of concept for non-python ideas.

        There is your median. Of course, you have to have some sort of central store of dependency information if you want to warn users they are going to screw over apps by removing those AppDirs, but the amount of overhead involved with managing well-behaved AppDirs would be *much* less compared to the common methodolgy of scattering files all over the place and hoping the package manager can sort it all out in the end...

    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Monday February 18, 2002 @04:31PM (#3028206) Homepage
      The app-directory idea is neat, but it has its problems. Some things do require a central registry of applications - like associating particular file types with particular apps. So what do you do - scan the whole hard disk at boot looking for app directories and registering them?

      On RISC OS each app-directory had a file inside called !Boot which was run whenever the filer _saw_ the app. Normally this was (effectively) a shell script which set some system-global environment variables for associations with particular filetypes. Needless to say this action of silently running !Boot files was a great way to spread viruses. But surprisingly opening a directory full of apps was still pretty snappy.

      This system extended to libraries - a library would usually be installed as an app directory and it would need to be 'seen' by the filer before anything using that library could find it. Later on even the temporary directory (called !Scrap) did this. That is cute - you can move the temporary directory from one place to another just by clicking and dragging - but it's a nuisance that these things have to be 'seen' on every startup. IIRC there was later some method to save a session file which would visit every application seen so far, and run this session file again next time.

      Since ROX-filer is just a file manager and doesn't have to set system-wide things like file assocations, it doesn't suffer from these problems AFAIK. But is there any real _need_ for app-directories?

      It seems to me that they were most useful when using a handful of floppies and maybe a small hard disk; when applications were small enough to fit on a single floppy and so just copying from one disk to another was enough to 'install' an app. But how do you deal with depedencies on a particular library version, for example? Using a package manager which can check these things looks like a good idea.

      Maybe a fusion of app-directories and RPM/dpkg packages would be useful. How about a package which you can double-click on to run the application immediately, but also choose to install 'centrally' (perhaps by dragging it to some strange-looking icon at the bottom of the screen) to make it install as a package, with binaries in $PATH and all that stuff.

      I dunno - I liked app directories on RISC OS, but I also like Unix-style package management with install and uninstall scripts and dependency checking. And I recognize that software packaging on Unix/Linux is more complex than it was on RISC OS or even on NextStep.

      I wonder what OS X does in this area?
      • Since ROX-filer is just a file manager and doesn't have to set system-wide things like file assocations, it doesn't suffer from these problems AFAIK.

        Actually, ROX-Filer does deal with that (although a patch recently appeared on the developer list to let it use the GNOME settings instead).

        As an example, let's say you want HTML documents to load into Galeon:

        1. Open the menu over an HTML file and choose Set Run Action... from the menu.
        2. A box appears asking you to supply an application.
        3. Drag Galeon (from a filer window, panel, or whatever you normally use to launch it) into the box.
        4. The association is now recorded (as a symlink ~/Choices/MIME-types/text_html to Galeon).

        You can also supply a command in the dialog box instead, eg galeon "$@".

  • Heres another way to get your ROX off with Linux...
  • ...that scene in Jurassic where the girl is like, "this is unix, I know this..." when playing with that whizzy cool desktop. Heh they fooled us all cause we all know command line is where it is. Anyways, isn't this akin to making Windows File Manager your shell? Personally, I think it's pointless. It's like going back in time to Sun's OpenWindows with no toolbar and just a file manager to deal with on load. Ick. Stick to toolbars, not FS.
  • s/filesystem/file manager/

    Then it makes more sense.
  • ROX on PDAs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DocSnyder (10755) on Monday February 18, 2002 @03:17PM (#3027856)
    I tried it via X11 redirection on my iPAQ (running Familiar GNU/Linux). It wouldn't take much hassle to make ROX the ultimative PDA environment: ROX is lean as in resources as well as in screen space, it's very functional and flexible, and it can be used with a stylus or with a one-key mouse.
    • ultimative

      That sounds wondermariffical!

      ~the Maple Syrup

    • This is one area where the ROX Filer really scores, and why I don't like Nautilus, etc. It means you can leave several Filer windows littered around your desktop without getting in the way too much. This makes drag and drop saving an instant affair instead of that awful file chooser you have to negotiate EVERY single time you want to save a file. The other great thing is that it's so productive when you know how to use it. Eg generally right button does reverse of left button so you can scroll up and down using one scroll button without moving the mouse.

      Phillip.
      • ...generally right button does reverse of left button so you can scroll up and down using one scroll button without moving the mouse.

        ROX doesn't implement reverse scrolling itself, as it uses Gtk's scrollbars. However, I have made a patch for Gtk. See the bug report on bugzilla [gnome.org] for the discussion. I don't think the developers realise how useful this is, though, so don't expect to see it in 2.0 :-(

  • Is there a templates dir?

    I'll find out in 10mins, apt-getting as I type.
    • Yes. ~/Choices/Templates. And it does even better than OS/2 did. That directory automatically comes up in the "new" flyout when RMB clicking a filer window! Good stuff!

      The thing that is missing, and I'm sure will be fixed in later releases, is that if a file, say on your pinboard, moves, the pinboard doesn't know about it (other than it is now missing). Then again this trivial thing with WPS, PM, and SOM isn't quite as easily accomplished in the environment ROX runs in.

  • Macintosh philosophy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markj02 (544487) on Monday February 18, 2002 @03:35PM (#3027920)
    The ROX desktop seems much closer to the Macintosh philosophy than other desktops. On the Mac, too, much of the interaction with the system is through a single paradigm built around the file system. This, to me, is a far more promising direction for a usable Linux desktop than complex megaprojects like KDE or Gnome.
    • Its even closer to the RISC OS desktop - the icons are very similar, the drag file to a Filer window to save action. The names are even the same - Filer, Pinboard etc. ;)



      The RISC OS Ltd. webpage [riscos.com] - they are the people who develop the RISC OS since Acorn Computers disappeared. There are some pictures of RISC OS 3 and 4 somewhere on the web (search for Graphical User Interface gallery in google, and lok in the mirror of the site that somes out top (if it hasn't returned)).

  • by mbrubeck (73587) on Monday February 18, 2002 @03:38PM (#3027929) Homepage
    I grew up with Macintosh System 6. That was a long time ago; first I jumped ship to BeOS back in the PR1 days and became a bash and vi junkie; later moving to Debian and becoming a free software hacker. For the most part I abandoned my MacOS roots.

    I never managed to shake a nagging feeling of loss: I missed the Finder. Oh, I tried various graphical file managers -- Midnight Commander, assorted OS/2 and NeXT clones, and more recently Nautilus. None of them worked for me; I tried to use them but always found myself switching back to the shell to get anything done. Most recently, I tried MacOS X and had the same problem! My beloved Finder -- constant from System 6 all the way to MacOS 9 -- had been replaced by this strange marriage of Windows Explorer and the NeXT Workspace Manager.

    What did I want that all these tools failed to deliver? A physical feeling of the filesystem. The idea that this directory is here... and this one is over there... and I can reach through the screen with my mouse, scoop up a bunch of files, and drop them in a new location. Also a sense of immediacy. The file manager must be lightweight and optimized enough that opening a new directory is, perceptually, a zero-cost operation. The interface must be sparse enough that you feel you are working in the filesystem, not through a bunch of widgets and menus. Sure, browsers like Nautilus or the OS X Finder support classic Finder-style browsing, but they don't stay out of your way enough for you to ignore the browser and focus on the files.

    The introduction [sourceforge.net] on the ROX pages sums up some of how I feel:

    However, recent desktop efforts (such as KDE and GNOME) seem to be following the Windows approach of trying to hide the filesystem and get users to do things via a Start-menu or similar. Modern desktop users, on Windows or Unix, often have no idea where their programs are installed, or even where their data files are saved. This leads to a feeling of not being in control, and a poor understanding of how the system works.

    One other system managed to give me the same intuitive feel for the filesystem, and that was the Be Tracker, a blatant but well-crafted Finder clone. Despite serious flaws (no hierarchal list views!), it was so nice to use that it was my primary interface into my computer when I used BeOS. The ROX Filer looks like a promising start. I will download it and hope, and contribute where I can.

    • Exactly... whoever thought that making the web-browser into the file manager needs to be beaten with large numbers of sticks. and I am quite saddened that Linux professionals that program KDE and Gnome also decided that bloat is better.

      If I want a web browser I'll open a web browser. I wanted to use a file manager. and this is where ROX fits in. If you kill nautlius (actually delete that nightmare from your drive) and place ROX in it's place as both the file manager AND desktop you increase Gnome's useability by over 50% in just the speed gains alone.

      I firmly believe that both KDE and Gnome need to stop all development, take away anything faster than a P-II-450 from all the developers and work on making both environments lightning fast on that low end hardware. THEN you are allowed to add toys, but no damned integration...

      remember this is linux... a UNIX style OS. and that premise that you havea lot of small fast apps that do one thing very well and very fast.

      having a webbrowser in my desktop and file manager is not the brightest Idea anyone at either camp had.
      • Although I 90% agree I do live the fact that I can browse through my filesystem and if I'ev got use index.html turned on it shows me the rendered HTML.

        I can see why the file browser & the web browser got married, but sheesh, does it have to be slowwwwwww.

    • What you've identified as a "physical feeling for files" is caused by precisely one overriding principle throughout the old MacOS's -- careful attention to spatial memory. All pre-X MacOS's left everything exactly where you put it, so next time you open a browser window, it would open to the same place and everything would be where you left it. TOG talks about this in one of his famous essays about Fits' Law, and lambasts OS X for basically doing away with it in favor of cutesy things that bounce all over the screen. (sorry, no URL handy, hopefully someone else can supply it..)
  • Beats Gnome 4.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by radulovich (47127) on Monday February 18, 2002 @03:54PM (#3027996) Homepage
    I think Miguel, Redhat, Sun, et. al. should seriously consider this for future versions of Gnome. "Why," you might ask?

    First, it is VERY fast. No, make that EXTREMELY FAST. For once, my PIII-866 feels like a fast machine. Running Linux or Windows, my computer feels considerably slower. Rox put a smile on my face with that.

    Second, this allows people to run multiple versions of applications, just like the mono project is supposed to.

    Third, it's easy to configure - is it SIMPLE, but effective. You can copy an application by copying a simple directory. It simplifies the dll hell by making applications self contained. You could even have multiple versions in one directory if you wanted to. (http://rox.sourceforge.net/appdirs.php3 shows a simple example with tgif).

    Finally, it works today. Mono is still several months off at the earliest, and requires chasing MS all over the place with regard to changes.
    • Excellent comments. You really know your stuff. Looks like you spend alot of time reading up on technology. =)
    • Running Linux or Windows, my computer feels considerably slower.

      Give me a break. There are plenty of desktops out there that are seriously low in resource usage. As far a being userfriendly, easy to configure, Drag-n-Drop compatible (everyone wants to drop dragons right?) I've always recomended XFce. It uses up practically no system resources, looks pretty nice, and you learn how to do everything in about 5 minutes. It may be a CDEish clone, but it's much nicer by all accounts.

      As a matter of fact, I tried out the ROX-filer as my file manager for some time, but I never liked it as much as XFce's built in file manager so I switched back. (Who want's to go to submenu after submenu just to get to the delete option?) XFce does everything much better.

      But I shouldn't rant. These are the kinds of comments I expect from someone that hasn't used anything but GNOME and KDE.
      • Re:Beats Gnome 4.0 (Score:4, Informative)

        by tal197 (144614) on Monday February 18, 2002 @06:04PM (#3028722) Homepage Journal
        Who want's to go to submenu after submenu just to get to the delete option?

        There are a few things you can do about this:

        • Bind a key (eg, Ctrl-X) to Delete. Now, you can just press Ctrl-X and click on the file.
        • Bring up the menu with Ctrl held down. That way, the pointer will appear right in the middle of the menu you want.
        • Bind ! to open the shell minibuffer. Then you can type !rm<Return> to delete the file under the cursor.
        • Use Gtk+-2.0 (compile using --with-gtk2). This supports Mac-style menus that let you move quickly from the root menu to the Delete entry in the submenu without it closing. Since the menu with Delete is already open when the main menu is displayed, you just move the mouse straight to the item.

        I may make an option so that right-clicking a file goes straight to the context menu. For most users, though, it's better to show them the whole menu every time.

        • You have some very good solutions there, but that was just one of the limitations of Rox compared with XFTree (xfce's file manager). I'd have to have it in front of me to give specifics, but I'm sure you could try XFTree and compare the two yourself. That's not to say ROX doesn't have it's good points too.
  • What ROX Lacks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tjw (27390)
    First let me say that ROX is my favorite graphical
    file manager for X. With that said, let me
    tell you why I don't use it. It lacks the ability
    to save view preferences on a per-directory basis.
    A directory with one file opens up with the same
    default view preferences as a directory with 200
    files. There needs to be a way to save window
    size, icon size, sort order, etc.

    Actually, the real reason I don't use it, is
    because a modern shell seems so much more
    efficient at file operations than any
    graphical file manager could be.

    • Re:What ROX Lacks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Junta (36770)
      What you say is true about ROX needing per-directory prefs, but I would say that isn't too far off.

      The thing about the shell is true too, but ROX is so much closer to shell flexibility than any file manager I have seen.

      Every action can quickly and easily be assigned a single key shortcut. And those actions range from opening up a terminal in the current directory, to filemask based file selections, to running arbitrary command lines in current directory, to navigation through typing paths with tab completion. Granted, you can't do the fancy things
      like while and for loops with really fancy stuff, but with well written apps that can accept multiple drops, this becomes less of an issue. Now for applications such as highly configurable completion that extends beyond filenames into arbitrary sets, zsh is the command line shell of choice to complement ROX-Filer. Never been so satisfied with a User Interface design in my life.
    • Re:What ROX Lacks (Score:2, Informative)

      by Atomic Frog (28268)
      ...the OS/2 WPS already has.
      Per folder (as in real directories on your file system), you can define any window size, icon arrangement, background colour, font, layout (free, grid, etc), large/small icon or just text, just about anything you can imagine.
      Customization of colours, fonts, background is all via simple drag 'n drop if you wish.

      Great step forward for Linux, but it's just catching up to something been done waaay back in the mid-90's
    • First let me say that ROX is my favorite graphical file manager for X. With that said, let me tell you why I don't use it. It lacks the ability to save view preferences on a per-directory basis. A directory with one file opens up with the same default view preferences as a directory with 200 files. There needs to be a way to save window size, icon size, sort order, etc.

      Agreed.

      Actually, the real reason I don't use it, is because a modern shell seems so much more efficient at file operations than any graphical file manager could be.

      Umm...ROX integrates BEAUTIFULLY with command shells. Try WIndow->Shell Command... You'll like it. You can also 'select if...' etc. VERY powerful.

  • Brilliant system... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Junta (36770) on Monday February 18, 2002 @04:26PM (#3028179)
    What I like so much about the ROX-Filer is that is acheives the useful functionality of Gnome/KDE without the cruft, so it goes unbelievably fast.

    And Python programmers should take a look at ROX-Lib. The primary bit that is really cool is the really simple API for creating, accessing and modifying xml configuration files that follow the same ~/Choices/ convention that ROX-Filer follows, which seems infinitely better than the standard of polluting your home directory with dotfiles and dotdirectories... Not only that, but also will generate a nice, usable GUI to manipulate those files without the programmer having to build it by hand (though the programmer has to provide a well hinted sample xml file, but this is *far* more trivial than writing the gui out by hand). Not only does this make things easy on the developer, but also enforces consistency among apps that choose to use it.

    Also, the entire concept of AppDirs is very very nice. Installing an application simply involves dragging it wherever you want, and it doesn't scatter files all over the file system, making package management a moot point. The de-facto standard has been to scatter files all over the damn place right next to other packages and this creates a huge problem package managers have been trying to solve effectively, but it is never perfect (packages occasionally make modifications not tracked by these managers). AppDir as ROX is designed around and specifies keeps package files well separated, in its own AppDir, own subdir of a system Choices directory, or per-user Choices directories. Nothing stops a bad developer from breaking this convention, but there rarely is a need, at most placing a wrapper script in /usr/local/bin for command-line support. Removing a package is as simple as removing those three folders. Of course, the AppDirs don't run as cleanly under command lines and library tools, but there is a patch to bash to support AppDirs and ROX-Lib demonstrates well how libraries can work in this system. In the meantime scripts that wrap AppRun calls are easy enough to place in the path.. I have PythonTheater (a media player designed with ROX in mind) configured in this manner (http://xtheater.sourceforge.net/)

    Only issue with ROX-Lib is that it is python specific, so all that cool stuff is only for python developers, but I like python too :)
    • by tuffy (10202)
      The primary bit that is really cool is the really simple API for creating, accessing and modifying xml configuration files that follow the same ~/Choices/ convention that ROX-Filer follows, which seems infinitely better than the standard of polluting your home directory with dotfiles and dotdirectories...

      The seemingly hard-coded use of the "~/Choices" directory is the one thing that irks me about the ROX-Filer. The convention of .directory is that stuff which needs some disk space but is used only by apps should be hidden from view so that I don't have to look at it when I list my home dir contents. Now, I'm stuck with the vaguely-worded "Choices" directory that would've been better placed in a ".ROX" directory so that I wouldn't have to look at it all the time, but would know what it was at a glance when doing a "ls -a".

      • Well, I think the choice of name is appropriate, storage of user "Choices", but Preferences might be a better name... The Idea behind a generic name is that is isn't supposed to be a necessarily ROX-only standard, so .ROX would be a bad name, you would be heading back to the dotdirectory mess we have now. It may seem trivial to say that 'ls -a' looks cluttered (If it hurts, don't do it), but It makes a lot more sense to have a relatively generic subdirectory dedicated to all package configuration data. Not only does ROX use the Choices directory (though they did lead the way and set the example in a way accessible to Linux), a few other apps (i.e. PythonTheater) use the structure too, and it works well.
        • The Idea behind a generic name is that is isn't supposed to be a necessarily ROX-only standard, so .ROX would be a bad name, you would be heading back to the dotdirectory mess we have now.

          I think the concept itself, of a standard place to map MIME types to applications, etc., is sound. But if folks are going to adhere to this particular standard, it would be nice to give it a name. That way, if ROX (among others) is using that "foo" system, it could be stored in a ".foo" subdirectory - not only with an easily identifyable name, but also hidden by default.

          Oh, and ROX *does* use a "CHOICESPATH" environment variable (as I just discovered) which should allow the directory to be moved (I think), but ROX breaks when the variable is set :(

          • Oh, and ROX *does* use a "CHOICESPATH" environment variable (as I just discovered) which should allow the directory to be moved (I think), but ROX breaks when the variable is set :(

            Note that it's a path, not just a directory. If you set it to just ~/.choices then the filer won't be able to find its icons... (still seems to run OK, though, apart from that ;-)

      • by mewse (69150)
        Amazing how five minutes research can turn up information such as the CHOICESPATH environment variable.

        It defaults to ~/Choices if you don't set it to something else.

        This is in Rox's FAQ on the project homepage.
    • Err...brilliant yes, but it's a case of BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! Who?

      OS/2. No kidding, and you thought it was dead (it isn't).

      Most apps are very well behaved, except for the compressed package it usually comes in, you are generally free to move stuff around as you wish.

      In fact Serenity Systems (www.serenity-systems.com) has taken this and run with it. Drag 'n drop installation over the network. Deploy your apps to many workstations via a single drag 'n drop.
      It can be done because nearly all the functionality is already built into OS/2's WPS.

      It may sound revolutionary to some of you, but millions of OS/2 users have already seen this.
  • nautilus vs rox (Score:2, Informative)

    by minus_273 (174041)
    I use nautilus onmy desktop, turn off alot of the bells and whistles, smooth icons etc, and you have a realtively fast system. It does not however compare to ROX as far as speed goes. I installed the ROX and i just found it.. lacking a polished interface, it was hard to configure.. the options menu had very few thing i could fiddle around with and as soon as in inatlled, i didn't know what to do. I personally think nautilus is the best fm as far as ease of use goes, speed, i give to ROX. ... heck anything beats GMC and its clunkyness
  • And now we have it. A brand new pr0n browsing desktop for Linux. Just like it always did, pr0n inspires yet another computer innovation.
  • after using gmc, Nautilus and Konqueror (and TkDesk, and various others), i found ROX.

    and never looked back.

    For the few times i need to use a file-manager (I usually prefer the command-line), ROX works like a charm. Plus it's not bloated and slow like Konqueror and the hideously bloated and slow Nautilus.

    I no longer use either GNOME or KDE because of the poor performance, which doesn't seem to be improving with newer releases, and WindowMaker + ROX run all the GTK+/Qt apps, without the baggage of some stupid Windows-alike 'Desktop Environment'

    It literally starts up in under a second on my P3-500, and does everything i need from a filemanager.

    I don't use the other ROX components, but the file manager is perfect for me.
  • Okay, this would seem to have one massive disadvantage, which appears to be borne out from my experiences with OS X.

    Of course, dragging and dropping apps to install is all very well for the user, but surely it completely removes the opportunity to use shared libraries? The reason Linux splashes files in different directories is to make them easy to share files with each other.

    Of course, I don't know this - but I'd bet anything that the reason the OS X installer for Mozilla is 15mb compared to 9/10 for Windows/Linux is because OS X doesn't have the same concept of shared libs, so much more must be shipped with the product. Interestingly, once decompressed Moz on OS X is 35mb, compared to 15 on my windows/linux box.

    Just a thought.

    • Yeah, I remember too when space used to be a problem. Now 20mb is nothing. Using it to get rid of dll/so/version hell is a choice that suits me fine; YMMV.
      Having said that, I've no idea whether the ROX method actually does involve using extra disk space.
    • I don't understand why people think shared libraries couldn't work under such a system. Though it is a collection of Python modules rather than libraries, ROX-Lib provides a proof of concept for libraries as AppDirs. Of course you could get similar behvor by having /usr/local/Lib (for example) as a library appdir, with each library having it's own subdirectory, having a name like mylib.so in each, with whatever else the library needs in the same directory. The linker could probably be patched to understand this jsut a tad slower than current...

      Additionally, who says you can't mix and match? Dynamic libraries as files in a directory and applications as folders? Kinda like windows does (except have a command interpreter that would parse those AppDir in the path and execute automatically AppRun programs in them to avoid large PATH variables)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The next phase .17 is to turn Enlightenment into a desktop shell. I am wondering if the enlightenment developers are taking a look at this appaorch...
  • Great job guys! ROX continues to be the most elegant filer available for linux. Small, light, fast, intuitive, and stays the fsck out of your way!

    And all this praise from a WPS bigot (you guys are getting there!)

    Congrats again. Here's to doing it the right way (not following micro$loth, KDE, Gnome crap).

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Monday February 18, 2002 @08:42PM (#3029467) Homepage
    Here's a neat one I wrote to create 'filter folders' Basically a ROX object that will show stuff in a folder based on a perl regexp using symlinks. Check it out:

    ROXFilter [homeip.net]

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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