by September 6, 2005 0 comments



Let’s face it, those who have been using Windows are simply fond of the Windows desktop environment, intuitively knowing where to find particular options and applications, such as the Calculator and Notepad programs under
Start>Programs>Accessories. In other words, even when working on another OS, a Windows user expects a Windows
desktop-like accessibility to options and applications.

When it comes to Linux, its popularity at the desktop is often benchmarked on the basis of how close it is to Windows. Take a look at the screenshot of the Win XP desktop. Believe it or not, this is running on Linux. But, neither is it running using Wine (an emulator program) nor it is running inside any virtual machine. This is XPde-a desktop environment aimed at bringing Windows XP-like environment and accessibility to Linux. XPde is a
standalone desktop environment and window manager. Note that XPde is not one of the many Windows-desktop themes for KDE; in fact, you can run it without KDE or GNOME.
In August 2003, PCQuest carried an article on XPde. Since then XPde has matured and then appeared as a completely re-written (developed from scratch) version of XPde. Version 0.5.1 is the second release of the rewritten
XPde.

Direct
Hit!
Applies to: Win and Linux desktop users
USP:
Install and use the new desktop environment for Linux
Primary link:
www.xpde.com
Google keywords: Win XP desktop Linux

To install it on PCQLinux 2005 (the Linux distribution given out with the March 2005 issue of PCQuest), download the XPde package from http://www.xpde. com/releases/xpde-0.5.1.tar.gz. Extract the archive in the directory /usr/share. This will produce a directory named xpde under /usr/share. Next, suppose you have a user account named ‘shekhar’ on the Linux machine. In the home directory (/home/ shekhar in this case) create or edit a file named .xinitrc with the following content.

/usr/share/xpde/bin/startxpde

A Win XP look alike desktop for Linux. It is a full fledged desktop environment and window manager for Linux

Login as ‘shekhar’. Restart X Window by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. If X does not come up, issue startx on the Linux command prompt. Subsequently, you should be greeted by the XPde desktop. Though this initial release of XPde looks great but it is not completely functional. Most menu items do not work. But the good news is that you can launch and use KDE and GNOME apps in XPde. Click on the ‘Command Prompt’ icon on the desktop and you can launch OpenOffice.org Writer (a

text editor) by issuing ‘oowriter’. The second method to launch KDE and GNOME applications is to create new icons/menu items or link existing ones to your preferred application.

Take a look at the directory named .xpde (note the dot prefix) in the home directory (/home/shekhar in our case). Here you will find directories named Desktop and Start Menu. Under these directories, the icons for Desktop and Start Menu are defined in files with an extension of .lnk. Take a look at these files by opening them in a text editor. You should be able
to get a hint on how to create a new icon. Also note that to create a new programs group like StartMenu>All Programs>
Accessories, you will have to create a directory and then place the .lnk files in it.

Notepad is one of the native apps bundled with XPde. It can be launched by clicking on StartMenu>All Programs >Accessories>Notepad One of the plus points about the new release is, some icons are linked to Linux applications. For example, the Internet Browser icon on the desktop is linked to Firefox
A full-fledged file explorer or browser for XPde is on the agenda. The screeshot above shows what it may look like Like in WinXP pressing ALT+TAB pops up the task switcher with which you can switch between applications

XPde is an ongoing project, so keep an eye on the XPde website for latest updates which may be more functional.

Shekhar Govindarajan, IT4Enterprise

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