Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

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That Random Guy
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 1:08 am

Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby That Random Guy » Wed May 03, 2017 1:28 am

Hello,

I've posted this question on a number of related forums but have not received adequate feedback.

My main concern with LXDE—as of right now—is the lacking panel menu or "start menu", as some would call it.

It severely lacks a lot of attributes and standard styling that almost every other distro or OS incorporates into what one would consider a menu.

I didn't mind the menu just having an array of links (at first), but the menu itself is way too small. Font size isn't the issue I'm trying to address, however.

What it really boils down to is that the menu lacks a lot. It's almost too simple.

Is there any way I can replace this "component" or at least make it more functional?

If not, then are there any plans for making upgrades to this component?

For starters, a search field would be nice.

Buttons for easier access to the shutdown, restart functions would certainly help as well.

These are all things I thought would've been intuitive for any menu design/implementation, but I guess I was wrong.

Any tips?

P.S. - I get this specific framework is built on "fast and simple", but it would be nice if they at least included an option for us who would like extra functionality from something that's already way too simple.
Last edited by That Random Guy on Wed May 03, 2017 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

seppalta
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Re: Any plans on updating LX menu design?

Postby seppalta » Wed May 03, 2017 7:31 am

You can expand and/or upgrade the Openbox menu, which is present in lxde, to do or to be just about anything - similarly if you just replace lxpanel with its parent, fbpanel. See the menu and and panel links: http://lxlinux.com/#10, and especially Section 9 images: http://lxlinux.com/#9. Here is a photo of my current root menu showing 9 favorites apps (a "start menu", if you like) and an ffmpeg submenu built to do media editing:
Image .

Openbox emphasizes utility over aesthetics, which is why it is so popular.
Finally, if you like one of the bigger clumsy menus in another desktop, openbox is very versatile and probably allows its installation.

That Random Guy
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 1:08 am

Re: Any plans on updating LX menu design?

Postby That Random Guy » Wed May 03, 2017 9:07 pm

seppalta wrote:You can expand and/or upgrade the Openbox menu, which is present in lxde, to do or to be just about anything - similarly if you just replace lxpanel with its parent, fbpanel. See the menu and and panel links: http://lxlinux.com/#10, and especially Section 9 images: http://lxlinux.com/#9. Here is a photo of my current root menu showing 9 favorites apps (a "start menu", if you like) and an ffmpeg submenu built to do media editing .

Openbox emphasizes utility over aesthetics, which is why it is so popular.
Finally, if you like one of the bigger clumsy menus in another desktop, openbox is very versatile and probably allows its installation.


seppalta wrote:You can expand and/or upgrade the Openbox menu, which is present in lxde, to do or to be just about anything - similarly if you just replace lxpanel with its parent, fbpanel. See the menu and and panel links: http://lxlinux.com/#10, and especially Section 9 images: http://lxlinux.com/#9. Here is a photo of my current root menu showing 9 favorites apps (a "start menu", if you like) and an ffmpeg submenu built to do media editing: .

Openbox emphasizes utility over aesthetics, which is why it is so popular.
Finally, if you like one of the bigger clumsy menus in another desktop, openbox is very versatile and probably allows its installation.


I'll have a deeper look at the fbpanel solution when I get the chance.

Utility would suggest that it makes the experience or application useful to some greater extent.

The default implementation only provides bare-bone basic usability. It isn't convenient to use and it doesn't provide for easy access to simple things.

Having to drag your cursor across a small space seems kind of over-the-top for something as simple as discovery.

Most of the time I'm using the right-most button on the panel to shutdown (I'm using Lubuntu). It's convenient, but redundant.

I won't deny that it fulfills it's purpose. It does what most menus do in a simpler form, but it lacks a lot of what other menus have.

While I understand that aesthetics is not a major concern for the design, usability should be. They sort of go hand in hand in this case.

And to that extent, there should be an effort to allow for add-ons or functions (like search). Things that would (in my mind) make the experience better.

It'd be nice if the folks who developed the thing made plans to implement some kind of update that would natively allow for the addition of certain sub-components (e.g. search, redesign, menu layouts, menu themes, etc.).

This way, users won't be expected to look at other external sources for something that's being maintained locally.

That's my input on the matter.

In any case, I'll see what I can do. Going by the photo, your implementation at least allows for a button for shutdown (which works nice).

seppalta
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Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby seppalta » Thu May 04, 2017 2:06 am

I agree an openbox based distro at install looks sparse. Offering up a rigid set-up with a few extra alterations is not its forte. What it does offer is extreme flexibility, simplicity, speed and a format that can be configured to include anything. Take, for example, the xfce4 whisker menu. It is big, glossy and seems to have those aesthetic things you are wanting. But count how many times you have to click a button to get an app launched and compare that with the openbox menus. Also, compare the effort, if possible at all, to add new things to these big rigid menus compared to the openbox root menu or the lxpanel menu or the http://lxlinux.com/fbpanel.html fbpanel menu. Here is a picture of an open fbpanel menu, which is similar to lxpanel menu, but significantly easier to edit:

Image.

I've configured it to have 5 quick launchers ("favorites"). Each required about 30 seconds to add, 3 lines giving name, icon and exec in the config file - maybe 5 seconds to remove, whatever it takes to erase or comment out 3 lines.

You should also give a look at wmdrawer: http://lxlinux.com/dock.html. It can be easily programmed to have any matrix of launchers that you like - a real "start-up" with the launchers you want, not what somebody else decides you should have, and God forbid that you should change their choice. Here is a picture:

Image.

The menu is normally hidden. Place the pointer over the penquin icon and the menu pops up whichever direction you program, click your desired app and Bang! there it is. Wmdrawer takes up a couple hundred kb, has one simple text configuation file and is a normal adjunct to openbox. Things like this is what makes openbox so attractive.

rufwoof
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Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby rufwoof » Thu May 04, 2017 7:08 pm

Try creating a openbox menu with just icons seppalta. For a single layer it looks quite nice - a column of icons to choose from. When there are further layers/sub menus ... not so good as you have a arrow pointer to the sub menu alongside the column of icons.

I have the menu pop up by default when the desktop is left mouse clicked, and the desktops/open programs menu pop up on right-clicking the desktop (I don't like the middle scrollwheel clicking default choice). I used obconf to set a 1 pixel left hand screen edge margin, so even if a program is full screened I can mouse over to the left edge and click to see a column of icons (menu). As a single column of icons its like having a auto-hide panel of programs on the left screen edge when a program window is full screen, but where that column of programs can also be popped up anywhere else next to the mouse when the desktop is clicked. Add pipe menus and menu values can be dynamic ... such as showing the date, time or calendar (cal)

Install brightside hot corner program along with installing skippy-xd and you can set a hot corner (using brightside) to run skippy-xd ... that provides a tiled sort of view of all open programs (including minimised) that you can switch to, minimise or close from that overview window.

With the tray in something like stalonetray and set to autohide in another corner .. for the likes of network connection, skype, orage/osmo calendar ...etc tray icons you can get by without any panel at all. For a clock there's always conky (that can display memory/disk/net activity as well).
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rufwoof
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Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 10:49 am

Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby rufwoof » Thu May 04, 2017 7:15 pm

That Random Guy wrote:Is there any way I can replace this "component" or at least make it more functional?

LXDE is pretty separated, lxappearance, lxinput, lxpanel ...etc can all be run individually on top of openbox ... or not.

If you switched out lxpanel for Xfce's panel then that has a whisker menu choice ... that sounds like it might be more to your taste.

I don't know how you built/build your system, I tend to use debian standard (command line only) and add xorg and openbox on top of that .... which gets you to net connected and a gui desktop ... and then just add things to that. pcmanfm (filemanager), leafpad, gaculator, mtpaint, libreoffice, skype, kodi, lxappearance, lxinput, tint2 (panel), wicd (network/wifi) ....etc are more my sort of typical choices. I also like pulseaudio (and install pavucontrol along with that).

rufwoof
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 10:49 am

Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby rufwoof » Thu May 04, 2017 8:02 pm

A couple of clickable thumbnails showing that sub-menu right arrow

Image

This one is of skippy-xd activated (mouse into bottom left corner in my case (where I've set brightside to activate skippy-xd)

Image

seppalta
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Location: USA
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Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby seppalta » Thu May 04, 2017 11:31 pm

Rufwoof, sounds like you have a nice system. This is what is nice about Openbox. Just about anyone can design his own desktop. You people new to openbox, don't let the commentary fool you. It is much easier for a literate person to configure with words in a text than click some buttons offered by an overly simplified GUI that, at most, will only achieve a small piece of what you really want. So when someone states that openbox or lxde is "over-simplified", or "ugly", or "offers no ways to be modified", or "lacking", etc, they are just expressing their own lack of information, which is surprising because the Internet literature on Openbox is huge. I've put up on my website (hhtp://lxlinux.com) stuff that has crossed my path, but that only scratches the surface.

Rufwoof: I don't know how you built/build your system, ...


My starting point is to install a basic openbox based distro like SparkyLinux MinimalGUI - No Codecs (https://sparkylinux.org/download/), based upon Debian Testing, because it is not so minimal as to require a lot of mundane setting up, but, on the other hand, has very little bloat. For those who like Ubuntu and the vast Ubuntu repository app collection and vast support network, there is Icebox (https://unit193.net/icebox/), a minimal openbox distribution similar to Sparky that can be easily built into a full-fledged operating system. For a detailed configuration recipe, see Icebox Configuration (http://lxlinux.com/icebox.html).

Rufwoof: If you switched out lxpanel for Xfce's panel then that has a whisker menu choice ...


Once upon a time I used whisker menu a few days to just see what it was. I recall installing it as an app on fbpanel, so I do not think you need xfce4-panel to use it, that is, its exec is independent of any other xfce4 component.

That Random Guy
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 1:08 am

Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby That Random Guy » Thu May 04, 2017 11:43 pm

rufwoof wrote:Try creating a openbox menu with just icons seppalta. For a single layer it looks quite nice - a column of icons to choose from. When there are further layers/sub menus ... not so good as you have a arrow pointer to the sub menu alongside the column of icons.

I have the menu pop up by default when the desktop is left mouse clicked, and the desktops/open programs menu pop up on right-clicking the desktop (I don't like the middle scrollwheel clicking default choice). I used obconf to set a 1 pixel left hand screen edge margin, so even if a program is full screened I can mouse over to the left edge and click to see a column of icons (menu). As a single column of icons its like having a auto-hide panel of programs on the left screen edge when a program window is full screen, but where that column of programs can also be popped up anywhere else next to the mouse when the desktop is clicked. Add pipe menus and menu values can be dynamic ... such as showing the date, time or calendar (cal)

Install brightside hot corner program along with installing skippy-xd and you can set a hot corner (using brightside) to run skippy-xd ... that provides a tiled sort of view of all open programs (including minimised) that you can switch to, minimise or close from that overview window.

With the tray in something like stalonetray and set to autohide in another corner .. for the likes of network connection, skype, orage/osmo calendar ...etc tray icons you can get by without any panel at all. For a clock there's always conky (that can display memory/disk/net activity as well).



Perhaps I should've clarified a bit sooner, but I'm not that endorsed with doing that kind of coding.

I guess the first question to ask from all of what you've said is: how would one go about making their own openbox menu?

Is it by using one of the built in utilities or is there actual coding involved here?

Either way, I have no experience with any of it.

I just started using Linux, and I'm only using this to test if I can achieve some mimicry for then I finally install on my old laptop.

What I'm asking for is not a do-over of the menu entirely, but rather something that looks like Xubuntu's menu, or any other modern menu that isn't so archaic-looking.

That Random Guy
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed May 03, 2017 1:08 am

Re: Any plans on updating LX [panel/start] menu design?

Postby That Random Guy » Thu May 04, 2017 11:52 pm

rufwoof wrote:
That Random Guy wrote:Is there any way I can replace this "component" or at least make it more functional?

LXDE is pretty separated, lxappearance, lxinput, lxpanel ...etc can all be run individually on top of openbox ... or not.

If you switched out lxpanel for Xfce's panel then that has a whisker menu choice ... that sounds like it might be more to your taste.

I don't know how you built/build your system, I tend to use debian standard (command line only) and add xorg and openbox on top of that .... which gets you to net connected and a gui desktop ... and then just add things to that. pcmanfm (filemanager), leafpad, gaculator, mtpaint, libreoffice, skype, kodi, lxappearance, lxinput, tint2 (panel), wicd (network/wifi) ....etc are more my sort of typical choices. I also like pulseaudio (and install pavucontrol along with that).


That would be the best solution for my needs.

However, it appears that it might not be so easy to implement.

People have been able to get some wacky implementation to work by running both XCFE and LXDE at the same time, but that's not really a practical one in my book.

It'd be nice if there was a way to import the Whisker Menu into LXDE and swap out the default menu.


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