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Re: Emacs as a desktop environment

From: Ted Zlatanov
Subject: Re: Emacs as a desktop environment
Date: Wed, 25 May 2011 05:28:09 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.110018 (No Gnus v0.18) Emacs/24.0.50 (gnu/linux)

On Wed, 25 May 2011 09:31:24 +0200 address@hidden wrote: 

j> Ted Zlatanov <address@hidden> writes:

>> I've been very frustrated lately with the memory and resource use of
>> gnome-panel, XFCE, and the new Unity UI in Ubuntu 11.04.  They use
>> multiple megabytes of memory for trivial things; they are slow, and they
>> make a machine with 3 GB of RAM feel slow just doing trivial things.
>> I think GNU Emacs, at least on GNU/Linux systems, can provide much of
>> the desktop environment functionality, so Emacs + a window manager like
>> XMonad is a full desktop experience:
>> - launch bar: a place to put icons associated with a program (simple toolbar)
>> - Applications, Places, and System menus: not sure how to connect those
>> - load indicators (CPU, memory, network load, etc.): can be done with SVG
>> - date, weather, market indicators: SVG and/or plain text
>> - workspace indicator: needs to talk to the window manager
>> - all file management: Dired
>> - icon dock for application and system indicators
>> I'd like to know how much of this can be achieved with today's GNU Emacs
>> plus the external packages (GNU ELPA, Tom Tromey's ELPA, EmacsWiki,
>> etc.) available, and how much will require new packages or changes to
>> Emacs' internals.

j> You can have a look at the Xembed branch. Its not functional ATM but the
j> README describes it pretty well I think. What its supposed to do is
j> allow embedding of applications inside Emacs. Then you wouldn't need a
j> WM at all :)

I'm not trying to get rid of the window manager, though several of the
indicators and applets could be written externally and use such
embedding instead of the native Emacs UI.

j> I've also been wanting to rewrite the SVG support to use the Cairo
j> renderer.

That would be nice, indeed.

On Wed, 25 May 2011 08:44:42 +0200 Frank Schmitt <address@hidden> wrote: 

FS> I felt very much the same and am now using LXDE which is really pretty
FS> nice in my opinion. You might want to give it a try.

Does it provide the things I listed?  Does it integrate well with the
Gnome and Ubuntu system and application menus?

On Wed, 25 May 2011 10:38:53 +0200 Geoffrey Teale <address@hidden> wrote: 

GT> There is at least one Emacs based window manager out there, though as
GT> I recall it's more for Xemacs than GNU Emacs.  I forget the name, but
GT> a quick search would find it I am sure.

I'm not suggesting to replace the window manager.  That piece has been
pluggable in X for decades so if Emacs can do it, great, but it's not a
resource hog like the other things I listed so it's less of a concern.

GT> For me the biggest issue with Emacs used in this way is that some
GT> tools block and would lock you out from doing things while they do.
GT> Prime example is GNUS - I use two emacs processes in normal operation,
GT> one for GNUs and one for everything else.  I'd love that not to be the
GT> case.

Yes, concurrency will help, but I don't mind launching multiple Emacs
instances to handle the various tasks I listed.

On Wed, 25 May 2011 10:52:27 +0200 Thien-Thi Nguyen <address@hidden> wrote: 

TN> You are not alone!  Here, Emacs + RPX (ratpoison clone in Scheme) + 512MB
TN> => no worries.

TN> My needs are simpler, however:
TN> [launch bar] No need!

Hmm, I find it useful.  It's not essential (dmenu can do it all for
instance) but certainly it's not useless.

TN> [Applications, Places, and System menus] No need!

That's often the only way to find an application.

TN> [load indicators] No need!  OK, "urxvt -e top" works, too.

TN> [date, weather, market indicators] No need!

TN> [workspace indicator] All in the mind.  Or, "work? what's that?
TN> space? nice place!".

I disagree, those are necessary.

TN> [icon dock] No need!

That's necessary for some applications and indicators, e.g. network
connection status.  It's not essential.

TN> What do you think of:
TN>   http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/XWindowEmacsManager

I think it's not the component I'm looking for.


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