Saturday, 5 March 2011

Using Screenlets

One slight niggle that I have with Avant Window Manager (AWN) on my Karmic machine is the absence of a decent WiFi status indicator. The Notification Area applet looks pretty dreary frankly and, despite searching, I haven't found an AWN applet suitable as a substitute.

A workaround is to abandon the idea of an applet all together and go for a screenlet.
"Screenlets are small owner-drawn applications (written in Python) that can be described as "the virtual representation of things lying/standing around on your desk". Sticknotes, clocks, rulers, ... the possibilities are endless.

The goal of the Screenlets base-classes is to simplify the creation of fully themeable mini-apps that each solve basic desktop-work-related needs and generally improve the usability and eye-candy of the modern composited Linux-desktop.
You can install Screenlets from the Ubuntu Software Centre: simply type Screenlets in the search box.
Highlight the Screenlets application; click the arrow on the right-hand-side and then click Install. That's simple enough! Once installed, you can launch the Screenlets Manager from the Applications > Accessories menu. However, in the standard package, you won't find the wireless app that you want; for that you'll need to download an additional application from the User Screenlets section of the Screenlets website.
  1. Find the Screenlet that you want from the list on the User Screenlets web page.
  2. Follow the instructions from the link and save the .tar file to your Downloads folder (or anywhere of your choice.)
  3. Open the Screenlets Manager (Applications > Accessories)
  4. Click on Install and select Install Screenlet from the drop-down dialog.

  5. Navigate to your download and click Open.
Now you should find the Screenlet in the Screenlet Manager's application window: select it and click the Launch/Add button to start your new app.

I'm using the WirelessScreenlet2 application for my WiFi needs.

Right-click the Screenlet to set your preferences including the theme and behaviour as well as the network and card.

Sources & References
Screenlets Org Home Page
User Screenlets Home Page

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