Magnus Bergman magnus.bergman at
Fri Apr 7 19:00:45 EEST 2006

On Thu, 6 Apr 2006 10:51:49 +1000
"Benjamin Rich" < at> wrote:

> Hi,
> I propose an idea about arranging a user's files. First, a little
> background.
> Why is it that in Windows/KDE/GNOME/MacOSX etc. there are two
> directories for user information - the user's home area (or My
> Documents, etc.) and the Desktop?

As said earlier the is reason is that most people don't want everything
in their home directory to show up on the desktop. But then there are
some people who wants exactly that. For that reason Rox filer has an
option to use the home directory as desktop directory. Perhaps such an
option could be added in your favorite file manager too if you talk
with the maintainers (or even better send a patch).

> The separation seems to be historical. Windows has the desktop as an
> area for application shortcuts, while the documents & settings/home
> area was recently invented as a place to store personal files on a
> multi-user system (windows has only been multi-user since 2000,
> remember). But Windows also allows and has allowed the savings of
> files and programs to the desktop, thus confusing the issue. The
> desktop used to be once place on a single-user system - other files
> could be arranged in directories in the system root. But now with the
> compartmentalisation of desktop into a user's home area inside of
> documents & settings etc. etc., things get stupidly complex. Introduce
> the concepts of having application links in the start menu and the
> quicklaunch bar, and suddenly it starts to get very ambiguous and
> confusing.

The way I see it, the desktop is just another subdirectory of my home
directory. Thus I should be able to put anything I want wherever I want
in my home directory, and not having any application (or standard for
that matter) telling me what I can and can't put there.

There are also people who think the desktop is not for files at all.
There are applications which use it for showing iconified (aka
minimized) windows, others using it as a clipboard for lifted (aka
cut/copied files).

And there also people who don't like to use the "start"-menu or the
quickbar. Some of them might like to use the desktop exclusively for
application launchers.

> The Linux desktops seemed to follow on from this idea because it was
> established convention. Anything including files and app launchers
> could be placed on the desktop. Originally it would seem, Desktop was
> made a separate directory in the user's home area because early
> implementations of the 'Computer' icon or 'Network' icon were actual
> modified launcher files, not as they are today, invisible objects
> which nautilus/kde/etc. place on the desktop field dynamically. So, in
> order to not clutter a user's content with meta-icon-launchers and
> other fluff, there was a line drawn.

I personally like the idea that anything (that is a file) can be placed
on the desktop. But I like the idea that anything can be removed from
the desktop even more.

> But we are still left with this pointless separation. Why not have one
> place only for applications, and one place for a user's files?
> Applications launched only from a bar, or a menu; and files in the
> user's home area displayed on the desktop?
> What is the point of saving files to the desktop so they're easily
> accessible; but then having to move them into the home directory? 2x
> organisation for the user, wasting time they could be spending
> actually using their files.

But every file that is saved on the desktop IS in the home directory.
If people save files on their desktops they don't have to move it if
they don't want to.

> Why have application launchers on the desktop? Once you've launched an
> app, it takes up the screen, and the desktop is obscured so you can't
> launch any others. Isn't this why panels and the 'quick launch' bar in
> windows, and so forth, were invented? Look at the simplicity of the
> Mac OSX dock, I say.

Some people don't usually maximize their windows (some window-managers
don't even have such a concept) but place them so they don't cover the
icons. Some other people only use one application at a time (on each
desktop) and therefore they feel no need to access the desktop once the
application is started. So if this this is a problem or not only depends
on your habits.

> Many users don't understand the separation of desktop and home area,
> and many windows users save their recent files to the desktop,
> creating a massively cluttered space. Why not organise this space
> using meta-data, or an even more interesting paradigm presented here:
> This allows a home users to see all the things they need to, always.
> No more ferreting around in directory heirarchies, exposed to the
> meaingless structure of the internal system - just all their stuff,
> right there, on the desktop.
> So in short, I move to create a standard which:
> -makes all content in /home/user available on user's desktop space

I'm quite sure that is something only a minority of users want. But
sure it could very well be available as an option to satisfy that

> -does not allow app launchers on the desktop

Not allowing applications clutter the desktop with launchers is a good
idea. They only need to install a launcher in
PREFIX/share/applications, which is how things usually work but perhaps
it needs stronger emphasis.

> -removes the /home/user/Desktop directory, because it is no longer
> needed

Everybody who doesn't need it is free to remove it.

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