Posts Tagged ‘applet’

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File List Applet – now with more autotools!

I decided that before I did any more work on the applet, I would improve its installation process to make it easier for people to try it out. So, the process to get and build the source now looks like this:


  • Browse source here.
  • Download the source: bzr branch


  1. Install dependencies (Ubuntu package names given): sudo apt-get install python-xdg python-gnome2-desktop python-gtk2 python-pyinotify
  2. Branch the source using the bzr command, above.
  3. cd into the directory.
  4. ./configure --prefix=/usr (the prefix is important!)
  5. make
  6. sudo make install
  7. If the applet does not show up in your Add to Panel menu, try restarting the bonobo-activation-server: killall bonobo-activation-server.


Autotools is pretty much the standard in source package management on linux. Except for the name, there is nothing automatic about autotools. Every encounter I’ve had with autotools has usually defeated me and left me frustrated and leaving whatever I was working on to do something else. For me, because I had labeled it the next step, it basically stalled the entire project for a while. Most people tend to copy and paste other projects’ autotools setup, but I figured that was overkill for my purposes and I didn’t find anything that quite suited me. I looked at gnome-blog, but it seemed like some stuff wasn’t quite working properly and some was completely unnecessary… in fact, this seemed to be a trend when looking at the autotools stuff in projects. Why is this? Autotools is not simple and due to this simple fact, I think it fails completely on many levels. Developers massage it enough to get it working, but few actually understand it all – I know I sure don’t! So please forgive the sloppiness and feel free to send patches. :) I gave up doing a couple things, like getting the revision number (bzr revno) and including it in the version string (see I know it’s probably something super simple, but I couldn’t seem to pass a variable containing a string as the version….

I feel that GNOME, as a platform for development, could seriously benefit from some kind of frontend to autotools that handled GNOME development nicely and hid as much as possible from the developer (including all those nasty config files that pollute the package tree). Anyway, I did not have an enjoyable time grappling with autotools, but I’ll end this mini-rant here.

File List Applet – GNOME Panel Applet

This is kind of a proof of concept I’ve been playing with. The idea is that finding a file within a folder is often easier by type, and you are often only interested in the most recently modified file. The problem with a file manager is that although you can easily sort by either type or modification time, you cannot filter your view of all the other files you’re not interested in. I previously wanted to address this issue within Nautilus, (and I still believe this functionality would be wonderful in Nautilus), but I ended up doing this much less ambitious applet as a proof of concept.

This applet will let you add any number of folders to it, and will try to categorize the files automatically and intelligently. Currently, it’s more automatic than intelligent as it just looks at the mime-type. Even so, I’ve found it especially useful for keeping track of all my downloads:

Steven is catching up on the latest on and has downloaded a couple screencasts demoing the latest and greatest. These files are typically 2-10 megabytes, so they didn’t download instantly. Steven continues reading and forgot about the screencasts until a couple hours later. At that time, he can simply click on the File List Applet, select Downloads, select Video, and look at the top of the list for the newest files. Steven is happy. When finished, he can follow the same process to delete them – without once opening his file manager and being assaulted with ALL the files in his Downloads folder.

Ultimately, I would like to extend the idea to provide the same type/subtype menu system for all files under all folders – a type of summary – but I have not implemented that yet. There are other features in the cooking pot, as well, but I have to get started on some “RL” tasks… like my resume. :)


I had a problem recording audio, so I ended up typing as narration. Unfortunately, this makes the YouTube one pretty unwatchable, but you can give the “HQ” version a try.


No tarball yet as it’s still extremely rough.
Browse the source here.
Branch the source: bzr branch


Update 2009/04/05: Updated install instructions here. (Some people don’t look at the comments….)

Installing will require some manual modifications.

  1. First, make sure you have the following packages (Ubuntu): python-xdg, python-gnome2-desktop, python-gtk2, python-pyinotify
  2. Then branch the source.
  3. Adjust the FileListApplet.server file’s location to wherever you keep it.
  4. Then copy FileListApplet.server to /usr/lib/bonobo/servers/.
  5. Restart the bonobo-activation-server. killall bonobo-activation-server
  6. Add it to the panel like other applets.

Update 2008/12/05: Added a couple screenshots.