An idea… IceWM Dynamic Desktop Menu

Forum Forums New users New Users and General Questions An idea… IceWM Dynamic Desktop Menu

  • This topic has 99 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated Oct 13-5:02 am by BobC.
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    Response times on the old Pentium III are pretty good compared to other things. For example, Firefox took 60 seconds to come up with nothing else running and lots of memory.

    Anyway, given that, the dynamic menus take 2 to 3 seconds to come up with icons. Its quite acceptable compared to losing 80 mb of memory to run the desktop.

    I was surpised to see Firfox taking the entire cPU just to idle with one tab with this page on it, but I guess there just isn’t much we can do about that, other than to run something else unless we really need something only Firefox can handle.

    Anyway, at least for now, I consider it a success.


    @BobC – Some feedback:

    First thing I did today was testing v5 of your scripts… In my own personal perspective there’s nothing else I know it’s being developed that I believe antiX (IceWM desktop) is lacking on the user interface front, other than this “Recent files” dynamic menu!
    In my single core 1800mzh CPU, the Recent files opens up instantly! So, for most users that have a computer with less than 11-12 years, it will be probably “instant” for them too!
    “Bug”- I don’t really think this is a bug- because I don’t even think the icons were a essential feature but… I tested this on antiX 19 b3 Live, and when going to Menu- Desktop – Desktop folder – the default file manager .desktop file didn’t present an icon.
    Suggestions- it always bugs me when different applications have the same icon… Having the “apps” icon in “Recent files”, “Desktop folder” and the “Applications menu” itself is a bit strange. Nice choice using the “File manager” icon on the “Drives” menu!

    Side remark on your Firefox taking about 60 seconds to load – I use ungoogled-chromium (along with Firefox) – it starts much faster than FF (takes about half the time – so it should take about 30 seconds to load on your PIII) and takes wayyy less idle RAM than FF – it’s also the most “private” browser I know off (in the sense of sharing information with third parties, I don’t know if tor-browser does “phones home” or not – it’s chromium stripped of everything google related, you can’t even easily add extensions).
    Also worth a mention is the “surf” browser- it’s a bit peculiar – it lacks even an address bar- it uses dmenu for the user to enter an web address- it’s really just a window that shows up webpages- no favourites, no history, nothing- but it’s as low specs as a modern browser can be- its modern enough to allow access to web mail and even youtube videos- taking almost no RAM in the process!
    Also- for a extremely fast app launcher/ file searcher, you can try “Drill”. In my computer the drill.appimage (that has to be decompressed to run) starts in less than a second, and unfortunately app-select here takes almost 3 seconds (about 5 on my netbook) to start. Both are usable, but Drill is a faster way to find and start applications. On the down side, Drill only searches for the app’s name, not the description, like app-select does…

    Very side remark/ suggestion – the work you did here, Bob, can be adapted for countless other uses… for example- recently I got to use a Windows 10 desktop (to be honest my computers run antiX and MX mainly because they are too low specs to run a modern Windows OS in a reliable way- I’m not a Open Software zelot- Linux just works for me) and I saw W10 had a “recently installed applications” entry on the menu. It would be a piece of cake to add that (recently installed packages, I mean) to the menu adapting your scripts… but I guess there’s no demand for that… It was just a way to illustrate my point…

    @Everyone else:

    For those that want to test drive this new menu entries, but are unsure what to do, it’s quite easy, but the fastest way I know implies that you have to open the terminal and paste a command there:
    1- to be on the safe side, open a file manager (I use SpaceFM myself), make hidden folders accessible if they are not already ( press ctrl + h keys ) and navigate to /home/USERNAME/.icewm and back up the menu and preferences files (ex: copy them somewhere else).
    2- download Bob’s scripts from
    3- unzip that file and navigate to the uncompressed folder (I use SpaceFM to unzip it and navigate to the folder’s contents and press F4 to open a terminal on that folder’s path)
    4- On the terminal, run:
    sudo cp *.sh /usr/local/bin && cp menu ~/.icewm && cp preferences ~/.icewm && icewm --restart
    5- if asked to, enter your password. After it’s done, you may close the terminal
    6- Done! Now, if you click the menu, right below the “personal” entry, you see two new entries – “Recent files” and “Drives”. These entries are self explanatory… The third new entry is available under Menu – Desktop – Desktop folder.
    Just in case you are wondering what’s the use of this “Desktop folder” menu, Bob has a compelling argument for it, all over this thread: it’s for users that have very low RAM available and want easy access to stuff on their “Desktop folder” and don’t want to “waste” RAM by using a file manager to “manage” the desktop – because if you are using one of the default antiX desktops ( icewm, jwm or fluxbox ) they don’t show desktop icons by themselves- a file manager is always running, managing those icons…

    -If you want to “uninstall” these new menu entries, simply copy the backup copies you made in step 1 to /home/USERNAME/.icewm
    If the “dynamic” entries are still in the menu, you may have to: Menu – Logout (right arrow) – Restart IceWM


    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by PPC.

    Thanks PPC,

    Yes, the icons problem is because there is no good one already in the icon path. I think that the links for the super common ones should be put into the first folder on the path, and then it would be quick to find them even on ancient hardware. If it finds it sooner, it will be much quicker. Maybe I could just provide the most needed icons for anti to copy to a good place.

    PS: thanks for writing up instructions.

    If anyone has problems with the recent files one, immediately zip a copy of
    ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel and then take a screen print of the problem and upload so I can analyze it.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by BobC.

    I looked and the file manager desktop not getting an icon is because it calls for user-home to be used, but that isn’t in the icon path. That would be one of the ones where I woulde suggest a link be in the first searched icon directory so it always is found quickly.

    I installed and tested on a 3rd fully updated machine, this time a 64 bit Dell (the one with Manjaro), and didn’t find any other problems thus far.

    Has anyone else tried them?


    I hit that problem with recentfiles again and figured it out with some help from a guy named Jon on stack overflow, and I retested and its good. I also checked and included PPC’s install instructions and they are in the #6 zip file attached.

    Again, let me know if anyone has found any problems, etc.



    Tonight I added multimenus for Recent Files. What it does is to load the most recent 70 files, and then display them with the first entry trying to open the XML file itself if you have a browser that likes these, and then in menu lists of 10 files per menu, with a “Next 10” option at the end of each, it lists the 70 most recent files. I’m still doing some testing, and will upload a screenshot of it and the new code when done.

    I changed it from 500 to 250 to 100 to 70 files as the limit because it was about 1 second to load. That might be 5 or 10 seconds on an old machine, and I don’t want it to be too slow to be useful. I get very frustrated when I try to use “recent files” on systems and they always seem to have already scrolled off the entries I was looking for, so this is my attempt to fix that.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by BobC.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by BobC.

    How about …
    1. A history of recent ten (10 latest) files and …
    2. A button to “Delete the history”?
    Real Life scenario …


    It would be best to make the number of entries to display configurable. Maybe it could be maintained with a little script. A delete option could be part of that. It sounds like something a YAD script could do, but that is not something I have had luck working with.

    If it existed, it would be quick to integrate. I would want a default of 50, myself, at least. Maybe it could ask the first time it’s run. There is not much point having a recent files option or list if they don’t remember the files you forgot.


    “I would want a default of 50, myself…”

    I would want a default of 10, myself… 😉

    Seriously, the sole point of the recent file list is to show a couple of recently opened files and not “all”.

    If it shows 50 or 100, then it needs not only a “Delete”, but also “Serarch recent files” field. 😉

    Take a look at any other OS out there … they didn’t choose 10 ~ 20 without a good reason.

    For more (which never happened) … there’s still “recently-used.xbel” …


    To each his own. It’s ok by me if you don’t agree with my opinion.

    The frustration caused by all the apps with only 10 or 20 is WHY I wrote it.

    Anyway, your point that some people would want less is a good point to try to satisfy people with requirements at both ends of the spectrum, as much as possible.


    I think that this thread represents a good example of the diversity found in the use cases of different Linux distributions and users. The reason there are so many different distributions is that there are many things that people want to do with their systems.

    With antiX in particular, I sincerely believe that the characteristics that distinguish us from others is the particular blend of tools, core applications and flexibility that even takes on a slightly different emphasis on the variety of builds available in the antiX and MX communities.

    Brian Masinick



    “To each his own. It’s ok by me if you don’t agree with my opinion.”

    My point wasn’t “to agree or to disagree”.

    (I personally always disable the search and the recent files list first upon each fresh install.)

    My point was only to show you that, no matter what or how you do something, there’s no way to make it “right” for all.

    It’s what masinick wrote just after me.

    There’s only a “better” or “worse” and there’s only one way to achieve that “better”.


    You could put in a feature request for that to be an install selection.

    Then later, my program will have no data to offer you.

    To be successful, programs should do what people will want or need them to do, not what you or I think they should do. I don’t agree with you making that decision for them.

    We should try to make things flexible to satisfy a high percentage of the expected user’s wishes.


    “We should try to make things flexible to satisfy a high percentage of the expected user’s wishes.”

    That’s exactly why the telemetry (“Oh no, they steel our data!”) was invented for.


    Hi Bob!
    I’ve tested the 3 latest versions of your script on my netbook… Here’s the feedback:
    – on speed: it takes about 3 or 4 seconds to open the Recent files menu on my single core Atom netbook… It can be a bit frustring, it happened a few times that I was just overing on the menu, to go the apllications entry, and when I passed over Recent files- the menu stopped responding for those seconds… I tried fiddling with the number of entries to be displayed- 10 seems to be the magic number, because the system just freezes for about a second… I can live with that (or use the no icons initial versions of the script, no problem at all!)
    – About your option to list files 10 at a time- it’s both kind of functional and weird- I can see the point, but can’t really adapt to it- it feels my screen in no time with a snake like menu.
    If I click the new option to see the last 70 entries, it just tries to open the file that lists the recent entries in Firefox, that in turns suggests me to open it in geany… (I’ve not had the chance to look at your code and see what’s it trying to do).
    – Suggestion: Once again, if I may be so bold, I can propose a different way to access “many” recent files- first, do as you do now- list the most recent 10, or 12, or whatever small number you see fit – I like 10, it’s fast to open on my old machine and it’s a round number 🙂 . Then have an option to process and list all the remaining files at once on the menu. In my view this strikes a balance between having fast response time on old hardware, allowing the user quick access to the latest recent files, but, also, like you like to use it- list the massive list of all entries the user can search, to find something the user may have forgotten about!
    – For some reason after I “froze” my antiX 19b3 frugal install, when I install the “dynamic desktop menu”, it just presents a strange line, with the gears icon- with text that seems to try to list the desktop contents- I’m assuming that’s a problem of my particular antiX install 🙁
    – About a YAD script to allow the user to choose how many recent files to list, I can do try to it, no problem at: in my opinion it could also offer the option to clear the recent files list. Drop me a line if you want it, Bob!
    Simple yad example to enter a variable and see it’s content on the terminal:

    limitlines= [start quote sign] yad –entry –entry-label=”Number of Recent entries that you want the menu do display:” [end quote sign]
    echo $limitlines

    PS: the forum kept messing with the code, so I used the [start quote sign] and [end quote sign], you should replace those with the appropriate characters…

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
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