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Displaying Weather And System Information On A GNOME Desktop With gDesklets


This tutorial shows how you can display weather forecasts, system information like CPU and memory usage, news feeds, music player controls, etc. on a GNOME desktop with gDesklets. gDesklets is a programm that can place small desktop widgets on top of the user’s desktop.

I do not issue any

guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

This tutorial is based on Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft). However, this is important only for the gDesklets installation. The rest of the tutorial works the same on each other distribution (as long as you use the GNOME desktop).

 

2 Installing gDesklets

To install gDesklets, go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager:

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After Synaptic has started, you can either browse all packages to find the gDesklets package, or you use the Search function:

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After you’ve found the gDesklets package, click on it and select Mark for Installation:

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The package gdesklets-data will be marked for installation as a dependency of the gdesklets package (gdesklets-data contains lots of pre-configured desktop widgets):

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Click on Apply to start the installation:

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Click on Apply again:

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The two packages are downloaded and installed:

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After the installation you can close the Synaptic Package Manager:

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3 Placing Desktop Widgets On Your Desktop

Now that gDesklets is installed, go to Applications > Accessories and click on gDesklets to start it:

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If you start it for the first time, a message will pop up. Click on Close to make it go away:

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Now browse the categories in the gDesklets window. You will find lots of widgets that you can install. I want to install the SideCandy CPU monitor, so I double-click it:

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The SideCandy CPU widget will appear on the desktop, and you can move it to your desired location on the desktop with the mouse. Click with the mouse to lock it to your desired location:

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We’ve just installed our first desktop widget. Of course, we can use more than one at the same time. For example, I also want to know the state of my RAM and SWAP, so I double-click the SideCandy RAM/SWAP desklet in the gDesklets window and place it below my CPU monitor:

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To configure/move/remove a desklet, just right-click on it and select from the menu:

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4 Adding More Desklets To gDesklets

gDesklets already comes with lots of desklets that you can choose from, but of course you can also add additional desklets from the internet to it.

You can find additional desklets on these web sites (among others):

  • http://www.gdesklets.de
  • http://gdesklets.zencomputer.ca

For example, gDesklets comes with some weather desklets, but none of them is working for me (I always get Retrieval Failed when those weather desklets try to get weather details for my location). Therefore I’m going to install the GoodWeather desklet from http://gdesklets.zencomputer.ca. Download the GoodWeather.tar.gz file to your computer (e.g. your desktop):

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Afterwards, in the gDesklets window, we select File > Install package…:

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A file browser pops up. Select the GoodWeather.tar.gz file from your hard drive and click on Open:

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gDesklets will now automagically insert the GoodWeather desklet into its list of available desklets. Click on Close in the Installation complete window:

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Then double-click on the GoodWeather display entry in the gDesklets window. The GoodWeather desklet will then be placed on your desktop – use your mouse to move it to your preferred location on the desktop:

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Now we must customize the GoodWeather desklet so that it displays weather information from our area. The GoodWeather desklets retrieves its information from the www.weather.com web site, so we go there now and enter our location (e.g. Luneburg for Lüneburg – the site doesn’t seem to know umlauts…):

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On the next page, select Current (if there are results…):

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On the following page, take a look at the URL in the browser’s address bar. Each location has a unique identifier (location code), for example Lüneburg has GMXX0078. Copy the identifier:

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Then right-click on the GoodWeather desklet and select Configure desklet:

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The GoodWeather configuration window pops up. In the Location Code field, paste the location code (e.g. GMXX0078 for Lüneburg):

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Further down in the same window, you can specify what details (beside the temperature) the desklet should display (e.g. humidity, location (so that we know it displays the details for our area), update time, etc.):

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After you’ve closed the configuration window, the GoodWeather desklet should display the correct details for your area:

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5 Making Desklets Start Automatically After Reboots

Now there’s a little problem: whenever we reboot our system or log out of the current session, our desklets are gone. Of course, we don’t want to configure them again from the beginning each time we log in to our desktop.

To make our desklets start automatically after reboots, we go to System > Preferences > Sessions:

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In the Sessions window that opens go to the Startup Programs tab and click on Add:

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The Add Startup Program window opens. Type in gdesklets (all lowercase!) as Startup Command and click on OK:

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That’s it. Now whenever you log in to your desktop again, your desklets will start automatically.

 

  • GNOME: http://www.gnome.org
  • Additional Desklets: http://www.gdesklets.de, http://gdesklets.zencomputer.ca

 

 

 

 

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