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A Tour of the AntiX LXDE Desktop

 A Desktop Tour of AntiX Linux 11

The AntiX Graphical User Interface (GUI)

The AntiX distro is based on a fusion of Debian and Ubuntu sources, and ships with an LXDE based GUI/desktop. If you are familiar with the Linux Mint LXDE desktop, you may experience some feelings of deja vu! Like it's larger sibling, SimplyMEPIS, AntiX aims to provide a complete O/S that is usable straight out of the box - albeit one that is lighter on resources and more suited to older/low specification hardware.

..we see AntiX as a direct competitor to Puppy Linux in that it can run on antiquated or low-powered hardware..

If SimplyMEPIS is aimed at Linux Mint, we see AntiX as a direct competitor to Puppy Linux in that it can run on antiquated or low-powered hardware - and with a similar set of pre-installed applications (-see below).


Default Applications

One of the huge plus points of AntiX over it's rivals is the ability to run on low-specification hardware. However, this does not mean that it is a bare-bones installation! In fact, it comes pre-loaded with most of the applications you will need - meaning that you can start using it straight out of the box.

..the applications installed differ almost completely from it's SimplyMEPIS stablemate..

One thing to note here, is that the applications installed differ almost completely from it's SimplyMEPIS stablemate - and instead pretty much mirror those of Puppy linux. Here is a taster of some of the applications that AntiX release (11) is currently shipping with:

ApplicationPackage Used
Word Processor AbiWord
Image EditormtPaint
SpreadsheetsGnumeric
Email ClientIceApe Mail
Media PlayersGnome Player, ALSA Mixer
Video EditorN/A
Internet BrowserIceApe
ChatPidgin,ChatZilla
CD/DVD WriterAsunder CD Ripper,CD Ripper
Web SupportAdobe Flash Support/Zathura (PDF Reader)
Package ManagerSynaptic

In addition, it comes with all the system tools you would expect - as well as the ability to customize the look and feel should you so desire.

Note that even if an application is not in the default installation, it can be easily downloaded using the Synaptic Package Manager within minutes.

In summary, AntiX could be a good option for users new to Linux, who wish to give old hardware a new lease of life. If you can meet it's minimum requirements, we would recommend SimplyMEPIS over AntiX, mainly due to the impressive list of applications pre-installed. It's Debian base should ensure that there is no shortage of applications available should you find a gap in those that ship as standard.


The AntiX Desktop

AntiX is unusual in that it allows the user a choice of different window managers at boot time:

Both are light on scare resources but deliver a perfectly usable desktop: they perhaps lack the glitz/slickness and polish of a Gnome or KDE - but those are just eye-candy anyway.

For most of this section, we will concentrate on the [default] IceWm desktop shipped with AntiX version 11 (-which was the latest version at the time of writing) - but the Fluxbox desktop is very similar.

When you boot AntiX, the desktop will display:

The AntiX IceWm Desktop

As can be seen, the default desktop is a fairly spartan one - with a few icon shortcuts in the top left and the AntiX Toolbar along the bottom of the screen. The desktop background can be customized as desired, using the Control Center.

The shortcut icons displayed by default are shortcuts to the File Manager, Browser,Gnome MPlayer, QMMP MP3 Player, Command Line Window, Control Center, Word Processor and Installer.

Open windows and applications display in the main desktop area.

AntiX allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, by simply dragging the desired file to the "Desktop" heading in the left hand pane of the File Manager window. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.


The AntiX Fluxbox Desktop

If you decide to boot AntiX into the Fluxbox desktop, you will see it looks very similar to the IceWm equivalent:

The AntiX FluxBox Desktop

The major difference from the IceWm desktop is that the AntiX Toolbar is reduced to just the workspace-switcher, volume and time icons. To gain access to the Main Menu you need to use the Context Menu - by right-clicking on the desktop background.

FluxBox seems to be slightly more basic than IceWm, so is probably lighter on resources: we would suggest using it only if you dislike IceWm -or are particularly constrained by resources.


The AntiX Toolbar

The bulk of your desktop interaction with AntiX will be through the AntiX Toolbar at the bottom of the desktop:

The Mint Main Menu The Mint Main Menu Sub Menu

This can be divided into four main parts:

  • Icon for the AntiX Main MenuClicking on the large icon in the bottom left hand corner of the screen displays the Main Menu, which allows the user access to all the AntiX functions

  • Next, is a series of shortcuts:
    IconUsage
    AntiX Show Desktop IconThe icon immediately to the right of the Main Menu cog is minimizes all open windows to reveal the desktop: useful if, for example, you need to access an icon
    AntiXFile Manager IconThe next icon is the File Manager icon. Click this and a Thunar window will display
    AntiXSystem Settings IconThe next icon will bring up a Command Line window when clicked
    AntiXBrowser IconThe next icon is the Internet Browser icon. Click this and (by default) a IceApe browser window will display
    AntiXSystem Settings IconThe next icon is a shortcut to the Control Center area: click this and a new window will open up, allowing you to customize the desktop and other O/S features
    AntiXEmail Client IconThis icon is a shortcut to the Logout Menu
    AntiX Workspace Switcher IconThe series of icons immediately to the right of the Main Menu cog are the Workspace Switcher icon(s). Click one of the four numbered icons to switch between the available workspaces
  • In the middle part of the toolbar, the thumbnails of all open applications are listed: click on these to jump directly to that window -or to restore it to it's former size if it was previously minimized (iconified)

    AntiXApplication Minimized

  • On the right hand side of the toolbar is the system tray: this allows you to interact with any system program and processes (daemons) running in the background. What appears here depends on what you are doing and what it running on your system, but in the case above, the icons are as follows:

    IconUsage
    AntiXAlert IconThe icon immediately to the right of the application area is the Volume icon. Click this to mute or alter the sound volume
    AntiXPackage Mgr IconThe next icon is, in fact, just a display of the current system time. Unlike SimplyMEPIS, clicking this does not access the calendar
    AntiXCut and Paste IconClicking the carat icon toggles between the currently displayed icons and any additional ones that there is insufficient space to display on the current screen

The Main Menu

  • The Main Menu allows users to access to all the AntiX functions. This can be likened to the "Start" menu in Windows:

    Icon for the AntiX Main Menu

    From here you can access functions such as:

    Menu OptionUsage
    AccessoriesVarious small tools for making the most of your system:

    AntiX Accessories Menu

    GamesA few basic games to keep you amused
    GraphicsLists programs for dealing with images:

    AntiX Graphics Menu

    InternetList programs for accessing the internet:

    AntiX Internet Menu

    OfficeList any applications commonly used for business purposes:

    AntiX Office Menu

    Sound & VideoList any applications for audio / video viewing and editing:

    AntiXMultimedia Menu

    System ToolsClick this icon to access various system administration tools:

    AntiX System Menu

    SettingsUtilities for changing the setup / appearance of the desktop
    Logout..Options to close the current session, power off, restart, etc

    AntiX System Menu

    HelpAccess the help system / documentation
    Run...Click this to open a dialogue to run a program or script without dropping to the Terminal window

The Thunar File Manager

AntiX uses the Thunar File Manager - and this works very much like that of it's Ubuntu counterpart with only superficial differences (-mainly the general LXDE look and feel).

The File Manager can be accessed directly from the icon in the AntiX Toolbar - or via the "System Tools" option on the Main Menu. Both will open up a window to your user home directory, similar to that below:

AntiX Thunar File Manager

Left-click any item to select it -or double-click a directory to navigate down into it. Double-click a file to either open it or run it (-depending on whether it is executable or not). Right click a file to access the context menu - which allows you to rename, delete, copy the file, etc.


The Context Menu

If you right-click on any blank area of the MEPIS desktop, the Context Menu will display:

AntiX Context Menu

Unlike SimplyMEPIS, this displays a menu containing the same options as clicking on the Main Menu icon.


The AntiX Control Center

If you click either on the icon in the AntiX Toolbar or the "Control Center" icon on the Desktop, then the Control Center window will open up:

AntiX Control Center Window

This allows you to configure the operating system to your specific needs.


The IceApe Email Client

If you select either of the "IceApe Mail" options, in the "Internet" category of the Main Menu then a window to the IceApe email client will open up:

IceApe Email Client

Initially, this will allow you to configure the email client, then to read and write emails from these accounts.


Exiting AntiX

When you have finished with AntiX, select the "Logout..." option in the Main Menu, followed by the "Logout" option:

AntiX Logout Option

From here, you can select from a number of options:

AntiX Confirm Shutdown

Where:

  • Log Out : log out of the current user session
  • Lock Screen : lock the terminal (e.g. while you are away from the PC)
  • Suspend : save the current state in RAM and go into power-save mode
  • Hibernate : save the current state to disc and power down
  • Reboot : power the PC down, then back up
  • Shutdown : power down the PC, losing everything in memory

Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out. If you decide you wish to continue with the current session, simply on the "Close" button.

If you choose to shutdown the PC, you will be asked to confirm your choice, prior to carrying out the action.


References and Further Reading:


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