The TinyCore Desktop
TinyCore is one of the few Linux distros that do not use Gnome or KDE as a desktop
In line with it's "no frills" ethos, the TinyCore desktop can best be described as "basic". TinyCore is one of the few Linux distros that do not use Gnome or KDE as a desktop. This is primarily because it is intended as a lightweight "no frills" Linux and using one of the major GUIs would greatly impact both the size and minimum hardware specifications required. Instead, TinyCore uses the Fast Light Window Manager (flwm).
You can view a video in our Video Section of the TinyCore desktop in use
When you boot TinyCore, the desktop will display:
The entire area outside of the toolbar is considered the desktop. If you click in this area (-it can be a left or right click: it makes no difference) a pop-up menu will appear, giving you access to all the functions that are available from the wbar (toolbar) and more. The initial menu that displays shows three basic options:
These options comprise:
- SystemTools : this takes you to a sub menu listing the main system administration functions (-see below)
- NewDesktop : create a new virtual desktop
- Logout : brings up the Shutdown Options dialogue box
The last two options are covered in later sections but the most useful option is the first which, when you slide the mouse to the right of it, brings up a large submenu of options:
These cover the following functions (top to bottom):
- Browse the list of available applications available for installation
- Manage any patches/updates for TinyCore and any installed applications
- Display the TinyCore system administration control panel dialogue
- Open a text editor window
- Mount/unmount a disc drive
- Run a command or program
- Take a screenshot of the desktop
- Start/stop/show the currently running services (daemons)
- Set the system date/time
- Open a command line window
- Run the Linux top command to show the most active processes on the system
- Configure the wbar toolbar (add/remove icons, etc)
- Forcibly shutdown a window from the desktop
These are fairly self-explanatory - and the best way to get more familiar with them is just to play around with them - but this should give you a good appreciation of the basic functions available.
A virtual desktop (-also known as a workspace under Gnome) allows you to organise your windows into several desktops that you can switch between. This allows you to group windows for different tasks in separate areas: for example, you could keep your email and chat applications in one virtual desktop - and your word processor in another.
To create a new virtual desktop in TinyCore, simply click on the background, to bring up the popup menu:
Choose the "NewDesktop" option to create a new virtual desktop. Click again on the background and you will notice extra options have now been added to the pop-up menu:
These new options comprise:
- Desktop 2 : a click takes you to desktop #2
- Desktop 1 : a click takes you to desktop #1
- Sticky : a click takes you to windows active over all desktops
If you click either of the "Desktop #" options, you will be taken to that virtual desktop; if you slide your pointer to the right of the option, you can also choose a window on that desktop to switch to or, if there are no active windows in that workspace, to delete that workspace altogether.
Once you have displayed a desktop, any windows opened will be associated with that desktop only. If you want your window to appear whichever desktop is being displayed, then choose the "Sticky" option before opening it, rather than one of the numbered desktops.
The bulk of your desktop interaction with TinyCore will be through the wbar, which is a scrollable toolbar at the bottom of the screen. This allows you to access all the main functions (-and any installed applications) by clicking on the relevant icon:
The default applications are (left to right):
|Shutdown Options||Click this icon to exit TinyCore and select whether to save or discard any changes|
|Command Line||Click this icon to open a command line window|
|AppsAudit||Click this icon to display a window allowing you to patch/update TinyCore or any applications that you have installed|
|Editor||Click this icon to open up the simple text editor application|
|Control Panel||Click this icon to display the TinyCore control, which allows you to administer the system and configure it to your liking|
|AppBrowser||Click this icon to locate and install new applications|
|Run Command||Click this icon to enter a single shell command to run without opening up a command line window|
|Disc Mounter||Click this icon to mount/unmount the devices (e.g. disc drives) attached to your system|
|User Application||Any user-installed applications will be added to the end of the toolbar list (-the application shown here is the midnight commander file manager)|
When you have finished with TinyCore, click on the "Shutdown" icon in the toolbar:
This will bring up a dialogue asking you exactly what you wish to do:
The options comprise:
- Shutdown : power down
- Reboot : power down and power back on
- Exit to Prompt : quit the flwm GUI / desktop and return to the command line:
You can also specify if you want to save any changes - and to pick the device to save them to - so that they are available when you next boot into TinyCore.
Clicking "OK" will execute the selected option and "Cancel" will return you back to the TinyCore desktop.