Monday, 8 May 2017

Perl Panel, an amazing lightweight utility

I usually use the Mate desktop environment with Openbox as the window manager, but I've been looking for something that I can customise to the hilt. But the standard Openbox desktop can be a little bland, so I went looking for a light weight panel and found one that is amazing, in my opinion.

Enter Perl Panel, it hasn't been updated in some time but it is solid and very customisation. I will be learning how to write applets which are naturally written in Perl, a language I'd like to master even though it isn't as 'cool' as it once was. I've never been one to stick to trends, if it works then I'm happy to use it.

It can be custiomized to you liking, add as many or as little applet to your panel, even have other panels with their own configuration if you like.

Panels can be top or bottom of the screen which works great for me as I prefer panels on the top of the screen.

Perl Panel contains a lots of useful applet out of the box, the ones I rely on are:

  • Desktop pager
  • Notification area
  • Time (my setup is %A %d %b, %H:%M%)
  • Window task-list
  • Openbox menu
  • System monitor
In total there are 34 applets included, I don't have a use for all of them as I have workflow that doesn't change too much. Some of the more notable ones are:
  • Drive manager
  • Launcher
  • CPU temp
  • Battery monitor (this on needs fixing, one I'm hoping to do)
  • Bookmarks
  • Recent files
  • Command line area
  • Task-list
  • Trash
  • WiFi monitor
  • Webcam
  • Shell manager

There is room for improvement though and hopefully I can write the missing applets myself. For example, I'l like to replicate the system monitor of Mate, in my case, I always have CPU, Network activity and Hard disk activity so at a glance I can see what is happening. At the moment, the only monitor close to what I want it CPU monitor, which is the same format as what I'd like so hoping that I can use that module as a basis for networking and hard disks.

One of the issues I had was icon size in the notification area, my clipboard manager (parcellite) icon was about two times too large. All I had to do to fix it was edit the icon, which was in /usr/share/pixmaps/parcellite.png.

I'm hoping others will see the benefit of using Perl Panel because it really is great solution to solve a problem and it does that in a brilliant fashion.