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Cloudy Backgrounds for GNOME -Just 4 Fun ;)

This is for the people who want unlimited wallpapers without save/restore backups in each new installation. This is for the people who want some animation in their backgrounds. This is for the people who want interactive backgrounds and not just static images. This is for the network admins who recognize action-reaction as client-server law ;)

The idea is simple. Let’s add some HTML5 for rendering GNOME’s background. The way to do this is to add a new box in Shell’s background container and load WebKit. I asked Jasper (gShell dev) if we could load WebKit in a Clutter Actor (that would make it pretty easy), but the answer was no.

So I did something very stupid, just for fun. I made a new GnomeSession that, when it starts, runs a Node server and launches a frameless WebKit window. Then we tell Window Manager to keep that window full screen and always on the bottom, and we are almost done.

The problem now is that when we enter in Overview Mode, Shell reveals our background as a thumbnail. To prevent this, we tell Shell to hide this particular actor. The window is actually there, but we can’t see it.

I run Server and Client on the same machine, but there’s no difference if I run it remotely. The really cool thing is that our backgrounds actually “runs” online, but we have full access to our system with HTML5. This means we can do things like running an HTML file manager in our online backgroud.

I tried nearly 20 times to make a screencast, but either Shell was crashing or 3JS animations were freezing the CPU. It doesn’t really matter… this is nothing but an idea.  ;)

Happy new year!

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  • Patrizio Bruno

    ms called this “Active desktop” some decades ago ;)

    • alex285

      Not exactly :)
      That’s like running JoliCloud from online, but all the processes like file managing takes place on your desktop and not on the server.

      • Patrizio Bruno

        What I see is a html render engine as background. It can run anything webkit supports, just like “Active desktop” could run anything IE4-6 supported. The added value here is Node.js, but even AD could connect to a local webserver. The main reason AD failed was the heavyness of such a background and the need for a constant connection, not easy at that time. Maybe nowadays such an idea could be successful.

  • Richard Ayotte

    See Active Desktop

    Active Desktop was a feature of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0’s optional Windows Desktop Update that allows the user to add HTML content to the desktop, along with some other features.

    Brings back memories from 1995.

    It was even using push technology, something that Node is good at.

    The introduction of the Active Desktop marked Microsoft’s attempt to capitalize on the short-lived push technology trend led by PointCast. Active Desktop placed a number of “channels” on the user’s computer desktop that provided continually-updated information, such as news headlines and stock quotes, without requiring the user to open a Web browser.

    Who knows, maybe it’ll work now that I have literally 1024 times more RAM! My first Win95 box had 16MB compared to my current 16GB.

  • Rho

    Can I try this? I mean, install it? How should I? Like it. :)

    • alex285

      Nop sorry. It’s hardcoded. If I could make an extension I could give it. Actually I don’t have it anymore, didn’t worth anything :/

      • Rho