The CDE Desktop


A typical desktop

CDEis a window manager, a program that governs the display of windows on your screen. The example shown above illustrates some of theitems tha might typically be found on the desktop. As many copies of a program or window can be present on the desktop as you wish. Windows can be closed by pressing MENU (right button) on the header bar and then choosing Close from the Window menu. Icons can be opened to windows by double clicking SELECT (left button) on the icon.

One significant difference to note between CDE and MS-Windows is that when icons appear on the CDE desktop, they represent an application that is either running or idle. In MS-Windows, icons can represent either a running application, or simply serve as a placeholder to indicate that that application is available on the system. Thus, although it is possible to clutter your desktop with icons, if you do so, you are consuming either memory or swap space.

Customizing your desktop

The Style Manager menu illustrates the properties of your workspace that can be customized. This menu lets you change many of the attributes of your workspace, including such things as colors of windows and fonts used, and how the mouse and keyboard work. 

The Style Manager lets you customize your CDE session. You can start the Style Manager by choosing 'Desktop --> Style Manager' from the Workspace menu, or clicking on the Desktop Control icon in the Front panel:

desktop controls icon

which brings up the Desktop Controls window.

Desktop Controls

Click on any of the "Style Manager" icons to bring up the Style Manager.

Suggested desktop properties
To help you get started, here are suggestions for making CDE easiest to use. As you get more proficient with CDE, you can experiment with different settings until you are satisfied with how your desktop looks and functions.

Color menu
In some X-Windows implementations, network bandwidth is reduced by limiting the number of colors available. The trade off is that the quality of color images is also compromised. For example, some X-terminals only use 8-bits per pixel, so that only 256 colors are available. In 16-bit color, over 65,000  colors are available.

On 8-bit displays, colors can get used up, so that when you move into a window, it displays correctly, but other windows may change their color until you leave that window.  The Color menu allows you to choose various settings that minimize this so-called color flashing. In the Color menu, click on 'Number of Colors..." and choose "More colors for applications". 
Color Menu

Backdrop menu

If you are routinely using VNC to connect to your Unix account, you should be aware that all changes to the screen must be sent across the network as graphics. Consequently, if your backdrop is textured (patterned) it will have to be redrawn each time you move a window across the desktop, resulting in slower performance. Therefore, if you use VNC, your backdrop should be solid. The only choices that give you a solid background are "Background", "Foreground", "Gray", "GrayDk", and "GrayLt". You can preview the backdrop in the backdrop window by clicking on a backdrop name. After you are satisfied with your choice, click "OK".

Backdrop Menu



Make sure that Button 2 on the mouse is set to 'Adjust'. This button can then be used to complete long selections which may span many pages of text or graphics. The 'Transfer' setting causes the 2nd mouse button to copy selected text to the current cursor location. When used in Transfer mode, accidental clicking of this button can cause unintended pasting of text into documents.
Mouse Settings

Screen Menu

CDE has a choice of screensavers. However, these take up CPU time on the system, in addition to generating more network traffic. The terminal, thin client or PC that you are using probably has its own screen save. Therefore, it is best to deactivate the CDE screensaver.
Screen Menu

Window menu 

The Window menu governs the 'focus' of the screen, ie. where the keyboard and mouse take effect. By default, the 'active' window is chosen by clicking on a window. This will also bring that window to the front. However, the extra clicking required with these default settings can get tedious.

The best starting choices are to select "Point in Window To Make Active" and DE-select "Raise Window When Made Active".  The combination of these two settings is usually the most convenient, and certainly the least frustrating for new users.


Startup menu

The windows and icons that first appear when you login can be specified by you. Simply open the windows you wish to appear on your desktop, and move them where they should appear. Close any windows that should be iconized, and move the icons where they belong. To make the corrent desktop come up every time you log in, choose 'Startup' from the Style Manager, and then choose 'Set Home Session'.

(Note: You'll probably notice that in order to get the Startup menu, you must also have the Style Manager on the screen.  However, when you click the "Set Home Session", these two windows will be ignored, and will not appear on your screen when you log in, which is reasonable, since most of the time you don't want them on the screen.)

It is probably best to keep your startup screen fairly simple. You can always open windows when you need them, but it's annoying to have to close windows every time you login.

Even though you will probably use a web browser frequently, it is probably best to start up Netscape after you log in, rather than having it as part of your default desktop.

Startup Menu