The Work\Station Desktop Environment

The Work\Station Desktop Environment is something that I have had in my head for many a year and have wanted to make but have 0 idea where to start with it. I’ll talk about general design of it, as well as how the workflow would work, but if anyone has any ideas of where I could start that’d be great.

So. If you want an idea in your head immediately of what it looks like / how it functions take the PS3 / PSP / PSX’s XRoss Media Bar, make that the start menu with a mode available to keep the bar as the screen (with a switch in the bar menu in a corner), add workspaces and key commands and tiling for apps, add the ability to assign apps to workspaces, a few other features specifically for either “Desktop Use” or “Content Consumption”, and there you go. Probably what you are thinking of is a mess, right? You’re probably right to be honest.

So my general workflow is I like to have a list of icons of the apps I am running in a dock, somewhere, and to be able to hit one key, search apps, docs, and other things like the package manager, and hit enter and keep going. I like minimal use of the mouse if at all possible. I like having compositor effects, some rudimentary tiling, and a drop down terminal for when I want something done quick. The whole DE is designed around this with some big uppers being limited use of the mouse (I have having to click in menu’s when I don’t need to) and easy to read / find whatever it is that you want.

So the general design is the same as the XRoss media bar.

Effectively, you set a key, super as the default, and you have the bar menu pop up. You have your normal app listings (Accessories, games, dev, etc) there, but you can also set up specific folders to be placed there in settings as well as the order of all of this. You CAN use the mouse, but the arrow keys are what is intended. You can also search whatever in this menu (package manager, apps, etc) and in the search you can set a specific filter. In the bottom left corner should be a switch saying WORK | STATION, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

When you go to the normal desktop you get something similar to how Elementary looks, or just the Pantheon (is it pantheon?) desktop in total.

(It is called pantheon lol). I think I would want this written in QT as its own code base and NOT based on gnome. I really hate gnome and its very buggy all by itself. But essentially you have that with your settings in a popup menu at the bottom dock (think OSX app menu before the Rocket Launcher was released) for like wifi and stuff, more complicated settings are in their own window like any settings manager you’d find, there is a drop down terminal, you can set workspaces up and assign apps to new workspaces on their own, there is something to handle window tiling (maybe AwesomeWM integration?), and theming.

Now, back to that WORK | STATION switch in the bar menu. WORK enables the workspaces, while STATION leaves you at the bar menu. Part of the idea with this is say you want to run steam. Well, the steam windows go into the workspaces which you cannot see, so basically steam becomes just a background service. With that, a menu pops up in the bar that is just steam games that you have installed. So with that you launch a game and the game gets its own workspace that it runs in, notifications are turned off if you have them, and you play your game. This could be the same for other “services” like a web browser, and in STATION anything you launch is treated this way. If you are in STATION and launch an app it gets a workspace and that app. You get the terminal and menu’s you would expect, and if you select another app from the dock you get backed out of STATION and put back in WORK with all windows available. Mostly though this is meant for games or movies for that sorta mode.

Add to that, you can dictate how strict or loose WORK and STATION are. Again, WORK lets you dictate that these apps go in these spaces, these apps only go together, etc. In STATION you can make it strict enough that you don’t get a dock or nothing, apps are forced to maximise, etc. The idea is that you can either focus on one thing at a time, or you can switch whenever.

So… What do you think? This is something I have had the design for for a while but I haven’t had a good way to start on it or engage on it. Theres been attempts to re-create xross and moonlightOS’s ideas in linux before, but they were abandoned a long time ago.

Lemme know what you think!



Just brainstorming here, to start experimenting you could run i3 on top of XFCE and script/write specific applications to open in their own workspace.

That won’t help with your super key menu (which is a pretty awesome idea, it’s like a hybrid media server/application launcher).

I don’t know if XFCE is in Qt, but i3 on top of KDE is an option as well, you could throw in a dock (like Latte-Dock) and see if you can get active only applications on there.


Interesting, good thought process I can try a lot of that out I guess. The main point is the bar menu though :stuck_out_tongue:

So I was thinking over this today. Rather than QT I think I would want this done in GTK4 / +. The general idea is solid I think, and as long as its not based on gnome I think it would work fine. I should look more into Lakka and see what all they do with their DE and see what I can do for my idea. I still want to hear more people’s opinion, but the one person saying “Cool idea” is a good start I think. Good code project for me to work on…

I was thinking, for the time being, you might be able to tweak GNOME with an extension (or maybe something more involved) to toy around with the XRoss idea. Just to fiddle around, see what fits, what doesn’t. Just don’t stay on GNOME :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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Alright having some follow up design concepts that I will draw up and post in a while, but for me this sort of DE is intended to be as flexible as possible. So I had a thought while playing DiRT RALLY a few minutes ago.

I want to plug in a controller and have an orb pop up on screen that I can use my c-sticks to select a steam game from, or something out of lutris, then hit X or A (PS3/4 or xbox controller). I want that built in.

Concept art coming tonight or in a few days. Been sick and trying to fight it off.