There’s no reason Linux users can’t join the party too, and thanks to Screenlets you can pimp your desktop and make the most of that unused space. Once installed you can then choose from the many in-built widgets or download community-made contributions.
If you’ve already got an awesome theme, sexy dock and a set of icons to die for then Screenlets might just add that last bit of sparkle to your Linux desktop.
What Do They Do?
Screenlets simply enhances your desktop by providing access to useful organisational tools, web clips and system information. It can be anything from a basic clock that sits in the corner to a weather widget or your unread email count.
These are perfect for adding extra functionality to a drab desktop. The customization possibilities are somewhat endless – you can choose where to put them, whether to lock them, display them on multiple desktops or simply have one desktop solely dedicated to these oh-so-useful widgets.
The current Screenlets release has support for widgets written for other platforms as well, including SuperKaramba themes, web widgets and Google Desktop Gadgets.
If you want eye candy and an endless stream of sexy looking widgets on your desktop then Screenlets are probably for you.
Simply open a new Terminal window (Applications, Accessories and then Terminal) and type:
sudo apt-get install screenlets
You will be prompted for your password, and then warned about how much space will be required. Hit “y” then Enter and Screenlets will be installed.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed you can launch the tool and start adding to your desktop by navigating your way to Applications, Accessories and then choosing Screenlets.
The main configuration window is fairly self-explanatory. All your available widgets are visible in the right-hand pane, and any you download and install from now on will appear alongside these. If you want to add a widget simply click it and then click Launch/Add.
There’s a handy search panel in case you end up installing hundreds and need quick access and the Options button will bring up a menu allowing you to specify the default attributes for each new item added to your desktop.
Once you’ve added a Screenlet you can then right click to bring up a menu allowing you to customize its behaviour. By choosing Properties you will be able to scale, add transparency, decide whether to stick it to every desktop (that’s Sticky, by the way) or lock it in place (with Lock) amongst other options.
If your widget has multiple themes (and most of the in-built offerings do) then you can also change the look from this menu.
I’d personally recommend the Terminal widget which embeds a Terminal window directly into your background and Sysmonitor which lets you know exactly what your machine is up to.
Download More Widgets
You’re undoubtedly going to get bored with what’s included, so if you’re after some more widgets here’s a few resources to get you started:
GNOME-Look.org – Screenlets
Widgets designed purely for use with Screenlets.
KDE-Look.org – SuperKaramba Themes
KDE-Look’s dedicated category of SuperKaramba Themes, which are fully compatible with Screenlets.
Google’s official repository for their Desktop Gadgets project.
With these three resources at your disposal you have access to literally thousands of potential widgets. To install a widget simply open Screenlets, click the Install button and select the file you have just downloaded. It should now be available for selection from the pane on the right.
Those of you daring enough to have a go at creating your own will probably benefit from reading this guide at the official wiki.
Do you use Screenlets? Got any favourite widgets floating around your desktop? Let us know all about it in the comments.