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Build a business case: developing custom apps

For another demonstration of the connection in Linux between the graphical front end and the underlying text files, let's take a closer look at the Easy Mode interface of the Asus Eee PC. The icons it uses, the way they're grouped, and the applications they evoke, are all defined in a single text file, /opt/xandros/share/AsusLauncher/simpleui.rc. AsusLauncher is the name of the application that creates Easy Mode.

Eee PC Easy Mode

AsusLauncher in action

Before we mess with this file, we'll take the precaution of making a back-up. Open a terminal, switch to the /opt/xandros/share/AsusLauncher directory and type:

sudo cp simpleui.rc simpleui.rc.bak

Now we're ready to edit the file (see Box: Not So Simple). Xandros offers several editors, but as this is an XML file it would be smart to use the supplied editor, called Kwrite, as this has a fancy feature that understands XML structures and uses different colours to display the different XML elements.

While still in the the /opt/xandros/share/AsusLauncher directory type:

sudo kwrite simpleui.rc

There's a very handy crib about all this on the Eee User Wiki, including a suggestion for adding an appropriate icon to the Easy Mode if you're going to do a lot of editing to the configuration file. So my first edit was to add the following stanza:

<parcel simplecat="Favorites" extraargs="/usr/bin/sudo /usr/bin/kwrite  /opt/xandros/share/AsusLauncher/simpleui.rc"

icon="documents_norm.png"

selected_icon="documents_hi.png">

<name lang="en">Menu Edit</name>

</parcel>

This makes the simpleui.rc file very easy to get at, but changes aren't reflected until you restart AsusLauncher. I knocked off a quick and dirty script to do this, which needs to be run with root privileges:

#!/bin/sh
killall AsusLauncher
/opt/xandros/bin/AsusLauncher &

You'll need to save this as a plain text file - I simply called it relauncher - and then make it executable with a command like this:

chmod a+x relauncher

chmod is the Unix utility for "changing the mode", and "a+x" means "make this file executable for everyone on the system".

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