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The Netbook Newbie's Guide to Linux

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Build a business case: developing custom apps

The structure of simpleui.rc isn't too hard to get to grips with, even if you're not familiar with XML. The body of the file defines two different kinds of objects: simplecat, which is the broad grouping into application types like 'Work', 'Play', and so on; and parcel, which defines how to invoke a particular application, what icon should represent it on the desktop and what name to give the icon. The naming is done in over a dozen different languages, but for our present purposes we'll chauvinistically ignore everything except the line where lang="en".

Eee PC Relauncher script

Entering the Relauncher script in nano

Notice the placing of the angle brackets, and in particular the fact that each parcel definition is closed with a </parcel> flag.

One of the things I use a netbook for is movie script writing. No, you don't need a $500 software application to do this right. There's a wonderful free website called Zhura.com I use all the time, so I want to make it directly accessible from my Eee PC Easy Desktop.

'Copy and paste' was invented for exercises like this. So I pick an existing parcel definition that's close to what I need - iGoogle will do - copy the whole thing from <parcel... down to and including the </parcel> closer, and paste that in again at the end of the file just before the </simpleui> which signs off the whole Simple UI definition.

Not So Simple

The simpleui.rc file in /opt/Xandros/share/AsusLauncher is a "master configuration file". Normally, you'd leave it alone, instead editing a local copy of the file kept elsewhere - typically in a hidden directory under the home directory. A well-behaved application would know to look there first, only referring to the master configuration file if it couldn't find the user copy.

Unfortunately, Asus has been moving the location of this local copy around during recent software updates, so to keep things simple I'm sticking with the master file.

It's for the sake of simplicity, too, that I'm making these changes to the AsusLauncher by hand, rather than availing myself of the ready-made software solutions that Eee PC fans have cooked up. I'm certainly not knocking these useful contributions, but they tend to conceal rather than reveal the underlying principles. Once you understand these principles, by all means go ahead with offerings like these if you think they'll help.

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