In Part 1 of this 2-part article, we discussed gDesklets, an older (but still useful) program for placing gadgets, or widgets, on your Ubuntu Linux desktop. While gDesklets isn’t quite as visually appealing as Screenlets (it’s fairly obvious that it’s an older program), gDesklets certainly has its uses. If you’re the type of person who simply wants a clock or calendar on the Desktop, then it’s a nice option.
Still, Screenlets has its share of advantages as well. In this article, we’ll discuss some of them.
First, let’s get Screenlets installed. Go ahead and open up your Terminal.
Now type sudo apt-get install screenlets screenlets-pack-all which will install not only the Screenlets application, but the full complement of individual screenlets (the mini-applications that sit on your Desktop, such as a clock, calendar, calculator, email checker, etc.).
Unlike gDesklets, which only required the single application be installed, installing Screenlets and all its gadgets requires upwards of 70 MB of hard drive space. This isn’t a huge installation by any means, but it’s certainly not tiny.
Once installed, just as with gDesklets, you can find Screenlets in the Dash. Open the Dash by hitting the Windows key or the Ubuntu icon at the top of the Unity Dock, and start typing screenlets until you see it appear, then either click it or (once it’s in the upper-left corner), click the Enter key.
You should now see the Screenlets Manager.
From here, you can browse through the more than 100 different available screenlets, until you find the one (or ones) you want to use. To use them, simply double-click the screenlet listing; after a bit, it should appear on your desktop.
Note: you may need to move the Screenlets Manager out of the way in order to see the screenlet you just launched; sometimes they appear directly beneath it.
What kinds of screenlets are available? The same you’d seen in gDesklets, and more. There are calculator screenlets, as well as email checkers and wireless strength screenlets.
You can also use screenlets to keep track of time and events.
There are screenlets that tell you info about your computer, such as what your CPU is doing, and how much battery life your laptop has.
There is even a Folder View screenlet, similar to what KDE offers, that gives you a “window” into a particular folder, and the documents it contains.
One other nice feature (beyond all the available screenlets offered initally), is the ability Screenlets has to convert web widgets. This is definitely not always foolproof, but thanks to the ability embed the widget using Gtkmozembed, gadgets such as offered in the Google Gadgets gallery may often be used.
There is also a panel menu, from which you can access the Screenlet Manager, install new screenlets, as well as launch new screenlets, plus restart or quit currently running ones.
As mentioned earlier, both Screenlets and the previously-covered gDesklets have their good points. Screenlets offers more than 100 gadgets out-of-the-box (if you’ve installed the proper packages), while gDesklets offers four. On the other hand, gDesklets takes up a lot less hard drive spaced compared to Screenlets. In the end, of course, all that matters is finding a gadget you like. If the default four in gDesklets are what you need, the sheer volume offered by Screenlets won’t matter. Conversely, if there is one gadget offered by Screenlets that you have to have, needing to install extra libraries won’t be a big deal.