KDE 4, Windows, and Mac OS all have some sort of desktop widgets. Your Ubuntu desktop can also, using Screenlets. This post will guide you through installing and using Screenlets on Ubuntu 7.10 and 8.04.
Compiz’s Widget Layer plugin can be used with Screenlets to achieve an effect similar to the dashboard in Mac OS X. Your Screenlets will only be visible by activating a view that dims the desktop and displays the Screenlets on top of everything else.
In the Appearance Preferences dialog (System->Preferences->Appearance), open the Visual Effects tab and switch to the Custom effects level. If this option is not available, you need to install CompizConfig Settings Manager (CCSM) first:
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
Now, open CCSM by clicking the Preferences button. Find the Widget Layer plugin and select the box to turn it on.
For all the Screenlets you want on the Widget Layer, open their right-click menus and select Window->Widget. The Screenlet will disappear from your desktop. Press the default Widget Layer key, F9, to dim the desktop and display your widgets.
You can keep up-to-date with the latest version of Screenlets by installing it through the repository.
Open your sources.list file to add the repository:
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
Add this line to the end of the file (for Ubuntu 7.10):
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/gilir/ubuntu gutsy main universe
Add this line to the end of the file (for Ubuntu 8.04):
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/gilir/ubuntu hardy main universe
Save and close the text editor. Run this command to update apt:
sudo apt-get update
Install the Screenlets package:
sudo apt-get install screenlets
The package python-feedparser may also be required if it is not already installed:
sudo apt-get install python-feedparser
If starting the Screenlets Manager nags you that Gtkmozembed needs to be installed, some Screenlets may not work. Run this command to fix it:
sudo apt-get install python-gnome2-extras