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I am wondering if there is a way to have different icons on the desktop of each virtual desktop. For example, my work desktop has OpenOffice icons, my entertainment desktop sports kaffiene and Supertux icons, etc.
I assume you are using kde. I know of no way to do this using gui configuration tools and I suspect it is not possible without some serious hacking and maybe not even then. The closest I've seen in kde's Control Center is the ability to set different wallpapers on each desktop in Appearance & Themes > Background.
I, too, think this isn't possible, although I would love to be wrong. I think I know why this is true: The icons & the programs they represent are files or links in the folder ~/Desktop. The background pictures (aka wallpapers) OTOH, are configuration settings found in ~/.kde/share/config/kdesktoprc (at least on my MEPIS 6.0/KDE 3.5.3 machine).
I suspect that to have each desktop be different to this extent, each would have to have its own sub-directory. Something like this:
The parent "Desktop" could hold common files, including programs, links, & "folders" -- all displayed as icons. Then the child directories could link back to their parent, omitting some links when desired. A newly created desktop [c|w|sh]ould be automatically populated w/ links to all the items in the parent.
For compatibility, it might be better to do it like this:
Different wallpapers are fancy - but worthless in terms of usability.
If someone takes the decision to use different desktops for different tasks, the first idea would be to have different (sub)sets of icons on them!
Whether they are represented by filtering the whole set of (~/Desktop) or by using subfolders for any $desktop>0 would be secondary.
The first alternative, a filter by properties, however, should be more compatible and consistent, as you would have options analogous to those of window placement (visible on all desktops - visible only on desktop x).
Does anybody know whether such a feature is planned in KDE or, even better, how to realize that with existing means?
I think this capability would be useful, and very easy to build into KDE. To add it as an add-on later or a hack would be a real PITA.
It would take one new line in the .desktop file that defines the icon, and one subroutine in KDE. I would bet I could make it work in just a couple of hours if I was familiar enough with the KDE source. Not having that familiarity, it would take me some days while I figured out just where to put the call. Then, of course, the KDE control center would have to be updated. That would be the hard part.
It's a little different. You still have your desktops (4 in my case), which are used in the traditional sense.
But on top of that you can add "activities", additional and independent workspaces. There you can add different wallpapers, folders, etc.
Icons directly on the desktop is a little bit different for now.
KDE4 has a plasmoid called folderview. you can point this plasmoid to whereever you want.
So say you have 2 folders called "Desktop1" and "Desktop2" with icons in it. Now you can have one Activity with a folderview pointing to "Desktop1" and another Activity pointing to "Desktop2".
Here is a nice video showing the use: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=EhODrJkoidA
And if you want to see the folderview in action: http://picasaweb.google.com/ingomalchow/KDE4
Just to give you an idea.