Why is the desktop rendered by the file manager?
This applies to KDE, GNOME, and Windows. Why is the desktop (wallpaper, icons, some times the taskbar) shown by the file manager ( we have all heard about the reason Nemo was made, and all have had explorer.exe crash at some point)? It just seems like something the window manager should handle.
Why do I have a Desktop Directory?
I assume you are referring to a directory called "Desktop", or something like that, which you have in your home folder?
There are a few places on a GNU/Linux system where user data is stored:
So, your home directory has to contain the information about your desktop, and if it's there, your File Manager will show it.
But why isn't it a hidden directory, like all those personal config files (.bashrc, .vim, .xmonad, etc)?
Why should it be? Having a visible directory makes stuff, like manually tweaking your icons, a lot easier.
If this really bothers you, and you're using KDE, go to System Settings->About Me->Paths and change the name of your Desktop directory to .Desktop (note the dot in front). Then rename the desktop directory to that and you will never have to see it again.
My best guess would be that all of the functionality required for the desktop (launchers, files in that folder, etc.) is essentially the same as that for a file manager, so it followed to have the file manager handle the desktop, rather than writing a whole new application.
At least this situation exists in DEs where the file manager is already in use for other purposes.
Most WMs do not handle the desktop at all, and would probably need extra code the author is not willing to deal with.
As for why Windows and GNOME use their file managers to render desktop directory contents... well, it's natural to show files in file manager, and adding a wallpaper to it is almost the only thing you need for having desktop.
The taskbar is rendered by filemanager only in Windows AFAICT. In GNOME you have gnome-panel, in KDE you have kicker(KDE3) or plasma(KDE4), in XFCE you have xfce4-panel, etc. .
Of course there are some examples of mixing functionalities, e.g. fvwm95 which gives you taskbar and manages windows, but this is more an exception than a rule.
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