Rox Rocks

Rox (rox-filer) is a drag-and-drop file manager in the RISCOS tradition. Its usefulness, though, goes far beyond basic file management. It’s highly configurable and adaptable to just about whatever the user could want it to do.

The rox.dsl package available in the DSL repository works well as is. It’s already configured with file associations that work with DSL’s base applications. There are a few things I think make it very useful.

First, it can be used as a pinboard. A pinboard is an instance where rox icons are used on the desktop. The rox pinboard is much more flexible than using xtdesk, the program that DSL uses for its desktop icons, because rox allows drag-and-drop between folder and application icons in addition to launching applications. Just drag the icon for whatever executable you want onto the desktop; right-click to change the icon if you don’t want the default for executables. Rox also doesn’t require setting coordinates — just put your icons where you want them on your desktop and move them around until you’re happy.

Some applications allow drag-and-drop with Rox. For example, you can drag a sound file (MP3 or ogg) from Rox filer onto XMMS and it will play that file; set up an icon for XMMS on your pinboard and drag the file onto the XMMS icon and it will launch XMMS; drag the file onto the XMMS playlist and that song is added wherever you place it; and rox (filer) is already set up with file associations so you can click on the sound file itself and start XMMS. Want to change file associations? Just right click and change the run action. It’s pretty easy.

The pinboard can also be used for mounting and umounting devices. The image shows the default blue directory icons with rox’ mount/umount marks. Green is mounted, white is unmounted. You can change the icons to whatever you want. These mount marks are separate from the icons, so any mountable file (UCI) or device will show you if it’s mounted or not regardless of which icon you choose to use — you don’t need two icons or a script to change them. Since devices are given mount points via hotplug, it’s pretty easy to set up these icons on the desktop. Open rox-filer to /mnt and drag out the devices you want onto the desktop. My pendrive went in first, so it was set at sda1, then my mp3player was set at sdb1. I right clicked on the icons on the desktop and edited their names to reflect what they are. Mounting and unmounting is a matter of right clicking and selecting those options; when mounted, the directory opens up for browsing. For now, my icons are associated with unique devices. (That would change, though, upon reboot if the hotplug order changed. Kernel 2.4 hotplug mount points are set sequentially, not uniquely.)

some mounts

The pinboard is started with a –p option from a shell or by creating a menu entry:

rox –p=pinboardname

It’s turned off by leaving off the pinboard name after the equal sign (i.e., rox –p=). If you like icons but don’t want to flood your desktop with them, you can set up as many pinboards as you want and switch between them. One for internet, one for graphics, one for word processing and office applications, one for games, etc., however you choose to set them up and categorize them. The choice is yours.

Second, rox can be used for most file management tasks. It makes use of all three buttons. Drag a file from one folder to another with the middle (scroll) button (or both buttons on a two-button mouse) and you’re asked if you want to move or copy that file; this can be set in the options to automatically move on middle button drag. The right-click menu has plenty of options, including setting or changing application-filetype associations.

Third, rox can show thumbnails. Have a lot of images in a directory with similar or ambiguous names? Enable thumbnails and browse them in the folder without opening every one of them. Thumbnails can be enabled by default (options) or on the fly.

This only touches on the basics of what I’ve done with rox. Hopefully you’ll find many more uses yourself.

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