The XDroplets Collection consists of a bunch of launchers,
or "XDroplets", that better integrate X11 programs with
the Mac OS X environment. XDroplets provide the following features:
X11 programs can be launched via the Finder or Dock
can be opened in X11 programs via double-clicking or drag and drop
URLs can be forwarded from Mac
apps to X11 programs
X11 automatically gets launched if it is not already open
Given the extensive range of X11 programs, this
set of launchers is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover some
of the most common
programs for standard X11, KDE, and Gnome distributions. Feel free to
contact me if I am missing a launcher for an important program, or to
pass along your feedback and thoughts.
Place the individual launchers
found in the XDroplets Collection folder anywhere you wish. Toss out
the ones you don't need. For a menu that loosely resembles a KDE or
Gnome style launcher menu, drag the KDE-Qt and Gnome-Gtk folders to
the Dock, and control-click (or right-click) to bring up the menu.
Optionally run the XDroplets Setup script to customize the behaviour
of XDroplets, and the XDroplets Factory script to generate your own
XDroplets Setup Script
If you are using a standard installation of the Apple
X11 environment, the XDroplet launchers should work right away. If you
prefer to further modify the behaviour of XDroplets, run the XDroplets
X11 Environment: This setting tells XDroplets which
X11 environment to use. Available choices are Apple X11, XDarwin, and
OroborOSX. Note to OroborOSX users: Please rename the OroborOSX application
from 'OroborOSX-vx.x.x' to 'OroborOSX'. See also Known
Administrator Password Mode: If enabled, this setting
prompts for an administrator password when an XDroplet is launching
a document for which you have insufficient viewing or editing privileges.
Stay Open: If enabled, this setting forces an XDroplet launcher to
remain running until the program it launched quits. Although the
XDroplet is visible as a running application in the Dock during this
time, you will not be able to switch to or quit the program via the
Dock icon. This setting is currently "experimental".
You can choose to apply your settings to all users on
your Mac (in case you intend to install XDroplets for multiple users),
the current user, or both (meaning preferences will be written to both
/Library/Preferences and ~/Library/Preferences).
Use this script to generate your own custom XDroplets.
You will be able to specify the following information:
line program name: This can be the program name alone (provided the
program can be located by your $PATH setting), or it can be the full
path to the program. If there are spaces in the name or path, enclose
the entire phrase with double-quotation marks or prepend each space
with a backslash (\). In other words, specify the name or path exactly
how you would type it into the terminal in order to launch the program.
arguments (leave empty if you don't require arguments)
directory, ie. the directory from where the program will be launched.
This is helpful, for example, if you want the program's open dialog
boxes to start in a specified directory. Use the tilde sign '~' to
set the working directory to your home directory.
variables (leave empty if you don't require environment variables).
association: Click "Yes" if you wish to associate specific
types of documents with the launcher.
file extensions: List the program's supported
MIME types: List the program's supported MIME
types. Click Auto Fill to automatically generate a list of MIME
types based on the file extensions you entered previously.
classification: Indicate whether the program
is best classified as a viewer or editor. A viewer program is
only able to open documents for viewing, while an editor program
is able to edit and save documents as well.
file arguments: List any arguments to pass to
the program when files are being launched.
URL association: Click "Yes" if
you wish to associate specific URL types with the launcher.
URL types: List the program's supported URL types.
URL arguments: List any arguments to pass to
the program when a URL is being launched.
The following examples demonstrate how you might set up
XDroplet launchers for various programs:
Example 1: XEdit
Xedit is a plain text editor included with
X11 installations. To create a plain vanilla xedit launcher, launch
XDroplets Factory and simply supply the name of the name of the
program when the first dialog appears:
X11 Program: xedit
Use default settings for the remaining
dialogs and save the launcher. You will now be able to launch xedit
by double-clicking your new XDroplet. Because we did not set up
document associations, any documents that you create and save within
xedit will appear as generic documents in the Finder. To launch
documents in xedit, simply drag the documents onto the Xedit icon.
Example 2: Nedit
Nedit is a popular code editor that can
be installed via Fink or MacPorts. Suppose you want to create an
Nedit launcher and make it the default application in which to
open all your C and C++ documents. Because you store all your code
files in the Documents folder in your home directory, you'd also
like nedit to start in your Documents directory whenever you choose
the Open or Save menu item. Suppose you also want to customize
the appearance such that the editor displays a white background
and 60 rows and 120 columns of text:
X11 Program: nedit
Arguments: -background white -rows 60 -columns 120
Working Directory: ~/Documents
Environment variable: <leave empty>
Associate documents: Yes
File extensions: c cpp h hpp
MIME types: <click Auto Fill>
Use default settings
for the remaining dialogs and save the launcher. Now run Nedit
(it should launch with a large, white, new window), type some
text into a new file, and bring up the save dialog by choosing
File > Save... The
dialog should already be in your Documents folder, where you can
save your file with a .cpp extension. Quit nedit, open a new Finder
window, and locate your new file. Try double-clicking it to see
if it opens in Nedit. If it doesn't, bring up the Info window for
the file (select the file and choose File > Get Info), and in
the "Open with" section, select Nedit from the pull down
menu. While you're at it, click "Change All..."
to associate all your .cpp files with Nedit. You can now perform
similar steps to associate your .c, .h, and .hpp files with Nedit.
Example 3: Konqueror
Konqueror is a web browser for the KDE
platform, and can be installed via Fink or MacPorts. Suppose you
want to make Konqueror the default web browser on your Mac:
Use default settings for the remaining dialogs and save the launcher.
Try launching Konqueror to make sure it works. Launch Safari, and
from the Preferences dialog, choose Konqueror in the default web
browser dropdown menu. Now, whenever you click on a web link in
another Mac application (eg. Mail), the link will launch in Konqueror.
Example 4: Pico (via xterm)
Pico is a text editor that runs within
a terminal window. As a result, we must explicitly launch a terminal
program and launch pico within the shell. XTerm is a popular X11
terminal program, and it supports passing a program name as an
argument using the -e flag. We can now construct our XDroplet as
X11 Program: xterm
Arguments: -e pico
In this way, XDroplets can work as launchers
for simple shell programs as well as GUI programs.
When running an XDroplet, it bounces in the
dock and disappears. What's wrong?
This is default behaviour. The launcher's job is simply
to invoke the X11 program and pass along any files or folders you may
have dragged and dropped. The launcher then quits, and the launched
X11 program should appear shortly thereafter. If you prefer to keep
the XDroplet running until the program quits, you can change
this setting in XDroplets Setup.
If the X11 program does NOT appear, chances are it exited
with an error (see Known Issues).
Why do some XDroplet icons appear pixelated?
Not all icons provided by the
SVG Crystal, Gnome, and KDE icon collections are available at a crisp
128 x 128 resolution, much less a 512 x 512 Leopard-compatible resolution.
As these icon collections are further developed and their resolution
is increased, expect the XDroplet launcher icons to be updated as
well. Meanwhile, feel free to customize the XDroplets with your own
high-res icons. Icon files are found within the XDroplets application
bundles and can be edited with Icon Composer (requires installation
of Apple's development tools).
Can I change the appearance of my X11 applications
so that they better match the Aqua look 'n feel?
Although this question doesn't directly pertain to XDroplets,
it certainly pertains to the spirit of better integrating X11 apps
with Mac OS X and the Aqua interface. KDE and Gnome apps are very themeable
and a number of Aqua-like themes (eg. Glossy
P, Baghira) exist
on the web. Some good places to search for themes are:
Gnome (GTK) themes can be installed via Gnome Control
Panels, and KDE (Qt) themes can be installed via KControl. Consult
the websites for much more comprehensive information on installing
The following problems will hopefully be corrected in
users only) X11 windows may not respond to mouse clicks and keystrokes
if an XDroplet attempts to automatically launch OroborOSX. If you encounter
this problem, launch OroborOSX manually before using an XDroplet.
do not display an error message if a program fails to launch properly
(ie. returns an error code).
XDroplet launchers may not always
quit properly when "XDroplets
Stay Open" setting is enabled.
To Do List
Items to work on for future versions of XDroplets:
associate documents with XDroplets via UTIs (uniform
update to Leopard-size icons (512x512)
rewrite XDroplets Factory and XDroplets Setup with
a proper user interface
rewrite XDroplets in Applescript Studio for more advanced
Each XDroplet is an Applescript droplet application containing
bundled bash scripts. The Applescript source code can be viewed by opening
the droplet in Script Editor, and the bash script code can be viewed
in any text editor. The Applescript invokes the bash script 'launcher.sh'
inside the application bundle. If the droplet received any files or URLs,
these are passed along as arguments to the launcher script. (If Administrator
Password Mode is enabled, file permissions are also queried by the bash
script 'privileges.sh', and an administrator password will be requested
from the user if the permissions are insufficient.) The launcher then
calls the X11 program, along with customized arguments and a list of
file paths and URLs. If an X11 environment is not running, the bash script
launches the X11 application and waits for the display to be registered
in /tmp/.X11-unix before calling the X11 program. If a problem arises,
the launcher script generates various error codes and messages which
the Applescript intercepts.
The XDroplets Setup script generates a preferences file in
order to notify XDroplets about the X11 environment and administrator
password mode. If the preferences file does not exist, XDroplets default
to Apple's X11 environment and a disabled administrator password mode.
Feel free to contact me to pass along your feedback and thoughts.
Any improvements to the code for future XDroplet releases are welcome!
This project will remain open source and free for distribution.
1.1 (October 14, 2007)
XDroplet launchers may now be associated with particular
types of documents and URLs.
Added administrator password mode to query file permissions
and request an administrator password if required for viewing or editing
Added option for XDroplets to remain running until
the program they launched quits.
Environment variables entered in XDroplets Factory
should now work properly.
Updated icons for existing launchers and added many
Licensed XDroplets under GNU GPL v2.
1.0.2 (September 26, 2006)
Converted XDroplets scripts to Universal binary
(thanks Adam Scheblein).
XDroplets now search for binaries and libraries
in MacPorts (formerly DarwinPorts) paths and default system paths (eg.
1.0.1 (January 10, 2006)
XDroplets Factory will now properly handle program names/paths containing
XDroplets Setup now supports preferences for current user and all
1.0 (March 23, 2005)
XDroplets Factory can now produce XDroplets that
run as root user
Fixed a bug that prevented XDroplets from running
if your username is longer than eight characters
Improved error handling
1.0b2 (February 25, 2005)
Launchers now properly set the X11 display variable for every user
XDroplets Factory allows specification of working
directory and environment variables
XDroplets Setup no longer requires you to specify your window manager