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Customizing Photon

This chapter covers the following topics:

Customizing your workspace

To customize your Photon workspace, you use two facilities:

Setting workspace options

PWM menu button

The Photon Window Manager menu lets you set several options that control how windows behave and appear on your workspace.

To set a workspace option:

  1. Click on the Window Manager menu button (the one with the QNX logo) on the Taskbar to bring up the Workspace menu.


    Position your pointer anywhere on the workspace background and click the right mouse button.

  2. Click on the Options item.

The following dialog appears:

PWM Options dialog

You'll see a toggle button beside each option in the dialog. You enable an option by clicking on its toggle button, and disable it by clicking again. If a button appears pressed in, you know the option is enabled.

At the bottom of the dialog are four buttons:

Apply your changes, but leave the dialog open.
Apply & Save
Apply and save your changes, and close the dialog.
Reset the options in the dialog to their default values.
Close the dialog, discarding any changes that haven't yet been applied.

Here are the options you can set:

Using the Configuration tool

PDM Configuration button

The Configuration tool lets you set up the Desktop Manager to suit your needs. The tool also lets you select backdrops and screen savers for your workspace.

When you click on the Configuration tool, the following dialog appears:

Figure showing Configuration tool dialog box

You'll find the following folders in the Configuration tool dialog:

To change any of the default settings, simply:

  1. Click on the appropriate tab within the dialog.
  2. Enter your changes in the text fields.
  3. Click on Apply.

Note: You can enter shell (sh) commands in the Command field. For example, the following command runs Voyager in compact mode in a shell:

sh -c "SOCK=1 voyager"

Configuration example: changing the backdrop

Here's a simple exercise to show you how to use the Configuration tool. We'll change the workspace backdrop image.

  1. Click on the Configuration tool.
  2. Click on the Backdrops tab.
  3. Try choosing a different backdrop image from the file list. As you select an image file, you'll see a small sample in the box beside the list. Below the box is a group of tiling options that indicate how the selection should appear. To see what the backdrop will look like, click on Apply. Feel free to experiment!
  4. Once you've decided on a backdrop, click on Save & Close. You'll see your new backdrop immediately.

Changing the graphics resolution and color depth

When you start Photon for the first time, you'll be presented with the following dialog to choose display preferences for your workstation (you can also use the Display folder in PDM's Configuration tool, or select Configure Display... from the PWM menu to display this dialog at any time):

Note: The list of available graphics modes displayed in the following dialog will most likely be different from those on your machine.

display preferences

The initial settings are the result of a hardware scan Photon did during the installation. The default selection is a "safe" choice based on this scan; you'll probably want to choose something better. The hardware detection program presents only options that correspond to the kind of graphics card you have. To save these initial settings, choose the Done button.

Changing the graphics resolution

Photon supports the following settings for the color depth, depending on the capabilities of your graphics card:

Number of colors Number of bits
16 million 32
16 million 24
64,000 16
32,000 15
256 8
16 4
monochrome 1

Choose the best one!

The resolution setting that's currently in effect for your type of display is shown by an icon to the left of the setting. The default setting is 256 color with a 640*480 resolution.

The type of graphics card Photon detected is one of a family of cards that are listed in the Driver Family list (top left corner). One card may support different families, such as generic drivers. A driver can be selected using the Driver Family button.

Selecting the refresh rate

The refresh rate determines how often the image on your display is redrawn. Selecting a higher refresh rate can produce a better screen image with less flicker, but it may slow down some graphics cards. The options include:

The horizontal refresh is interlaced (one pass on even scan lines, followed by one pass on odd scan lines). There may be a noticeable flicker at this setting.
A vertical refresh, typically 60 Hz. This setting could apply to a card that supports an interlaced refresh.
A vertical refresh rate that's higher than 60 Hz.
The best refresh rate supported by your graphics card.
Allows the entry of any refresh rate.


Setting the refresh value incorrectly can damage your monitor. Consult your monitor and video card manuals first.

Selecting the color palette

The color palette is used by 256- and 16-color graphics drivers. It provides the base set of colors a graphics driver can use to display images on your screen.

Click the button beside the Palette field to choose from a list of palette files. All palette files are kept in the /usr/photon/palette directory. The default setting is symbolically linked to the photon11.pal file. For a life-like rendering of flesh tones, try portrait.pal.

Launching an application at startup

If you want Photon to automatically launch an application at startup, add the name of the application's executable to your $HOME/.photon/phapps configuration file.

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