“Killing the Cashew” done right.

Plasma Desktop's Toolbox
Plasma Desktop’s Toolbox
One of the important design cornerstones of Plasma is that we want to reduce the amount of “hidden features” as much as possible. We do not want to have to rely on the user knowing where to right-click in case she wants to find a certain, desktop-related option, say adding widgets, opening the desktop settings dialog, the activity switcher, etc.. For this, Plasma 4.0 introduced the toolbox, a small icon that when clicked opens a small dialog with actions related to the desktop. To many users, this is an important lifeline when they’re looking for a specific option.

In Plasma 4.x, there was a Plasmoid, provided by a third party, that used a pretty gross hack to remove the toolbox (which was depicted as the old Plasma logo, resembling a cashew a bit). We did not support this officially, but if people are deliberately risking to break their desktop, who are we to complain. They get to keep both pieces.

During the migration to QML (which begun during Plasma 4.x times), one of the parts I had been porting to QtQuick was this toolbox. Like so many other components in Plasma, this is actually a small plugin. That means it’s easy to replace the toolbox with something else. This feature has not really been documented as its more or less an internal thing, and we didn’t want to rob users of this important lifeline.

Some users want to reduce clutter on their desktop as much as possible, however. Since the options offered in the toolbox are also accessible elsewhere (if you know to find them). Replacing the toolbox is actually pretty easy. You can put a unicorn dancing on a rainbow around your desktop there, but you can also replace it with just an empty object, which means that you’re effectively hiding the toolbox.

For users who would rather like their toolbox to be gone, I’ve prepared a small package that overrides the installed toolbox with an empty one. Hiding the toolbox is as easy as installing this minimal package, which means the toolbox doesn’t get shown, or even get loaded.

I would not recommend doing this, especially not as default, but at the same time, I don’t want to limit what people do with their Plasma do what we as developers exactly envision, so there you go.

Download this file, then install it as follows:

plasmapkg2 -t package -i emptytoolbox.plasmoid

Now restart the Plasma Shell (either by stopping the plasmashell process, or by logging out and in again), and your toolbox should be gone.

If you want it back, run

plasmapkg2 -t package -r org.kde.desktoptoolbox

Then restart Plasma and it’s back again.

Even more than just removing the toolbox, I’d like to invite and encourage everybody to come up with nice, crazy and beautiful ideas how to display and interact with the toolbox. The toolbox being a QtQuick Plasmoid package, it’s easy to change and to share with others.

28 thoughts on ““Killing the Cashew” done right.

  1. How about turning that box into a plain plasmoid which can be moved/deleted/re-added just like any other plasmoid?

  2. I cannot recall such a thing as Plasma 4.x

    Has there been a hidden Development version of Plasma somewhere around, or are you infact referring to something else?

    1. I perosnally never use it. And im dont consider myself hater. And saying that you think most people use it is just ignorant without any poll to back it up. id bet you if you did a poll on this matter ( and im not talking here about readers of planetkde ) You would see it to. Its my humble opinion.

    2. Right, i use it too all the time. In fact, i think i get a much less clutter desktop by just using this toolbox and whitout any right click menu, very useful tool.
      Thank you.

    3. Well, I never used it and I don’t see any use in the toolbox at all, which I’d guess is because I do have different usage patterns on my desktop than you guys.

      But I just don’t care if it’s there or not, 99 % of the time there is a window over it anyawy :p

    4. I also rarely have a need to use it. To say “I think most people do, it’s just that the haters are — as usual — the vocal ones.” is unfounded statement. As been in many different forum users that do indeed not use it find it a annoyance. And perceive that the non-users numbers are much larger than one would expect.

      Also forcing a visual element on the desktop I would deem against the very credo of KDE philosophy of having choices and options in what is put on your desktop?


    5. To me, cashew just not cashew, it is the identity of Plasma Desktop and it should be there.

  3. I love Plasma, i use it daily on mi PCs. I have used it since kde 3 days.

    Am not a hater, said that, I never use the cashew, all its options are on the panel or in contextual menus if i want to use them (you have to know where they are, its true).

    I am not against chasew but I don like see it on my desktop because it’s an element that i don’t use.

    I can understand there are people that like it and use it, but maybe create an user advanced option in desktop preferences to hide it could be a good idea for people like me. It’s only a suggestion, I will continue ignoring chasew or hiding it when possible.

  4. I agree with your solution.
    I like the toolbox tool and I think the new icon (burger) will help for the acceptance.
    But the freedom to customize it’s desktop is king in KDE. Thanks for it.

  5. Perhaps you could upload this on kde-look and allow us to easily install it without typing commands?

  6. Nice, thanks!

    If like you say, it’s considered an integral part of the desktop: Has there been any surveys/user studies to find out how many people actually make use of it? You say that the “opponents” of it are vocal, but perhaps it’s just that they are many, and then it naturally follows that some of them are vocal? Since it has such a prominent place right on the desktop, it would be interesting to know how many people use it, and what they use it for.

    I don’t use it, but I certainly don’t hate it :) (that would be ridiculous). Like a previous commenter said, most of the time the desktop is hidden by stuff anyway, so I can’t even get to it.

    1. Unscientifically, yes. Bottom line is that when I asked around, many people answer that they either use it or don’t care. It’s really just a few people out of the large pool of Internet commenters that are very vocal about it. Other than that, we have no indication that it forms a real problem, and those that want to get rid of it usually fail to understand its purpose, fail give substantial support for their arguments, instead the underlying reasoning is ignored, and no solutions to the problems that the toolbox addresses being offered. We’d be doing the majority of our users a disservice if we listened to these people.

      I’ve yet to see any surveys / user studies that indicate that the toolbox causes substantial problems for anyone. It seems to be a matter of taste, which also explains why people are so vocal, and often abusive about it. The group that doesn’t like it and is willing to pitch in is surprisingly low, almost zero.

      1. I never understood why is so difficult to:
        – have it ON by default
        – OFF if I want with an OPTION
        As said, also in my opinion is not the kde way to do things. I don’t want to offend but I found “it’s considered an integral part of the desktop” simply ridiculous.

  7. Orrr you could just make it an option in the first place and not show, like, AT ALL. How hard can that be?

  8. Hi Sebas,

    Ever since i’ve been using plasma 5 (for about two weeks now, yeah i intentionally skipped the first two releases) i’ve only opened the toolbox to see how it looks in plasma 5. All the options provided in the toolbox are also provided under my mouse when simply pressing the right mouse button. I happen to press the right mouse button more naturally on my desktop then moving to one specific corner and clicking the toolbox. I quite simply have no use for the toolbox. It sits in a corner on every monitor (i have 2, sometimes more) and i just fail to see the point in having that toolbox there at all for my desktop. Sure, it is a very nice box for newcomers or first run installations so it should definitely be there by default!

    I am very amazed by the immense persistence that the plasma team has to keep this box on the desktop and no sane way to disable it. It’s not how plasma works in other places where it’s very open with options and allows the user to change whatever can be changed (which in plasma is very much). Sure, it’s an integral part of plasma, but if a user really wants to have it gone then it should be possible to do so in my humble opinion. The way you provide now is “a” way but still feels nasty. You just install plasma a plasmoid with an empty qml file and the toolbox namespace. In every single other place that would be considered a nasty workaround for a real issue.

    For the record, i’m not a “hater”. I know and understand the reasons for having the toolbox. I only want to have a “power user option” to disable it in a clean way. By clean i don’t mean a hidden config value or installing an empty package. By clean i mean an option in the plasma settings that say something like: ” [ ] Threat toolbox as regular plasmoid”. Ticking that would then allow me to remove the toolbox from my desktop like i can remove any plasmoid. This would be a very conservative way of giving the user the ability to get rid of it.

    Lastly – also to end friendly :) – i really like where you plasma devs brought plasma! Before the last Akademy i was very skeptical about this, but now that i’m using it i really start to like it! It’s become a nice modern looking desktop with a flat theme i actually like! Keep up the good work!


  9. To me this seams like a gnome discussion. In KDE I am used to a button somwhere to turn this thing on or off.
    Everything else in KDE has a configuration setting so doing this the gnome way just don’t seem right. Consistency please.

    Do not use it, it is not in my way. But it is not the KDE way. :-)

    Thank you for your contributions, keep up the good work.

  10. see also this forum thread https://forum.kde.org/viewtopic.php?f=285&t=122416&start=15

    In https://forum.kde.org/viewtopic.php?f=285&t=122416&start=15#p329606 shorberg says “The entire argument for the permanent “cashew” seems to boil down to “well, what if average X removes it and the panel?””.

    If plasma would make sure that it is not possible to remove the last panel – let it be called the primary panel – then the toolbox could be integrated in the primary panel.

    1. So my idea for displaying and interacting with the toolbox is the following:
      – put the toolbox in the right corner of the panel
      – make sure the panel is not killable (make the whole panel Plasma’s identity instead of the small toolbox)
      – make sure that the toolbox button in the panel is always visible and not dependent of the widget’s lock status
      => This would also reduce the amount of needed right-clicking when interacting with the panel

  11. Why not make it hide able and slide in when the cursor or finger press touches the screen edge

  12. Can someone reupload the plasmoid? I tried to download it but it 404’d, and I can’t find it anywhere.

  13. “Some users want to reduce clutter on their desktop as much as possible, however.” I am always astonished at how people want to reorganize perfectly workable software in a way they would never consider “redecorating” their cars. Like: remove the steering wheel. Because: the next 1,000 miles is straight road. Ahum, “mummy I need to take a leak” … ;-)

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