helloSystem is designed with simplicity in mind. Less, but better. This page describes key elements of the hello desktop. To begin with, everything should be welcoming for Mac users but 10x as simple.


In order of preference:

  • PyQt

  • Qml

  • Qt

  • Kf5 components where absolutely needed

  • Everything else

  • Gtk

Rationale: Most cross real-world productivity applications are written cross-platform and this often means Qt. Hence, to provide the best possible environment for those applications, we choose Qt for now. Philosophically, we would prefer to use something BSD licensed (or similar), such as FyneDesk, but in its current state it cannot yet provide the same truly native experience for existing Qt applications. (Maybe it helps to think of Qt as the “Carbon of hello”, whereas something else will eventually become the “Cocoa of hello”.)

Desktop components

The minimum number of components viable to produce an efficient desktop should be used. Each component should be as simple as possible, and have as few dependencies as possible (besides the ones that are central to the hello Desktop, such as Qt and PyQt). Outside dependencies that are closely tied to other outside components should be avoided. XDG specifications are considered overly complex but insufficient and should be avoided, but may be acceptable as legacy technology for compatibility reasons.


File manager that can handle (simplified) .app and .AppDir bundles


A Dock that shows icons for running and pinned applications. (In the future it should also get an animated icon as a launching indicator for applications that are being launched but are not yet showing a window.)

launch command

The launch command is used to launch applications without specifying a path to them.

The launch command is expected to determine the preferred instance of an application with the given name. (The launch command is supposed to find the preferred instance, e.g., the one with the highest version, the one last put onto the system, etc.) Eventually the launch command should also gain knowledge of which application to open a file with.

Filer is supposed to launch all applications through the launch command. Shell scripts, .desktop files, etc. should be written to use the launch command rather than hardcoding paths to applications, where appropriate.

If an application cannot be launched, the launch command shall give a localized, understandable clear-text error message and offer a solution if possible; fall back to the console output of the application that could not be launched. When beginning to launch an application, the launch command shall notify the Dock via some IPC mechanism (ideally something much simpler than the convoluted D-Bus) about the icon and name of the application about to be launched, so that the Dock can start a launch animation until the application is showing its first window).

IPC mechanism for the desktop

A very simple IPC mechanism should be introduced for the desktop components to talk to each other. A lightweight, standard publish/subscribe mechanism should be identified; possibly something like MQTT (which would have the added benefit of allowing for network-wide communication). In the meantime, the use of D-Bus as a legacy technology may be acceptable (even though it is considered obscure, convoluted, and closely linked with various other Red Hat technologies.)


Applications must not need to be installed. Simply downloading them, attaching an external drive containing them, or connecting to a network share containing them must be sufficient. Multiple versions of the same application must be able to co-exist. The launch command is responsible to determine which one to use in cases where the user did not explicitly launch a specific instance by double-clicking it.

Custom-written applications should come as Application bundles whenever possible. It is acceptable for pre-existing applications to come with legacy XDG desktop files instead.


The system should come with some commonly used utilities, such as a Terminal application, a Process Monitor application, etc. These are just regular applications inside a ‘Utilities’ subdirectory. It is acceptable for pre-existing applications, preferably written in Qt.


The system should come with some commonly used preference panels, such as for configuring the system language, OpenZFS Boot Environments, etc. These are just regular applications inside a ‘Preferences’ subdirectory. These should be super simple, “minimal viable” applications. It is expected that many will need to be written from scratch, but it is acceptable to re-use pre-existing applications, preferably written in Qt.