Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to Create a Custom Launcher in Unity on Ubuntu 11.10

One of the first things I always have to do after a fresh install of the latest Ubuntu (or whatever distro is striking my fancy at the time) is create some custom launchers for applications like Eclipse.


Prior to Unity this was done quite easily by editing the menus. In Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity this was no longer an option, so you could right-click on your desktop and select "Create Launcher" and then move the new launcher to ~/.local/share/applications, or there was also a method of creating a .desktop file manually that did the trick.


In Ubuntu 11.10 the right-click menu option for "Create Launcher" was removed (you can read more about why here), so we're really left with no easy way to create custom launchers. I consider myself a gearhead but even I didn't care for the "just launch the binary from the terminal" suggestion by some people in the bug thread.


So in my semi-obsessive reading about all of this last night I came across a metion of a package called alacarte that brings back the classic menu editing functionality we knew and loved back in the pre-Unity days.


Just install it:

sudo apt-get install alacarte


Then run it (alacarte from a terminal, or just hit super and search for alacarte), and you've gone retro with your menu editing.


One of the 10,000 things I love about free sofware--if there's an annoyance like this chances are someone else who's annoyed will fix it, or you can always jump in and fix it yourself. Clearly this wasn't something on which the Ubuntu developers were going to budge but the alacarte solution works extremely well.

8 comments:

Artur Yarosh said...

Nice advice! Thanks.

Thom Chubb said...

Great fix. I like to use mrxvt as my default terminal, but this didn't appear among the options in the "Installed Applications" menu. I now have access to mrxvt from the launcher bar. Thanks!

bnmng said...

Thank you for posting this. It's frustrating that they make it harder to customize in order to make it easier to do simple tasks. After reading this I also found alcarte in the software center under "Main Menu".

Frederick Arters said...

Side note. I installed alacarte and added a new launcher but could not find it in the applications in Unity. Doing a search would not find it. Someone suggested that the comment field, not the app name might be used for the search and.. bingo. Adding a comment made the app appear in the search results. FYI

malina martis said...

waw that was great view, fantastic work here..thanks for sharing such a nice post.zenegra

brianjcohen said...

alacarte depends on gnome-desktop-icon-edit, which is part of the gnome-panel package. So for this tip to work, you must make sure you have gnome-panel installed. Otherwise, alacarte will launch but clicking 'New Item' won't do anything.

Joseph Ross said...

Thanks Brianjcohen! Without the gnome-panel NOTHING works! Great info! Now I can add a script that runs in a terminal to the Unity launcher.Thanks all,Joe

Joseph Ross said...

Thanks Brianjcohen! Without the gnome-panel NOTHING works! Great info! Now I can add a script that runs in a terminal to the Unity launcher.Thanks all,Joe