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There seems to be lots of help in the FAQs for customizing Unity, even with dconf-editor and other tools. However, as an administrator of a large thin client installation, from time to time, there are special installations of educational software or of scripts for special uses that I have to make available to all users.

Take, for example, the application for Oaks Standardized Testing. To install it on a workstation, one only need to untar the distro and create a link of some kind to the start up script. Once done, how to I "push" that out to every user on the network (at their next login, obviously) so that it is available to them on the Unity Dash?

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To create an icon representation of an application to be e.g shown in the Dash, or on the Desktop we need to define a <name_of_app>.desktop file that may have the following content:

[Desktop Entry]  
Exec=</path/to/executable [--options]> # commands to run  
Icon=</path/to/icon> # optional path to the icon  
Terminal=false # set 'true' for terminal applications  
OnlyShowIn=GNOME;XFCE;KDE;Unity; # optionally defines where the icon is shown

We may want to place this file in the user's HOME in ~/.local/share/applications (recommended), or for a system wide access for all users in /usr/share/applications. It is important to give the full path to the executable (or script) or to the application's icon here.

We can put this desktop file in the appropriate directory at the time we installed the external application but of course we could also do this later (e.g. during a SSH session).

See also: Desktop Entry Specification

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