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In ubuntu, I can run firefox with the command firefox in Terminal, or click the button in dock or panel.

How does this possible with ubuntu? I googled to find the name launcher, but I don't know exactly how does it work.

  • Q1 : How to make launcher? If I make a GUI program, does that mean that I need to create launcher to start by clicking it?
  • Q2 : Can I make a launcher for whatever program, even if it's not a GUI program?
  • Q3 : How to link a launcher? How can make a link to a launcher in a Desktop to start a program?
  • Q4 : The idea of launcher is unique to ubuntu? Or if I have one launcher, can I use it for other distributions?
  • Q5 : Why some of the program pops up its icon in Docky (firefox for example), but some of the program doesn't (p4v for example) ?

enter image description here

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Q1. If you right-click on a panel, you can "Add to panel" several things.... including a launcher. Similarly, you can right click the desktop and add a launcher. No, you don't have to create a launcher always. You can do it, or not.

Q2. Yes

Q3. Right clicking, as I said. Actually, launchers are text files... for instance, this is the content of my Desktop firefox launcher:

lubuntu2@PORTATIL:~/Escritorio$ cat Firefox.desktop 
  #!/usr/bin/env xdg-open

  [Desktop Entry]

Q4. No, it's not ubuntu's exclusive. And I guess you're asking about the format, not the "idea", as you said, because Windows has its so-called "shortcuts" so that you can start an application .

Q5. You can add other apps to Docky, configuring Docky itself. In fact, that an application appears in Docky or not does not depend on the application itself, but on Docky.

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You can find additional information on what a launcher is and how to create it from Help Ubuntu and from the GNOME Documentation.

Creating a custom launcher is easy. Right click anywhere on your desktop and select Create Launcher from the dropdown menu:


The following window lets you insert the command to be executed when you click on the launcher. Type in the command as you would execute it from a terminal.


Last not least here you are also able to set the icon used by clicking on it.

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I did some experiments, and this is what I found. I use an example of p4v (perforce client visualizer).

  1. I needed to make a file p4v.desktop. I could easily do that with right click button.
  2. For the icon, I just double click the icon in Properties, and set the icon.
    #!/usr/bin/env xdg-open

    [Desktop Entry]
  1. Then, I could drag and drop the launcher to anything (dock or panel).

    enter image description here

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