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Every time I click on the application or system menus, I notice that no icons show up for a second, then they page in. Is there some way to explicitly tell Ubuntu to cache this? My SuSE (GNOME) desktop doesn't have this problem, but I don't know whether that's because they're doing something custom, or because it's a setting I'm missing.

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You will be glad to know that this issue will be fixed in the next version of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 10.10. – snostorm Jul 29 '10 at 14:41
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You'll need to manually tell Ubuntu to update the icon cache. This command should accomplish that for you:

gtk-update-icon-cache -f /usr/share/icons/THEMENAME/

Replacing THEMENAME with your theme name, of course.

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