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I've got a couple programs that I compile myself to use newer/different versions than are in the repos, and I've managed to get the dash and other parts of the desktop to recognize them by modifying my $PATH in ~/.profile, but it's obviously not picking up the icons, too.

I've tried adding .desktop files to ~/.local/share/applications, but they're still not being used. I guess I probably want to add my libdir (~/.opt) to Unity's overall environment, but I'm not sure if that's the right direction.

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It looks like if you make your local dir ~/.local (ie, for my use case, run configure --prefix=$HOME/.local instead of configure --prefix=$HOME/.opt) Unity will pick up things correctly.

Additionally, it looks like if you do that .desktop files might not be necessary to get the application-switcher to recognize icons, but are still necessary to get the unity dash to recognize things as launchable applications.

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