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With any recent ubuntu that supports gtk-launch just simply go gtk-launch name where name is the name of the .desktop without the .desktop part So gtk-launch foo opens foo.desktop Usable from terminal or alt+F2 (alt+F2 stores command in history so easily accessible
They're similar things, but while a link it's just that, a link to a file or folder, a shortcut can contain more information, like launching parameters, personalized icons, etc. To create a symbolic link you just need to do in a terminal: ln -s /path/to/file /path/to/symboliclink To create shortcuts with personalized options, there's a program called ...
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