Every time I've tried to use Unity, I get stuck with the problem of there not being any standard lists of programs—there’s no menu for things like “system tools”, there’s no way to find the terminal without TYPING “terminal”. And yes, I’m sure some of you are laughing because someone couldn't remember the word “terminal”, but I just couldn't remember at one point—I could remember “shell” or “bash” but I couldn't remember “terminal” and was scratching my head (eventually I found it with a web search). This of course applies to just about any program, and you have to admit, some programs are named VERY strange things that sometimes have nothing to do with what the program actually does.

With Unity, I can’t find AND launch programs JUST using the mouse unless they’re already in the sidebar/dock/taskbar thingy, and it’s frustrating, being a person that’s really really bad with names. I know you can find lists of things using the Software Center, but that's not for launching programs. Why do you require people memorize the names of everything?

Are there ANY plans on making the GUI easier for people who are bad with names?


Well, can't speak about the future but here's a little something that will give you a list of software that your OS knows about:

for files in /usr/share/applications/*.desktop; do grep -e "^Exec=" -e "^Name=" $files | sed 's/Exec=/Command: /g' | sed 's/Name=/Name: /g' >> ~/Desktop/mgtl.txt ; done  

So, after running this code by copying (Ctrl+C) and pasting it (Ctrl + Alt + V) into a terminal and then pressing Enter, you'll find a file called mgtl.txt on your Desktop. This file will look like this (in part):

Name: Report a problem...  
Command: /usr/share/apport/apport-gtk -c %f  
Name: Audacity  
Command: audacity %F  
Name: Bluetooth Manager  
Command: blueman-manager  
Name: Catfish File Search  
Command: catfish  
Name: Composer  
Command: /usr/local/seamonkey/seamonkey --edit %U  
Name: UXTerm  
Command: uxterm  
Name: XTerm  
Command: xterm  
Name: ImageMagick (display)  
Command: /usr/bin/display.im6 %f  
Name: Document Viewer  
Command: evince %U  


  • the file is called mgtl.txt because MG&TL wrote the code :)
  • the order of Name and Command may sometimes be "off" because some .desktop files have more than one Name and Command (line starting with Exec=), but not always in the same order.
  • That is very useful! I don't know if this post is the correct one to show that script, but I hope others users remark/upvote this. – Lucio Mar 5 '13 at 5:06
  • Glad you like it. But that code needs a little more help so that Name and Exec= and paired properly even if they are not correctly ordered. LibreOffice is one example as I pointed out in the Ubuntu Forums thread. Unfortunately, I can't code :( – user25656 Mar 5 '13 at 5:16
  • This is very interesting. Thanks for this info. It doesn't solve the issue, but it definitely is helpful. Thanks. – Kizzume Mar 5 '13 at 5:20

Once you launch one of the programs like terminal you can pin it to the launch bar. This is a work around, not an answer to your question

  • Yeah, see, I didn't even have the "launch bar" named right, I called it the "sidebar/dock/taskbar thingy". The problem is launching a program without knowing its name. How do you do it? – Kizzume Mar 5 '13 at 4:17
  • It's actually called Unity Launcher, Launcher for short. The problem is launching a program without knowing its name. How do you do it? - Open the Dash by pressing the Win key and type what you're looking for, it's supposed to come up with results that are related to the keyword you typed. – Uri Herrera Mar 5 '13 at 4:34
  • Well, for instance, when I couldn't remember "terminal", nothing I typed helped. "Shell" "bash" and a number of other searches found NOTHING. I'm just trying to get a list of programs that I can click and launch based off categories, like system tools--the terminal should be a system tool. I'd like to launch something WITHOUT having to type anything, I should be able to launch a program using JUST the mouse. – Kizzume Mar 5 '13 at 4:44
  • You may want to look into other Desktop environments such as XFCE or LXDE or KDE if Unity doesn't fit your workflow. Those environments offer menus that contain categories just like old gnome 2. – Uri Herrera Mar 5 '13 at 4:51
  • Unity is the GUI that comes with Ubuntu, which is the most popular and most supported version of Linux out there. It would seem to me that Unity would be designed for everyone, not just people who memorize the names of every program on their computer. – Kizzume Mar 5 '13 at 5:13

I don't know about the future, but you can try another DE like KDE/Gnome3/LXDE/XFCE. However if you want the look of gnome 2, you can install gnome-panel from software center. Then log out select gnome-classic from session.

It will look something like


This is applicable for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

  • That screen is wrong, it's 1. from Red Hat and 2. it's Gnome 2 not Gnome 3 Classic. – Uri Herrera Mar 5 '13 at 4:33
  • That wee thing in the top left corner gave the game away! – user25656 Mar 5 '13 at 4:44
  • Leading me to a totally different GUI isn't helpful, honestly. I appreciate that you're trying to help though, don't get me wrong. I know all about Gnome and KDE, I'm just wondering whether they're going to add extra functionality to Unity to make it easier for those who don't remember the names of programs. – Kizzume Mar 5 '13 at 4:59
  • Hey I think I have a great idea for a Unity-inspired process manager: It's a simplified interface that shows a small blank white window until you type the name of the process you want to see, then it expands that window to show you that process. It's so much easier than seeing all those confusing processes you're not interested in. After all, everyone knows the names of all their processes, right, it's just like knowing the names of all your system applications, it's easy, right? – Kizzume Mar 5 '13 at 12:48

This is probably not going to be part of the official releases, but to me it sounds like the old-style menu is what you mostly miss from pre-Unity Ubuntu? You can get one in Unity too as an indicator menu, without changing the desktop environment:

ClassicMenu Indicator

Open the terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T)

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:diesch/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install classicmenu-indicator

Then open Dash, use the search perhaps for one final time ;), and open ClassicMenu Indicator. It adds itself automatically to the Startup Applications.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.