Mac osx and Ubuntu have the same type of bar at the top of the screen. What I mean is that it is dynamic, when you launch an application, you can reach its setting by using that top bar, file view and so on is not implemented in the application itself, but it is implemented to that bar.

What is this user interface called?


The top bar in Ubuntu (Unity) is called the panel. Sometimes the menus are called the global menu bar, but not often.

As an aside, menus actually are implemented in applications. They just appear in the panel.

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  • What I am trying to ask is how to name that appearance in the panel? I am trying to google for linux distros in which those menus appear in the panel and I have no idea how to express myself. – Marius Jun 3 '13 at 19:28
  • what appearance? the appearance of the menu bars being in the panel, not the application window? that's called the global menu bar. – strugee Jun 3 '13 at 20:28
  • the global menu bar is implemented by messing with gtk+, iirc. so if you have a gtk+ app, you'll automatically inherit the behavior. – strugee Jun 3 '13 at 20:28

Find out What's the right terminology for Unity's UI elements?

Complementary to the Global Menu there is the HUD. How do I use the HUD?.

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The menu you are talking about is a property of the unity desktop. It is known as the 'Unity Global Menu'.

Each application implements it own the main menu, but the desktop environment places them where it sees fit. The Unity desktop environment, developed by Canonical as a replacement of Gnome, chooses to place these menus in the top panel.

If you run the same applications in a xfce environment (for example), then the menu will appear in the window.

This applies to all applications that define their menu using the gtk library. For those that don't, including Firefox and LibreOffice, special patches have been made to make the menus work in the global menu. Otherwise applications that don't will have their menu in the window.

Another exception, that I know of, are Java applications. These always have their menu's in the java window. I think this is because Java bypasses the desktop environment to create java app windows, not defining their menus in gtk.

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  • your assumption about java is right. if an app isn't using gtk, e.g. firefox, the behavior will have to be manually implemented. – strugee Jun 3 '13 at 20:29
  • @strugee Firefox does appear to use the Global menu however. At least on my Ubuntu laptop? – AntonChanning Jun 3 '13 at 20:35
  • yes, but I'm saying that it had to be manually programmed. for most apps, it Just Works, but for Firefox (and also LibreOffice and probably others), there has to be app-specific logic/patches. – strugee Jun 3 '13 at 22:34
  • @strugee Ah, so with Firefox, they didn't use the gtk but had to get the menu into the Unity Global Menu some other way. – AntonChanning Jun 4 '13 at 6:58
  • exactly. firefox does use GTK+, but it's weird because the UI is actually written in a Mozilla language called XUL (pronounced zOOl), and then Gecko (the rendering engine) uses the native toolkit to render the XUL, which on Linux is GTK+ but on e.g. Mac OS X is Cocoa UI. So it does use GTK+, but not quite in a way that's easy to do stuff like the global menu bar with. – strugee Jun 4 '13 at 14:58

The global menu as described here is an exclusive feature of Unity. The Unity HUD benefits of it: it finds almost every menu entry of all running applications.

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