I'm not overly impressed with the new Unity launcher following my upgrade to 11.04. Ubuntu 10.04 with Gnome wasn't too bad once you'd sorted out all your *.desktop files and I'd been running with this for quite a while, but the number of problems I (and others) seem to be having with Unity is considerable.

And, while I may be happy spending the next few weeks trying to nut things out, my major client base (i.e., the wife) is none too happy.

What are the options for a very simple launcher, with the following specs?

  • Small icon which will bring up a text menu. Perhaps in the top area near the power button and network indicator and so forth.
  • This icon should be always on top so I can get to it regardless of what's on the screen.
  • This icon should be on every workspace so that I can start programs from anywhere.
  • A simple text configuration file that I can edit with vi, containing just the menu name and the command to run.
  • The menu should come up fast. I don't want to wait two seconds while it reads the configuration file just on the off chance I've changed something (it changes very rarely and, when it does, I'll restart it myself).

I don't really want to go back to classic Gnome since I will eventually figure out Unity, so I don't consider that an option. I'm hoping there's a simple solution to this problem that will suffice until my Unity-fu is stronger.


I don't really understand what you want. You say you don't want to replace Unity, but you want to add a menu that can be easily edited with a text editor and is fast to use? You can do that with any or all of the icons on the launcher. I think that's the best suggestion. There are lots of readily available menus of that kind which you can use as a template to add your own. It's just a four easy lines, containing a name, a command and, etc. Have a look at these:

What Custom Launchers and Unity Quicklists are available?

  • I don't want to replace Unity since that's the way Ubuntu's going. But I want something I can use now. Trying to sort out whether Unity starts a new app or activates a current one, or wondering why multiple Nautilus windows only have one icon in the launcher, or figuring out how to get multiple commands on a single icon is no doubt doable, but I want something I can use with almost no learning curve - I don't want to muck about with editing configs and restarting Unity a hundred times to test them. That can come later when I'm not so pressed for time. – user9184 Aug 8 '11 at 12:26

Okay, finally found a way to do it that requires zero extra configuration.

The trick is to run gnome-panel itself, which is the old task bar application pre-Unity.

First of all, run the System Setting program from your shutdown icon (the power switch in the top right corner of the screen). From there, select Startup Applications.

Add a new application with the name GnomePanel and the command gnome-panel. This will run the old panel on startup.

Then reboot and voila! All your old settings are there, still controlled by the old methods.

I also disabled all the key bindings for Unity except for the Super key itself since gnome-panel uses some of these, and set the launcher hide policy to Auto-hide.

These last few steps are done in ccsm under Desktop, Ubuntu Unity plug-in.

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