I am customizing an Ubuntu 14.04 Live CD with UCK (Ubuntu Customization Kit). The program gives you a chroot environment in a terminal to make changes.

I want to add and remove what programs appear on the dock.

I'm not sure if this can be accomplished by modifying the .desktop file?

How can this be done using the terminal?


The script below can be used to either add or remove items to the launcher, depending on the argument(s):

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import subprocess
import sys

desktopfile = sys.argv[1]

def current_launcher():
    get_current = subprocess.check_output(["gsettings", "get", "com.canonical.Unity.Launcher", "favorites"]).decode("utf-8")
    return eval(get_current)

def set_launcher(desktopfile):
    curr_launcher = current_launcher()
    last = [i for i, x in enumerate(curr_launcher) if x.startswith("application://")][-1]
    new_icon = "application://"+desktopfile
    if sys.argv[2] == "a":
        if not new_icon in curr_launcher:
            curr_launcher.insert(last, new_icon)
            subprocess.Popen(["gsettings", "set", "com.canonical.Unity.Launcher","favorites",str(curr_launcher)])
    elif sys.argv[2] == "r":
        subprocess.Popen(["gsettings", "set", "com.canonical.Unity.Launcher","favorites",str(curr_launcher)])


How to run it

  1. Paste the code into an empty file, save it as set_launcher.py
  2. Run it by the command:

    python3 /path/to/set_launcher.py <name_of_.desktop_file> a

    to add an icon, or:

    python3 /path/to/set_launcher.py <name_of_.desktop_file> r

    to remove an icon


    python3 /path/to/set_launcher.py gedit.desktop a

    to add gedit to the launcher, or

    python3 /path/to/set_launcher.py gedit.desktop r

    to remove gedit from the launcher


The list of launcher icons is defined in the key:

com.canonical.Unity.Launcher favorites

and can be fetched by the command:

gsettings get com.canonical.Unity.Launcher favorites

to set an alternative list (given the fact you use the correct format):

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher favorites "[item1, item2, etc]"

Can you achieve this by editing a .desktop file?

No, it has nothing to do with the file itself. What matters is that the file either is in the list of launcher favourites or not.

Editing this list from command line is exactly what the script does.

  • is the "set_launcher(desktopfile)" that is currently displayed under the code, actually part of the code? – Aaron Salyer Apr 19 '15 at 9:59
  • @AaronSalyer sharp! indeed, I forgot the indent. fixed it :) – Jacob Vlijm Apr 19 '15 at 10:01
  • 1
    Thanks for not only providing the code but also the breakdown. It makes it easier to understand what the script is doing and replicate it in other ways. This works beautifully in both the UCK environment and my 14.04 install! – Aaron Salyer Apr 19 '15 at 10:16
  • In 18.04, I couldn't find the schema mentioned through dconf-editor and anything similar. Some clue where is it stored by now? Thanks! – Arthur Henrique Della Fraga Oct 22 at 17:21

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.