Unity has no method to maintain properties of launchers

Bug #705007 reported by Alan Pope 🍺🐧🐱 🦄
This bug affects 22 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
unity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: unity

In Unity I would like to have multiple icons for one application in the same way that I do on my classic GNOME desktop. One points the standard application binary, another has parameters appended. Right now I'm told that the user has to maintain .desktop text files as there is no GUI for setting this.

In GNOME 2 we were able to maintain the 'properties' of a launcher with Right Click -> Properties. Can this functionality be ported to Unity please?

Use case 1: Mark is a web developer and needs to test sites under multiple personalities (admin, user, non-authorised user) in Firefox. This is achieved with multiple profiles, each with their own cookies, add-ons, cache etc.

firefox -profilemanager

Use case 2: Andy is a systems administrator and uses ssh frequently to access a set of known boxes

ssh kwak.example.com
ssh faustino.example.com

Use case 3: Alan is testing some software, and would like to always run it in debug mode so that he can give the verbose results of his testing to the developer

tomboy --debug

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 11.04
Package: unity 3.2.12-0ubuntu3
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 2.6.37-12.26-generic 2.6.37
Uname: Linux 2.6.37-12-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia
 NVRM version: NVIDIA UNIX x86_64 Kernel Module 260.19.29 Wed Dec 8 12:08:56 PST 2010
 GCC version: gcc version 4.5.2 (Ubuntu/Linaro 4.5.2-1ubuntu6)
Architecture: amd64
Date: Wed Jan 19 16:18:41 2011
DistUpgraded: Yes, recently upgraded Log time: 2011-01-19 12:33:17.207056
DistroCodename: natty
DistroVariant: ubuntu
 nvidia-current, 260.19.29, 2.6.37-12-generic, x86_64: installed
 nvidia-current, 260.19.29, 2.6.35-24-generic, x86_64: installed
 vboxhost, 3.2.12, 2.6.37-12-generic, x86_64: installed
 vboxhost, 3.2.12, 2.6.35-24-generic, x86_64: installed
GraphicsCard: Subsystem: LeadTek Research Inc. Device [107d:2a62]
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS "Lucid Lynx" - Release amd64 (20100816.1)
InstallationMedia_: Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS "Lucid Lynx" - Release amd64 (20100816.1)
MachineType: System manufacturer System Product Name
 PATH=(custom, user)
ProcKernelCmdLine: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-2.6.37-12-generic root=UUID=fb22b4e1-1576-4bf8-8272-15300bc7de38 ro vt.handoff=7 quiet splash
ProcVersionSignature_: Ubuntu 2.6.37-12.26-generic 2.6.37
SourcePackage: unity

dmi.bios.date: 04/24/2009
dmi.bios.vendor: Phoenix Technologies, LTD
dmi.bios.version: ASUS P5N32-E SLI ACPI BIOS Revision 1801
dmi.board.name: P5N32-E SLI
dmi.board.vendor: ASUSTeK Computer INC.
dmi.board.version: 1.XX
dmi.chassis.asset.tag: 123456789000
dmi.chassis.type: 3
dmi.chassis.vendor: Chassis Manufacture
dmi.chassis.version: Chassis Version
dmi.modalias: dmi:bvnPhoenixTechnologies,LTD:bvrASUSP5N32-ESLIACPIBIOSRevision1801:bd04/24/2009:svnSystemmanufacturer:pnSystemProductName:pvrSystemVersion:rvnASUSTeKComputerINC.:rnP5N32-ESLI:rvr1.XX:cvnChassisManufacture:ct3:cvrChassisVersion:
dmi.product.name: System Product Name
dmi.product.version: System Version
dmi.sys.vendor: System manufacturer
version.libdrm2: libdrm2 2.4.22-2ubuntu1
version.libgl1-mesa-glx: libgl1-mesa-glx 7.9+repack-1ubuntu6
version.xserver-xorg: xserver-xorg 1:7.5+6ubuntu7
version.xserver-xorg-video-ati: xserver-xorg-video-ati 1:6.13.2-1ubuntu2
version.xserver-xorg-video-intel: xserver-xorg-video-intel 2:2.13.901-2ubuntu2
version.xserver-xorg-video-nouveau: xserver-xorg-video-nouveau 1:0.0.16+git20100805+b96170a-0ubuntu1

Revision history for this message
Alan Pope 🍺🐧🐱 🦄 (popey) wrote :
Jorge Castro (jorge)
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Neil J. Patel (njpatel) wrote :

This is interesting, Jason, could bamf handle something like this? UI wise, I'll add an ayatana-design task to see what they think.

Changed in unity:
assignee: nobody → Jason Smith (jassmith)
importance: Undecided → High
milestone: none → 3.6
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote : Re: [Bug 705007] Re: Unity has no method to maintain properties of launchers

I really do not agree we want a "properties" view of a launcher. KISS!

Revision history for this message
Alan Pope 🍺🐧🐱 🦄 (popey) wrote :

How should these launcher items be maintained? Editing a .desktop file buried in a hidden directory doesn't seem very KISS to me.

Revision history for this message
Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote :

On 20/01/11 14:44, Alan Pope wrote:
> How should these launcher items be maintained? Editing a .desktop file
> buried in a hidden directory doesn't seem very KISS to me

Apps can manage their own QuickLists both when they are running and when
they are not. That can be done inside the app in the GUI *if* it's
really warranted.


Revision history for this message
Matthew Holder (matt-mattmole) wrote :

Does this mean that new applications need to be engineered specifically with this functionality? If so, then this is a lot of work for a lot of developers to patch perfectly functional "legacy" apps.

Jason Smith (jassmith)
Changed in unity:
assignee: Jason Smith (jassmith) → Neil J. Patel (njpatel)
Changed in unity:
milestone: 3.6 → 3.6.2
Neil J. Patel (njpatel)
Changed in unity:
milestone: 3.6.2 → 3.6.6
Neil J. Patel (njpatel)
Changed in unity:
milestone: 3.6.6 → backlog
Revision history for this message
Maxim Levitsky (maximlevitsky) wrote :

This is just a disaster.
I always add launchers to apps that ether have no .desktop file (eg scripts) and sometimes add custom parameters.

Revision history for this message
LostOverThere (lostoverthere) wrote :

This needs to be fixed. There is nothing KISS about having to individually edit .desktop files. A simply desktop, would be one that could easily be maintained.

Tim Penhey (thumper)
Changed in ayatana-design:
status: New → Incomplete
Revision history for this message
Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen (kamstrup) wrote :

What I think Mark is saying is that this does not work well inside the quicklist, and I agree with that. But that doesn mean that you can't have your cake and eat it too.

All that is needed would be a small tool to manage/edit/create .desktop files in ~/.local/share/applications with a nice GUI. Whipping one up in Python should be a very small job for someone with a passion for this.

It might be nice to integrate such a tool officially somehow, but where and how to do that without cluttering the UI for normal users is not obvious to me... Perhaps a panel in the System Settings?

Gord Allott (gordallott)
Changed in unity:
assignee: Neil J. Patel (njpatel) → nobody
Omer Akram (om26er)
Changed in unity:
importance: High → Medium
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Medium
Revision history for this message
John Lea (johnlea) wrote :

The unity-launcher-editor application was designed for exactly this purpose. I have opened bug #894772 requesting that this functionality is incorporated into Ubuntu Tweak. Ken VanDine was also looking into getting unity-launcher-editor into universe, but I think this stalled because the original developers were not responsive??

I am attaching this bug to the unity-launcher-editor project, and removing it from Unity.

no longer affects: unity
no longer affects: ayatana-design
Revision history for this message
Laudeci Oliveira (laudeci) wrote :

The unity-launcher-editor is free for anyone to take up the project, I am having no time to handle some pygtk issues on it.

Revision history for this message
Alan Lord (theopensourcerer) wrote :

Man, this is annoying.

I need several launcher icons for one app as the OP.

Over a year later and we still can't create/edit/customise launchers. :-(

Revision history for this message
JohnWashington (ubuntu-johnwash) wrote :

Unless the unity-launcher-editor is invoked from the right click menu on the icon, I don't see how this (or Ubuntu Tweak) is more than a klugey workaround. If you really don't like calling it Properties, call it Edit. But whatever you call it, to satisfy some questionable 'KISS' principle, without this ability the UI is damaged. As simple as possible is a worthy goal, but please, no simpler.

How is the right click menu on launch icons generated? Is it in one of the hidden files somewhere? If so, at least this functionality could be added by some experimental tweak, then if it becomes popular there will be pressure to mainstream it.

Revision history for this message
Eli Schwartz (eschwartz) wrote :

Why is it all of a sudden unnecessary to allow users basic functionality to customize their desktop? The whole unity "upgrade" is a disaster, this is just one more reason why. Good grief, even Windows allows you to do this.

Anyone going to the effort of RIGHT-clicking on an icon in the first place is not someone who will be worried about this "weird" option.

What happened to the idea of an OS useable by both programmers and users?

I seriously have to google "how to create a launcher by hand in unity" for this?

Eli Schwartz (eschwartz)
security vulnerability: no → yes
security vulnerability: yes → no
Revision history for this message
Bernhard Kaindl (benkai) wrote :

Eli, John, Alan Lord & Pope, LostOverThere, Maxim, you are so right.

Recently I was talking with a company which uses Linux to develop software, and what you just really need in such an environment (need this too at my work as well) is the possibility to place a button somewhere on the edges of your screen where you can just click (no, we do not mean messing around with right-clicks to expose a quicklist) to launch something. This something may be an xterm which runs a specific task, or logs into some machine, or some other application which is started with specific arguments.

This is just not possible (using simple clicks as it was a given with Gnome 2) with Unity anymore, and even if you manage it, you are limited to the left side of the screen, where with Gnome 2, you would normally use the top bar where you have the full with of your screen to put many small launchers, not just a very tiny vertical bar on the left which is Unity.

Off the record, just to top off all the lost functionality: Heck, one could even add more gnome panels to the edges of their screens and launchers in them if one really needed.

With Unity, you are limited to the Unity bar on the left, but you have to google first on how to manually create desktop files and move them to the Unity launcer, or, if you are really adventourus, you could program some application-indicators and use them as launchers to finally be able to make use of the always quite empty top panel with Unity.

Changed in unity:
importance: Undecided → Medium
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Seth Johnson (sethj) wrote :

As part of the big bug clear up for 16.04 this bug is being marked as Opinion. While this bug is affecting you, and potentially others, we are not considering working on it so it won't get fixed by us. Other developers are free to pick this up and work on it. Sorry that we can't offer you help at this time.

Changed in unity:
status: Confirmed → Opinion
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Opinion
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