How to create custom application launchers in Gnome 3

Back in Gnome 2, we can simply right-clicked on a panel and chose “Create custom launcher” to create custom application launchers. But since the advent of Gnome 3, the panels where we add our frequently-used applications have been replaced with the Dash.

Alacarte is a graphical menu editor that lets you edit, add, and delete menu entries. It follows the freedesktop.org menu specification and should work with any desktop environment that uses this specification.

Alacarte is the same menu editor that was available in Gnome 2. The only difference is the way we open it. In Gnome 3, we now select it from the App List.

But first we need to install Alacarte. As root, execute the following command in your terminal:

yum install alacarte

Run Alacarte by searching and clicking it from the Applications menu (it shows up as Main Menu) or executing it from the command line. Doing so should show you this familiar window:

Alacarte - Main Menu

Alacarte - Main Menu

Choose the menu where you want your application to fall under and then click the New Item button.

Alacarte - Create Launcher

Alacarte - Create Launcher

In this example, I used the details for the SpringSource Tool Suite, which I just installed, replacing the icon with that of STS (icon.xpm), and pointing the Command to the STS executable file. Then click OK.

Alacarte - Create Launcher with details

Alacarte - Create Launcher with details

That’s it. We’ve created our application launcher. To verify, we can search the STS application launcher we created from the App List.

Gnome 3 Application Search

Gnome 3 Application Search

If you think you’re going to use the launcher frequently, you can simply right-click on it and select Add to Favorites to add it in the Dash.

Gnome 3 - Add to Favorites

Gnome 3 - Add to Favorites

Voila! The launcher is now available from the Dash.

The Dash containing the new application launcher

The Dash containing the new application launcher

How to add Power Off option in Gnome 3 User Menu on Fedora 15

Because of Gnome 3’s deep hardware integration, if Fedora indicates that the Suspend is known to work on your machine, it shows the Suspend option in the User Menu instead of the Power Off option.

But for us who want the Power Off option available all the time, and don’t want to Log Out first before shutting-down the machine, there’s the alternative-status-menu Gnome extension which replaces the default Gnome 3 User Menu with one that includes both Suspend and Power Off options.
Execute the following as root to install the Gnome extension.

yum install gnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu

Then refresh Gnome shell by pressing Alt + F2, enter r, then press Enter. After the refresh, your User Menu should now like something similar to this one:

Fedora 15 Gnome 3 User Menu

Fedora 15 Gnome 3 User Menu

Note: This particular extension adds the Hibernate option, too!

Fix for “Aw, Snap!” when loading Twitter on Chrome on Fedora 15 with SELinux enforcing enabled

Good thing I found the fix in the Chromium issues list because I was already tempted to disable SELinux altogether.

Daniel Walsh explains:

We are trying to control what the chrome-sandbox is allowed to do, since it is setuid. The bug that you are seeing is caused by a file/directory being created in the homedir with the wrong label on it. In F15 we did not have policycoreutils-restorecond installed by default, which would have fixed the mislabeled directory. We can add this to a comps file to make sure it gets installed in the future. In F16 we have the ability to label these files/directories correctly on creation.

The quick fix is to execute the following command:

restorecon -R ~/.config

The command also solves the problem where the Xmarks Bookmarks Synchronizer and Delicious Bookmarks Extensions keeps on crashing on Chrome on Fedora 15.

Fedora 15 pre/post-installation setup

I have mentioned in my previous post containing GNOME 3 screenshots (which I should say is a thing of beauty) that I’ve installed Fedora 15.

During the pre-installation customization page, I clicked some of the familiar items that I would normally install eventually:

Applications

  • Design Suite (contains GIMP and OptiPNG, plus more)
  • Office/Productivity (contains LibreOffice)
  • Sound & Video (checked Amarok)

Development

  • Development Tools (checked cmake and PyLint)
  • Fedora Eclipse
  • Java Development
  • Web Development (checked Django)

Servers

  • Mail Server (SendMail)
  • MySQL Database (checked php-mysql)
  • PostgreSQL Database
  • Printing Support
  • Server Configuration Tools
  • Web Server (mod_python, mod_ssl, php, php-ldap)

Here’s my post-installation setup:

Update

Updating for the first time also installs the GPG keys, which are needed so you won’t get errors regarding unsigned packages when you use the “fedora” and “updates” repositories of Fedora. In our terminal, as root, type:

yum update

RPM Fusion

From the RPM Fusion website site:

RPM Fusion provides software that the Fedora Project or Red Hat doesn’t want to ship. That software is provided as precompiled RPMs for all current Fedora versions and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5; you can use the RPM Fusion repositories with tools like yum and PackageKit.

RPM Fusion is a merger of DribbleFreshrpms, and Livna; our goal is to simplify end-user experience by grouping as much add-on software as possible in a single location.

To install both the free and non-free repositories, simply download and double-click the RPM Fusion free for Fedora Rawhide and what will become Fedora 15 (Alpha, Beta and snapshots) and RPM Fusion nonfree for Fedora Rawhide and what will become Fedora 15 (Alpha, Beta and snapshots) from the RPM Fusion Configuration page.

Google Chrome

Download the rpm file from the Chrome download page. Installing it is as easy as double-clicking the file.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox add-ons that use.

Azureus

This is what I use to download torrents.

yum install azureus

p7zip

For operating with the 7z file archiving format.

yum install p7zip

Filezilla

For transfering files between machines.

yum install filezilla

pgadmin3

For PostgreSQL database administration.

yum install pgadmin3

VLC

For watching videos without worrying about the file formats:

yum install vlc

Unrar

For extracting RAR file archives.

yum install unrar

Grip

CD-ripper with database lookup/submission to share track information over the net, supports OGG and FLAC and adding ID3v1/v2 to MP3s.

yum install grip

Skype

They now have Skype 2.2 Beta for Linux. Simply download and double-click the RPM installer.

PulseCaster

This is what I use for recording Skype calls.

yum install pulsecaster

vsftpd

Secure, fast FTP server

yum install vsftpd

Alacarte

To create custom application launchers.

yum install alacarte

Tomcat 6

yum install tomcat6

PHP

Some PHP modules that I need for web development.

yum install php-xml

Sun JDK

Download Java SE SDK RPM Installer from the Java SE Downloads page and execute the similar commands as root:

Run the Java JDK binary:

chmod +x /home/randell/Downloads/jdk-6u25-linux-i586-rpm.bin
sh /home/randell/Downloads/jdk-6u25-linux-i586-rpm.bin

Install Java JDK java, javaws, libjavaplugin.so (for Firefox) and javac using alternatives –install:

alternatives --install /usr/bin/java java /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_25/jre/bin/java 20000
alternatives --install /usr/bin/javaws javaws /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_25/jre/bin/javaws 20000
alternatives --install /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/libjavaplugin.so  libjavaplugin.so /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_25/jre/lib/i386/libnpjp2.so 20000
alternatives --install /usr/bin/javac javac /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_25/bin/javac 20000
alternatives --install /usr/bin/jar jar /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_25/bin/jar 20000

Add the following JAVA_HOME environment variable to /etc/profile:

export JAVA_HOME="/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_25"

MySQL Workbench

For designing databases visually.

yum install mysql-workbench

Calibre

For converting e-books to different formats and for managing your e-book collection.

yum install calibre

bash auto-completion

yum install bash-completion

chmsee

HTML Help viewer for Unix/Linux (for viewing .chm files).

yum install chmsee

Development files for Qt toolkit

To develop applications using the Qt toolkit. And include the graphical configuration tool as well.

yum install qt-devel qt-config

GStreamer non-free plugins

From the Fedora Unity Project:

GStreamer is a multimedia framework used by many media players including rhythmbox, banshee, totem, listen, exaile and others. Due to legal issues support for various non-free formats , including mp3 files, aren’t included with GStreamer by default. You can add support for mp3 and other formats by installing an add-on package from the third party repository rpm.livna.org

yum install gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-ffmpeg phonon-backend-gstreamer

FFMpeg

yum install ffmpeg ffmpeg-libs

DVD playback

yum install libdvdread libdvdnav lsdvd

Aptana

Downloaded Aptana 3 from http://www.aptana.com/.

GnomeTweakTool

One of the things that weren’t immediately obvious when I was setting-up Fedora 15 was the ability to easily change the font sizes for applications, documents and windows. Googling led me to GnomeTweakTool, which allows us to customize “advanced” GNOME 3 options.

yum install gnome-tweak-tool

After installing TweakTool, I customized my fonts as follows:

  • Document font: Sans 10
  • Monospace font: Monospace 10

File Management Preferences

From a Nautilus window, go to Edit > Preferences. I modified mine to reflect the following changes:

  • Default View > View new folders using: List View
  • Icon View Defaults > Default zoom level: 66%
  • List View Defaults > Default zoom level: 33%

Favorites

I customized my Favorites to include these frequently used applications:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox (added by default)
  • Terminal
  • Files (added by default)
  • Amarok
  • Eclipse
  • Empathy
  • Take Screenshot

Terminal

Edit > Profile Preferences > Colors > Foreground and Background

  • Use colors from system theme: Unchecked
  • Built-in schemes: Green on black

Text Editor

Edit > Preferences

  • View
    • Line Numbers >  Display line numbers: Checked
    • Current Line > Highlight current line: Checked
    • Right Margin >  Display right margin: Checked
    • Bracket Matching > Highlight matching bracket: Checked
  • Editor
    • Tab Stops
      • Tab width: 4
      • Insert spaces instead of tabs: Checked
    • Automatic Indentation > Enable automatic indentation: Checked
    • File Saving
      • Create a backup of files before saving: Unchecked
      • Autosave files every: 5 minutes
    • Font & Colors > Color Scheme: Oblivion

* I’ll simply update this post if ever I come across software I use that I forgot to list here.

GNOME 3 on Fedora 15

I’ve just installed Fedora 15, and one of the things that surprised me was GNOME 3. I knew from the release notes that GNOME was coming to Fedora 15, but I didn’t bother looking at the details nor at the larger versions of screenshots. I knew that GNOME 3 was going to be better than the older versions, but never thought that it was this good.

Workspace

Blank Workspace

Empty workspace

App List

The App List can be accessed by pressing the logo (Window) key. Typing-in the first few letters of the name of the application and it filters the list to your desired application. This is very useful if you prefer minimal usage of the mouse. But if you prefer using the mouse, you can also access the App List by hovering your mouse to the top-left corner of the workspace and selecting Applications.

You can also pin your frequently used apps in the dash (left side) so you no longer have to sift through all the apps to get to your favorite apps.

App List

App List

Activities Overview

This practically replaces the taskbar where we can click any of the running applications to put them to focus.

Activities Overview showing one application (Firefox 4)

Activities Overview showing one application (Firefox 4)

Activities Overview showing several windows

Activities Overview showing several windows

Some other nifty things you can do with GNOME 3:

  • Pressing the logo (Windows) key launches the Activities Overview.
  • Dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes the window. Dragging it down returns the window to its original size.
  • Dragging a window to the left or right side snaps the window to fill half the screen, which allows you to view two windows side-by-side. Dragging the window away from the side returns the window to its original size.
  • Pressing Ctrl + Alt + Up | Down moves you to different workspaces.
  • Ctrl + Shift + Alt + R to start/stop recording a screencast.
Update (20110724): Here’s the Gnome 3 Cheatsheet! http://live.gnome.org/GnomeShell/CheatSheet

There’s more to GNOME 3 than what I can show you via screenshots. For more on GNOME 3, checkout the release notes: GNOME 3 Release Notes