Fast App Launching with GNOME Do

When your panel is littered with application shortcuts or you press Alt-F2 every few minutes to launch a new program, check out a better, faster way to launch your programs—GNOME Do.

GNOME Do has a pretty shallow learning curve. The interface is easy to grasp, so before too long, you will find it easy to launch programs and interact with plugins and other features. Of course, to get to these features, you first need to go the Preferences window. In the top right-hand corner of the window, you will notice a small triangle. When you click on it, you'll see a drop-down menu with About, Preferences and Quit options. Choose Preferences.

The Preferences window is minimalist (Figure 4) and divides its settings into three tabs. In the first tab, you can change basic settings, such as whether GNOME Do starts at login, whether to show its notification icon and what theme to use. The second tab lets you configure keyboard bindings used with GNOME Do in case you want to change the defaults. The final Plugins tab is probably the most interesting. GNOME Do ships with a number of plugins, and additional third-party plugins extend GNOME Do's functionality.

Figure 4. GNOME Do Preferences Window


GNOME Do's plugins are what move this program beyond a replacement for the Applications menu on your desktop into a blend between a launcher, desktop search tool and central interface for other desktop operations. Most of the plugins probably will be disabled by default, so to get this extra functionality, you need to go into the Preferences window and enable the particular plugin. Below, I highlight a few particularly interesting plugins.

File Plugins

A few different plugins turn GNOME Do into a file browser and search tool. The Files and Folders plugin indexes directories of your choice (highlight the Files and Folders plugin in your Preferences window, and then click Configure to set which folders it indexes). As you type, GNOME Do lists files it finds within those directories as results. You then can copy, delete, browse and perform a number of other options on the files, as shown in Figure 3.

In addition to the Files and Folders plugin is the Locate Files plugin. This plugin uses the GNU locate command, so instead of just searching through directories you specify, you can type a keyword and then select Locate Files in the actions pane. GNOME Do then returns the list of results so you can act on them (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Locate Plugin Results


With a name like GNOME Do, you probably won't be surprised to know that there are a number of plugins that extend into GNOME functions. The GNOME Dictionary plugin provides a define action, so you can type a word, choose define and get back a definition. The GNOME Screenshot plugin adds a Take Screenshot result if you start to type that phrase. Then you can configure screenshots of the entire desktop, a specific window or even take screenshots after a timed delay. I used that particular plugin quite a bit while writing this article.

The GNOME Terminal plugin extends the traditional Alt-F2 command window in that you can not only run commands within the GNOME Terminal, you also can select particular GNOME Terminal profiles you have created. Figure 6 shows the result when I type mutt into GNOME Do. The Open Profile action represents my mutt GNOME Terminal profile.

Finally, the GNOME Session Management plugin gives you the same functionality as the power button at the top of the GNOME panel, so you can lock your screen, shut down, reboot and hibernate your desktop.

Figure 6. GNOME Terminal Profile Action

Google Tools

A number of plugins can query Google services. The Gmail Contacts plugin indexes your Gmail contact list and provides it as results to queries so you then can select actions, such as e-mail. You also can interface with your Google Calendar using the plugin of the same name and search through and even create new events. The Google Calculator plugin lets you perform the same calculations and conversions you can perform on the Google Calculator site, only within GNOME Do. Finally, with the Google Maps plugin, you can type in an address and select Map to submit the location to Google Maps.


Kyle Rankin is Chief Security Officer at Purism, a company focused on computers that respect your privacy, security, and freedom. He is the author of many books including Linux Hardening in Hostile Networks, DevOps Troubleshooting and The Official Ubuntu


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How to launch your own executables?

ps1946's picture

I am a new Ubuntu user, migrating from Windows.

I would like to launch my own programs using Gnome-Do but so far could not make it happen.
Say I write a program "~/projects/hello.c" and compile it into "~/projects/a.out".
To test it I open a terminal and type "~/projects/a.out" at the prompt. Everything works as expected.

Using Do to do the same simple task doesn't seem to work:

1. open Gnome-Do (space) and type "terminal".
2. type to activate Do's right window
3. type "~/projects/a.out"
4. Gnome-Do closes, nothing happens.

Gnome-Do by default loads

Kyle's picture

Gnome-Do by default loads things that are in the Gnome menu, so if you want your app to be launched from Gnome-Do you will have to add it to the Gnome menu (System->Preferences->Main Menu).