Mike MacDonagh's Blog

Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

Ubuntu 11 Unity: Making it useable with application menus and taskbars

Application Menu

Call me old fashioned, it’s probably true but I can’t get going with unity. Where’s the app menu? I need it! Ok I can just press the “Super” (windows key) and type for whatever I want, and accessing my most popular apps is easy enough but what about the thing I use to edit music meta data, can’t remember it’s name right now….  Or the thing that grabs stuff from the internet and adds it to my build logs, what category is that in again… And what did I download and install from the uber duper super software centre that I thought looked cool…

All these questions and more are normally answered by the Application Menu. I need it back! After upgrading to Ubuntu 11 I got so frustrated with Unity I decided to install Gnome 3 to bring it back, but some evil Unity conspirators have infiltrated the Gnome developer team and persuaded them to kill the app menu too. It’s time to fight back against this conspiracy that’s trying to turn our desktops into smart phones. To do that, just install classicmenu-indicator from Florian Diesch

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:diesch/testing

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install classicmenu-indicator

Once installed, run it: Alt-F2 type classicmenu-indicator and you’re good to go 🙂



Again I know that there’s ways of clicking on what’s running from the Unity dock, but for me it’s not very reliable in terms of popping up. In fact the Gnome3 dock is better, it kind of pings out of the top corner but both Unity and Gnome 3 have done away with taskbars for the current running windows. I use a lot of windows when I’m doing stuff, split between multiple workspaces and I just want a simple bunch of buttons to make life simple for me. Thankfully the same solution works for both Unity and Gnome3 and magically supports multiple monitors beautifully: tint2

sudo apt-get install tint2

You’ll also need to get it to auto-run which you can do by running


and adding /usr/bin/tint2 as an startup application, then you’ll need to log out/log in for it to run up 🙂

For me adding these bits are enough to make Unity usable 🙂


8 responses to “Ubuntu 11 Unity: Making it useable with application menus and taskbars

  1. Pingback: Install single window Lazarus 0.9.30 in Ubuntu 11.10 step by step « The Mac Daddy

  2. Pingback: The search for a new desktop continues « Richard's Blog

  3. Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    doesn’t work with 11.10

  4. Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    my bad, just had to RESTART!

  5. Peter August 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Sooo useful. Thanks a lot for this. Exactly what I needed! (so far at least haha)

  6. Bob L February 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Hallelujah!!! Thank God for someone else who understands the MAJOR issue with Unity (apart from it just plain SUCKS IMNSHO). Cheers for this – I spent HOURS trying to understand how/where to fire up apps under Unity that I KNEW were installed but couldn’t recall their names or find them ANYWHERE under Unity. The plain old menu system just WORKS – Canonical: READ and inwardly digest – I do NOT need icons the size of Mount Everest to run my apps I just need menus!! Get rid of that puerile left hand bar and put back menus – WAY more ergonomical and efficient.

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