Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Four Great Gnome Panel Applets

Gnome is the most popular Linux desktop environment and one of it's key features that makes it so wonderful is the "gnome panel". For those unfamiliar the "gnome panel" is the bar that is typically located at the bottom (and top sometimes) of the screen where your menu, task-bar, and icon tray are located. If you have never done it, try right clicking on some blank space and click "add to panel". You will be presented with a list of applets you can add to the panel. While there are a good number to choose from by default, there are piles of other applets you can find online to install. The following is a list of my four favorites I use on my various Linux systems around my house.

Namebar -

Namebar allows you to optimize screen space when you maximize an application by moving the title bar and minimize/maximize/close buttons onto the gnome panel. Download the Namebar in .deb form from here. Also note that you will need to make a small edit to your compiz settings to have it properly remove the gtk bar when maximized.

Global Menu -

Global Menu is another great way to save screen space (with GTK applications). It does this by moving the file/edit/ect part of the menu to the gnome panel (similar to the OSX menu). You can install global menu with .deb files you can find here. Global menu does only work for GTK applications however, so KDE apps, Firefox, and OpenOffice will not function with it as of yet.

DockBarX -
DockBarX is designed to replace your normal task that displays your loaded applications. Instead of displaying the application's name, it simply shows the program's image icon (similar to a dock or the Windows 7 task bar). Hovering the mouse over a loaded application gives a window preview of the application:

You also have the option of "pinning" a loaded application to DockBarX so you can quickly load it later on:
To install DockBarX run the following in terminal -

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dockbar-main/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install dockbarx dockbarx-themes-extra

Gnomenu -
I saved my favorite for last! One of the things I mentioned about Zorin and Linux Mint is their main menu, Ubuntu's default "custom menu" feels bland and looks a bit dated. Gnomenu is not only flexible and customizable but has several great looks to choose from:

To install Gnomenu run the following in terminal

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnomenu-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnomenu

After installing any of these applets simply right click on blank space on one of your gnome panel and select "add to panel" and find it in the list. All of these applets are also decently customizable, right click on the applet and "select" properties and poke around a bit.

Anyone else know of fun/useful Gnome Panel applets that are not included by default in most distros? If so, let me know by dropping a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. I used Gnomenu for a couple of days and found it to be slightly less functional (although much prettier) than the standard Gnome menus. I'm always looking for applets to enhance productivity and ease of use. IMHO Gnomenu isn't one of them.

  2. Thanks for mentioning DockBarX. I've never been a fan of docks as they always want to slide away, sit on the desktop, or sit on top of my applications. This panel app is fantastic though and will finally allow me to lose my bottom panel that, until now, has only served to hold my active application list.

  3. file-browser-applet deserves a mention. Love that one.

    I love docbarx and namebar too!

    I agree with the above commenter on GnoMenu. Looks cool but far less functional.

  4. I love GnoMenu, the favorites menu allows me to use my most used apps with one click

  5. This is all moot as Gnome 3 will be dumping the Gnome Panel in favor of an all in one un-customizable interface that looks more like Ubuntu Netbook Remix than a real operating system. None of our beloved Panel Apps will work under the new environment.

  6. that is a myth... check your facts, gnome-panel will continue, there is already a bonobo-less branch

  7. dockbarx-themes-extra --> package not found, Ubuntu x64, v9.10

  8. Ahh good to know. It appears that PPA only has the extra themes compiled for i386 :-/


  9. Good article, I want to install the docBarx in my fedora, could you please let me know how to do it

  10. I already tried the gnomenu and dockbarx.

    I think gnomenu is a bit heavy and the main reason is not that functional is the skins that doesn't change much one from the other.

    As for dockbarx is realy cool the only thing missing is compiz support but since not everybody uses compiz it's not realy a miss.

  11. Thanks for Namebar.

    I tested GNOMenu and hated it, and I mean HATED IT. At the time, out of about 17 themes installed, 2-3 were based on Kickoff and the rest were Windows menu copies. And it asked for a RESTART each time I made a change! I chose Ubuntu because I wanted to get away from Windows, why would I want an applet that acts as if my OS was Windows ?!?

    I've since discovered Cardapio, a new menu applet for the GNOME panel. In the two months since it's been registered on Launchpad, it's become mature, and it has cool search plugins.

  12. Use Cardapio menu. Cardapio is GTK based. Its look is not so beautiful as Gnomenu but its functionality is much better, especially with the search engine, which allows you to browse the web and your files on your disk.

  13. I use Gnome Do, and prefer it to a start menu. I mean, I know what I'm looking for, why not just type it in and hit enter?

  14. I liked the look of DockBarX so I installed it from command line as recommended. However the add to panel tool can't find it and all I can find in my files is a dockbarx_factory python script in /usr/bin.

    What has gone wrong?

  15. Please ignore - I reinstalled with synaptic and it's working :)