Testing Indicator Application Menu Support

In the Ubuntu 10.10 cycle we have committed to implementing application menus in the Ubuntu Netbook Edition release of Ubuntu. There are many benefits to this approach, but I will you to the design rationale that was announced recently. I personally think this is going to be a tremendously valuable feature and continues to optimize Ubuntu for screen real-estate.

To satisfy this feature, the Desktop Experience team have produced an implementation called indicator-appmenu which has been worked on by the always awesome Cody Russell and Ted Gould. The implementation essentially re-routes application menus over dbusmenu so that they can appear in the panel; the technology is based on the same technology that drives the application indicator framework. Aside from the design rationale benefits, the implementation also supports GTK and Qt menus out of the box and will render Qt menus in GNOME with GTK widgets and vice versa. All in all I think it is hugely exciting work.

For the majority of applications that use standard menu widgets, applications should just work out of the box. We are though keen to test as many applications as possible to ensure they work and identify problem spots. Like the last cycle, this new code has been released very early for testing and improvements, and we are keen to have as many folks test, file bugs and where possible file patches to fixes.

To make this as simple as possible, this page explains how to download, test and provide feedback. Importantly, you don’t have to be running Ubuntu Netbook Edition to test – you can use the normal Ubuntu desktop edition!. Packages are already available in a PPA for Lucid and we have listed all of the apps that could do with some testing. We have also includes instructions for how to file bugs for apps that have issues; this will make it easier to produce fixes. One important note: up until alpha 2 we are deliberately leaving the menus switched on in both the application and in the panel – this provides a great way to compare and contrast the normal app menu with the panel menu to ensure they are the same.

Thanks to everyone who participates in the testing; this is sure to make the Ubuntu Netbook Edition rock even harder. :-)

To get started testing, click here!

  • http://leion.net Leion

    Is this what they have in MAC?

  • einalex

    sweet, sweet candy!

  • vluhd

    That’s enough. I’m done. Enough of the OSX Ubuntu circlejerk.


  • snkiz

    There are only so many effective ways to do a desktop. Asking for complete originality only leads to crap like gnome 3.

    Make it work well, just don’t copy/paste anyone else’s implantation.

  • Jimbo

    Mac is short for Macintosh and is not written uppercase. Sorry to be a Grammar nazi but people writing MAC is my pet hate.

  • Jimbo

    This feature is only coming to the netbook remix… Why? because it saves vertical space on the tiny netbook sceeen, and because crucially; all apps run fullscreen on the netbook remix anyways, so moving it up to the top panel isn’t really moving it very far.

    On the regular desktop version of Ubuntu they are retaining the old UI, because vertical space is less of an issue and because a global menu can be confusing to people running lots of windows not in full screen.

    So in conclusion this is nothing to do with OSX, and everything to do with changing the Ubuntu UI to better fit the netbook rather than just making people use the same interface on 10 inch screens as they do on 24 inch screens.

  • DrKenobi

    I completely agree with you! I want innovation!!

  • js

    I use the focus-follows mouse feature, so if this ever gets used on the desktop, it seems like it would be very very frustrating (move your mouse to the top menu, cross another window, focus changes, menu changes, gaaah….)

    Gimp already has this sort of problem with its single toolbar for multiple windows. Try to change a layer, cross another image window, get angry, play cursor version of marble madness to get your mouse to the toolbar without crossing another image window, repeat.

  • js

    Bah. In reliving my frustration, I forgot to get to the constructive part: Maybe this feature should only be enabled when you’ve maximized a window?

  • http://environment-products.cz.cc/10/using-environment-products-for-construction/ Using Environment Products for Construction | Environment Products

    […] Testing Indicator Application Menu Support | jonobacon@home […]

  • theodore

    you guys can complain all you want.. The truth is that many of use wanted this feature from a long time.. Thats the beauty of linux- its customizable!! With this feature- even more so

  • Jef Spaleta

    I’ll also point out that this sort of behaviour was already in use in the Hildon framework that Nokia used for the version of Meamo that shipped with the N810 (don’t have an N900 so I cant comment on what the new maemo does).

    What maemo does is a little different…because the N810 target is even more display constrained…and relies heavily on touch…but its essentially the same idea.

    The concept of throwing an application menu up into a top panel is not Mac OS X specific in any way. The same rationale that made it make sense for Ubuntu’s netbook efforts also apply to what Maemo does on my N810.

    In fact I could probably argue that the new Ubuntu Netbook design direction with the application launcher sidebar and the thin top panel..and the maximized applications by default..is borrowing more heavily from previous Meamo design than from Mac OS directly.

    Take a real good look at Nokia N810 screenshots side by side with Unity based netbook remix. Like for example this one:


    Looks a lot like the Unity based design to me.

    I personally think the N810 or N900 formfactors are the most aggressive netbook-alike targets on the market you can aim a “netbook” design for. They have touch and keyboard..and bluetooth…and wireless. If you can design for the N810 and its screen size, and its touch capabilities…then it will make sense for pretty much every other “netbook” on the market as well.


  • http://ubuntuweblog.wordpress.com Akshat

    Hey,Let me remind you this wasn’t a mac feature it was on amiga first and it is for netbooks only and kinda makes sense to be there.

  • zsolt

    That’s true, however, u can set a delay for the focus, that is enough for reaching the panel.

  • zsolt

    Guys, I clicked on the “To get started testing, click here!” link and followed the directions for the installation, but it doesn’t work for me, simply nothing appears… I’m using Ubuntu 10.04. Is there anybody facing this problem?

  • Quinn

    How does this differ from, say, the gnome-globalmenu project?


  • https://launchpad.net/~brunogirin Bruno Girin

    Don’t worry, it is designed for the netbook edition where all windows are maximised by default.

  • http://willdaniels.co.uk Will Daniels

    Not sure why suddenly if some feature exists in OS X it must be a “Mac feature”…people were coming up with useful and interesting UI designs long before Apple, it’s only that Windows stomped all over the desktop UI mindset and “innovation” pretty much came to a halt.

    It’s only natural that better designed and integrated desktop environments are going to adopt many of the same models.

    Wherever Ubuntu is heading with UI improvements, it is likely to pass through many of the same points as Apple has.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t do better than that, but you have to go from A to B to C to D etc. if you’re trying to make iterative improvements to working systems in 6-month time slots.

    3 years ago I was struggling just to maintain a complete, usable and stable desktop on Linux. My Lucid desktop today feels simpler, smoother, more polished and nicely integrated than any other desktop I have used before, or seen elsewhere.

    So I think it’s exciting to see Ubuntu pushing forward on these fronts now, with a serious focus on design and usability, regardless of where any given “idea” might have originated.

    It’s been a long time getting to a point where the focus can fully rest on these finer points.

  • Michael Nier

    This is really great! keep up the good work!

  • http://mpt.net.nz/ mpt

    Just to clear something up: We’re not “implementing application menus”. Doing that would indeed be copying Mac OS X, and I think it would be a bad idea for a bunch of reasons (for example, many windows in Ubuntu don’t belong to any obvious application).

    All we’re doing here is moving the menu bar from inside each window to the top panel. As I described in the design rationale Jono linked to, that presentation was used by several OSes, including the Lisa, Macintosh, Amiga, and TOS.

    Jef, I’ve never used Maemo, but the screenshot you linked doesn’t seem to show any menus at all. Where are they?

    js, as I described in the comments to the design rationale, I’ve specified how focus-follows-mouse could be made compatible with a global menu bar if anyone wants to implement that. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MenuBar#focus-follows-mouse

  • lampamp

    OMG! Now ubuntu is 90% mac!

    Next step, changing the name to Macbuntu.


  • Lester

    What about Firefox? Is it supported?

  • http://www.thetechandcents.com Alex Lourie

    Looks great!

    Now that I installed this and it didn’t work, how do I report problems?

  • http://mag.numop.us/ Music Teacher

    Alex, file bugs at https://bugs.launchpad.net/indicator-appmenu

    Before you do, read through the wiki page that Jono linked: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DesktopExperienceTeam/ApplicationMenu

  • Calum

    @Akshat: “Hey,Let me remind you this wasn’t a mac feature it was on amiga first”

    No it wasn’t. The Apple Lisa (1983) and the Apple Mac (1984) both had this type of menu bar, and both pre-date the first Commodore Amiga (1985).

  • Calum

    Does the menu bar really appear half way across the screen, rather than at the left edge? That looks kind of weird/ugly (and makes it harder to hit the first menu, of course.)

  • http://people.gnome.org/~bratsche Cody Russell

    Calum, no. That screenshot was taken on my 30″ monitor. There’s no convenient place to put the menubar when your panel stretches out to infinity.

    These application menus are not intended to be for the Maverick desktop, they’re for Maverick UNE. There are a lot of problems with doing it on the desktop: 1/ we can’t really put app menus on the left side because you’ve got Applications/Places/System menus followed by application launchers. 2/ Putting it on the right doesn’t make sense either, as you pointed out. 3/ there are crazy people with 30? monitors out there, and global app menus don’t make sense on large monitors like that.

    Jono is just doing a call for testing here. We’ve got a gnome-panel applet to make it easier to test with since not everyone uses UNE. If you want to help test, install the fu and put it in your gnome-panel. But this applet is only intended to help test app menus, it’s not something that will be installed by default in Maverick.

  • Daniel

    Such kind of menu is old. Amiga-OS has ist since it exists.

  • Sugarfoot

    my farmville on facebook will not load . it stops at theend but won’t open up farmville . ben almost 2 weeks since i have ben on there because it won’t open . what is wrong . ???