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I have a GUI application which starts with a shell script. How can I create an icon in the Unity dock by providing the shell script and an .svg icon?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

You need to make a shortcut-file. Shortcuts for the Unity dock are located in ~/.local/share/applications/

  1. Create a file myGUIapp.desktop in that directory.

  2. Paste the following into that file (with correct paths for icon and shellscript):

    [Desktop Entry]
    Name=My GUI App

  3. Make the file executable:

    Right click -> Properties -> Permissions -> Tick ‘Allow executing as a program’

  4. Restart Unity (or drag the file to the Dock to get it there directly).

Look in other files in ~/.local/share/applications/ to get an idea of how they should look. More info is available in this blog entry.

If you want the shortcut to be accessable to all users you should check out Ubuntu packaging guide about icons.
Basically the .desktop-file are installed or moved to /usr/share/applications/<binary>.desktop instead and icons are placed in /usr/share/icons/hicolor/scalable/apps

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So my application should provide this file and the user should drag it to the Dock? Does the file allows to use relative paths for exec and icon? – Mike L. Oct 24 '11 at 10:20
Ah, I didn't catch that you were making an application for others to use. I have updated my answer to include that. – micke Oct 24 '11 at 13:32
Is there not a simple GUI app that can edit the Unity menu yet? – dave1010 May 1 '12 at 16:26
Yes there is! Quicklist Editor for Unity. It's not that stable yet. – micke May 1 '12 at 18:22

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