words of wisdom from a systems engineer

Launch applications quickly with dmenu in XFCE

Ever since I saw QuickSilver for the first time, I’ve been hooked on quick application launchers. I’ve struggled to find a barebones, auto-completing application launcher in Linux for quite some time. My search has ended with dmenu.

I stumbled upon dmenu after trying out the i3 tiling window manager and I was hooked almost immediately. It’s extremely fast, unobtrusive, and the auto-completion is really intuitive. Another added bonus is that there is no daemon or window manager hook required for the launcher to operate.

Installing dmenu on Fedora is as easy as:

yum install dmenu

XFCE is my desktop environment of choice and the dmenu integration is pretty simple:

  • Applications Menu > Settings > Keyboard
  • Click the Application Shortcuts tab
  • Click Add
  • In the Command box, enter /usr/bin/dmenu and press OK
  • On the next screen, enter a key combination to launch dmenu (I use LCTRL-SPACE)
  • Click OK

From now on, you can press your key combination and start typing the name of any executable application in your path for dmenu to run. If you launch dmenu accidentally, just press ESC to close it.