So why am I talking about alternatives? Because I am about to present one! Almost all distributions offers a default Application Launcher menu. Then you can use various other docks as we have shown you previously. Another very slick application menu is the GnoMenu. GnoMenu is a highly customizable application launcher. Let us see what all it can do.
GnoMenu was originally conceived to emulate the Windows Start Menu but it has grown a lot bigger than that. The theme engine supports nice fresh looking themes and supports transparency even if compositing is turned off or not supported on your configuration.
GnoMenu is not listed in the Ubuntu Repositories. So you will have to add the PPA. Karmic and Lucid users can use the add-apt-repository ppa:gnomenu-team command to add the repository to your software sources in a single step. If you are using another non-debian based distribution you can always compile from source. Now just issue the apt-get install gnomenu command and you have got GnoMenu application menu on your system.
Once installed you can access GnoMenu through the Add to Panel dialog. Just right click on a panel and choose Add to Panel. Look for the GnoMenu listing and add it to the panel. Right away you will see the GnoMenu icon on the panel. Click on it and it gives you access to applications, places and the system menu.
By default GnoMenu application menu uses the KDE start menu (Lancelot) theme. You can change this easily and choose from amongst the many themes that are available. GnoMenu comes with a collection of about 10 or so themes, however you can download many more at Gnome-look, which has a separate category for GnoMenu themes.
GnoMenu lets you customize the theme, button and the icons for the menu. Plenty of options are available for each of them. Right click on the GnoMenu button and choose preferences from where you can customize GnoMenu’s look.
GnoMenu is not all eye-candy, it offers plenty of other options as well. For instance you can change bind custom shortcuts to bring up GnoMenu, choose how the programs are listed, number of programs in the list and many more.
The commands tab in GnoMenu settings allow you to customize the commands that you want to run when a particular item on the menu is clicked. If for example you are using wicd for network management, you can tell GnoMenu to run wicd when Network Config is clicked.
GnoMenu is a very nice addition to your panel. Not only does it offer eye candy for your Linux desktop, it does so pretty well. You can use themes that use transparency even if you have compositing disabled or your computer just doesn’t have the required juice. It can also be used with cairo dock, avant window navigator and xfapplet. The only downside that comes to the mind is that you cannot drag items to or from GnoMenu taking away some flexibility and intuitiveness. Other than that you can use it in place of the standard Application menu on your distribution any time.
What application menu or docks do you prefer to use on your Linux computer? Tell us about them in the comments.