Ubuntu System Panel Gives Quick Access To Your Applications

Damien Oh 12-01-2009

Ubuntu System Panel (USP) is a configurable Gnome launcher that you can add to your Ubuntu (and other Linux distros based on Gnome) panel for quick and easy access to the various applications and places.


When opened up, it displays a broad window containing various information about your computer. You can easily add shortcuts to your favorite applications/places, get information about your system resources or include frequently used tools (such as a calculator or reminders). You can either use it as a replacement for the existing menu bar, or as an additional tool to help you do things faster.

The default configuration of USP includes a User Info pane, System Management pane, Applications pane and the Recent Documents pane. The System Management pane provides you with quick access to the Synaptic Package Manager and also the Control Center which contains all the system configuration options.

usp-gnome launcher

To add/configure items in the USP, you first have to right-click the mouse and then go to Preferences. The Preferences window contains many options that you can use to configure the USP to your liking.

gnome application launcher


The Main tab of the Preferences window contains most of the UI configurations for USP. This is also where you can add additional items/plugins to the main display window. USP supports the use of plugins to extend its functionality. The installation package comes with a set of third-party plugins that you can use immediately. These plugins include a calculator, a calendar, a reminder, Firefox bookmarks, system resources, and many other useful stuff.

The image below shows the list of available plugins for USP.


Other than the functionality, USP also allows you to theme it up and beautify it. It uses the same GTK theme as the Gnome system, which means you can check out gnome-look for your favorite theme and use it on your USP.


To install the theme, you have to first install it on your Ubuntu (via System->Preferences->Appearance on the main menu), then specify the name of the theme on the USP’s Preferences window.

Here are some of the screenshots of some of the GTK themes on USP (Note that you can apply the GTK theme to the USP without having to change your system theme).




Installation of Ubuntu-System-Panel

USP is not found in the Ubuntu repository. You will have to grab the code from the developer’s site and install it manually. Luckily, the installation procedure is not too difficult.

First of all, you have to install the subversion and use it to download the latest version of USP onto your computer. In your terminal, type line by line:

sudo apt-get install subversion
svn checkout ubuntu-system-panel
cd ubuntu-system-panel

./usp_update install fresh

If you are running a 64 bit machine, run this extra command:


sudo cp /usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages/usp/plugins/

That’s it. To place the USP onto your panel, first refresh your panel

killall gnome-panel

Right-click your mouse on the top panel and select Add to Panel. Scroll down the list to find Ubuntu System Panel. Select and add it to the panel.


To uninstall, simply use the following command:

cd ubuntu-system-panel
./usp_update uninstall complete

What other ways do you use to improve the usability in your Ubuntu (Linux)? Any good alternative Gnome application launcher?

Image credit: pinguin_os [Broken URL Removed]

Related topics: GNOME Shell, Ubuntu.

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  1. arthur
    September 26, 2009 at 6:52 am

    for some reason:

    sudo cp /usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages/usp/plugins/

    doesn't work. The directory is there, though the file isn't :(

    Any ideas?

  2. fgfgfg
    January 14, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Yuck, I don't understand why someone would like to use panel like that. That's awful, messy and impractical.

  3. Ananth
    January 14, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Golly, thats a lot of options for configuration. Let me see how it works.

  4. Jorge Miramontes
    January 13, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    This one looks a lot if not the same as mint menu, the one that comes with Linux Mint. Wonder if some of the same people is involved in development.

  5. Vadim P.
    January 13, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    It's not a preference, it's a matter of good design. Look at how quickly can you find something in a neatly organized "menu bar", vs a mess of applications sorted by the order of install of their vendors in windows.

  6. Vadim P.
    January 13, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Imho, this thing is quite horrible. Very poorly designed, and seems just a copy of the Windows "start" bar - which wasn't boasting usability awards.

    My vote goes to Gnome DO if you want "quick access to your applications" and not a screen mess.

    • Damien Oh
      January 13, 2009 at 11:40 am

      The USP is meant to be a replacement app for the existing menu bar. As such, I feel that it is inappropriate to compare it with Gnome-Do as they are different in nature.

      When compared to the existing menu bar in Gnome, the USP does provide an easier and much faster way to access to your various applications. I do agree that it looks like Windows "start bar", but come to think of it, Windows has been using the same type of "Start bar" since Win 95, and KDE also uses the same type of Start bar, so there is really nothing bad about this form of design. It's all boils down to individual preferences.

  7. LifeLocksmith
    January 13, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Fantastic tool, anyone know how to assign the Windows key to bind with toggling the System Panel? I would also settle for Windows+Space

    Thanks for the cool app!

  8. Dirk Gently
    January 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Nice review. I hadn't come by this before. Gnome menu is in dire need of updating. Do you know is this a planned replacement for it?

    • Damien Oh
      January 13, 2009 at 1:31 am

      I don't think so. It is not even found in the repository, so I don't think this is a planned replacement.

  9. Mackenzie
    January 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    For someone not used to compiling or not used to using random snapshots of potentially-unstable software, I'm not sure pulling whatever happens to be at the head of trunk is the best idea. Aren't there any snapshot tarballs available?

    Maybe I'll test this out and package it tonight if today's head is in good shape...