Linux

Searching with GNOME Do

Vincent Danen introduces GNOME Do, an application-launching utility, similar to Mac's Launchbar, which features a number of plugins that boost its usability and efficiency.

One of my favourite applications for Mac OS X is Launchbar, an indispensable application-launching utility. With it, you hit a hotkey command (such as COMMAND-SPACE) and Launchbar appears, ready to offer suggestions for applications or files as you type.

Now, on Linux, a similar application is available, called GNOME Do. GNOME Do (or Do, for short) allows you to quickly search for items that are present in your GNOME desktop environment. While it was written for GNOME, it is still just as useful on KDE or other desktop environments.

Do is available in some Linux distribution repositories, but it is still a fairly new application and many distributions have not yet packaged it. It is available for Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and perhaps a few other distributions. For those who use a distribution that does not provide it, it can be built from source using common toolkits and development libraries. Instructions for building from source are available at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/GnomeDo/Installation. It took a little effort to install the requisite development libraries on Mandriva, but all were provided with the distribution.

With Do, you press the hotkey combination (SUPER-SPACE, by default; the SUPER key being the Windows key on most keyboards). A window then pops up where you begin typing. It will offer completed suggestions based on what you type; for instance, to open the Terminal, simply type "t" and Terminal is the first thing to pop up. Press [Enter] to launch it. If the first suggestion Do provides is not what you are looking for, continue typing the name. For instance, to load Pidgin, it was necessary to type "pi" as simply typing "p" offered the Pop-up notification settings application.

By opening the Do preferences, you can customize how Do looks and whether or not to start it at login. You can also customize the hotkey to activate Do.

Finally, in the Do preferences are a number of plugins that can be enabled, and the list is quite impressive. With Do, you can have it index a number of different sources to be made available for searching. Some of the plugins include searching of Delicious tags, files in specific directories, Firefox bookmarks, Evolution contacts, Gmail contacts, Google Maps, Google Calculator (which allows you to perform calculations and conversions in the Do window), Pidgin buddy lists, and a lot more. These plugins really take the usability of Do beyond just an application launcher.

GNOME Do may have some rough edges yet. The current version is 0.6.0, but it works extremely well. Hopefully more distributions will package Do as these types of file/application launchers are immense time-savers.

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About

Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

7 comments
---TK---
---TK---

It looks like just another version of AWN.... Ill give it a shot... but as far as hitting SuperKey+space then typing "t"... wouldn't it be just as easy as to hit Ctrl+ALT+F1 throught F6?....? Or maybe I am a little old school....

vdanen
vdanen

After writing this, I found that GNOME Do was added to the Mandriva 2009 repository, so it is available out-of-the-box with the latest Mandriva (just not for 2008.1 which I was using at the time I wrote this).

Lord Deonast
Lord Deonast

Ah it seems Launchy that I use on windows has a version for linux also, I can't say how good it is on linux but it is very nice on windows. http://www.launchy.net

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Thanks for this, it does work very well and I may find I start using this instead of menus or even panel launchers. This app has been created with a nice polish to it. It works well and looks just a nice. Often programmers take for granted the visual appeal and opt for pure function, this app seems to have both.

chadotter
chadotter

Katapult is a KDE3 based alternative that predates Gnome Do. For KDE4 users Katapult still works fine, but I find that KRunner is a powerful substitute. In addition to launching applications, I find these apps very useful as a quick and simple calculator. Chad http://linuxappfinder.com http://feedsanywhere.com

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

Oh well, I tried and here's what I did. First I went to the website https://wiki.ubuntu.com/GnomeDo/Installation to download the dependencies like so: #yum install automake bzr mono-gmcs libmono-cairo2.0-cil gtk-sharp2 libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil libndesk-dbus1.0-cil libgnome-vfs2.0-cil libgtk2.0-dev libtool intltool gnome-sharp2 ca-certificates bazaar gnome-keyring-sharp-cli gnome-desktop-sharp2 libnotify0.4-cil Loading "fastestmirror" plugin Loading "priorities" plugin Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile * base: mirror.raystedman.net * updates: centos-distro.cavecreek.net * addons: mirrors.easynews.com * extras: mirrors.gigenet.com 0 packages excluded due to repository priority protections Setting up Install Process Parsing package install arguments No package bzr available. No package mono-gmcs available. No package libmono-cairo2.0-cil available. No package libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil available. No package libndesk-dbus1.0-cil available. No package libgnome-vfs2.0-cil available. No package libgtk2.0-dev available. No package gnome-sharp2 available. No package ca-certificates available. No package bazaar available. No package gnome-keyring-sharp-cli available. No package gnome-desktop-sharp2 available. No package libnotify0.4-cil available. Resolving Dependencies --> Running transaction check ---> Package libtool.i386 0:1.5.22-6.1 set to be updated --> Processing Dependency: autoconf >= 2.50 for package: libtool ---> Package gtk-sharp2.i386 0:2.10.0-6.el5.centos set to be updated --> Processing Dependency: mono(Mono.Cairo) = 1.0.5000.0 for package: gtk-sharp2 --> Processing Dependency: mono(System) = 1.0.5000.0 for package: gtk-sharp2 --> Processing Dependency: mono(mscorlib) = 1.0.5000.0 for package: gtk-sharp2 --> Processing Dependency: mono(System.Drawing) = 1.0.5000.0 for package: gtk-sharp2 ---> Package intltool.i386 0:0.35.0-2 set to be updated --> Processing Dependency: perl-XML-Parser for package: intltool ---> Package automake.noarch 0:1.9.6-2.1 set to be updated --> Running transaction check ---> Package autoconf.noarch 0:2.59-12 set to be updated --> Processing Dependency: imake for package: autoconf ---> Package mono-core.i386 0:1.2.4-2.el5.centos set to be updated --> Processing Dependency: libgdiplus for package: mono-core ---> Package perl-XML-Parser.i386 0:2.34-6.1.2.2.1 set to be updated --> Running transaction check ---> Package libgdiplus.i386 0:1.2.5-1.el5.centos set to be updated ---> Package imake.i386 0:1.0.2-3 set to be updated --> Finished Dependency Resolution Dependencies Resolved ============================================================================= Package Arch Version Repository Size ============================================================================= Installing: gtk-sharp2 i386 2.10.0-6.el5.centos extras 691 k intltool i386 0.35.0-2 base 117 k libtool i386 1.5.22-6.1 base 680 k Installing for dependencies: autoconf noarch 2.59-12 base 647 k automake noarch 1.9.6-2.1 base 484 k imake i386 1.0.2-3 base 319 k libgdiplus i386 1.2.5-1.el5.centos extras 387 k mono-core i386 1.2.4-2.el5.centos extras 11 M perl-XML-Parser i386 2.34-6.1.2.2.1 base 210 k Transaction Summary ============================================================================= Install 9 Package(s) Update 0 Package(s) Remove 0 Package(s) Total download size: 15 M Is this ok [y/N]: y Downloading Packages: (1/9): perl-XML-Parser-2. 100% |=========================| 210 kB 00:06 (2/9): gtk-sharp2-2.10.0- 100% |=========================| 691 kB 00:05 (3/9): mono-core-1.2.4-2. 36% |========= | 4.1 MB 00:22 ETA ^(4/9): imake-1.0.2-3.i386 100% |=========================| 104 kB 00:03 http://mirror.raystedman.net/centos/5.2/os/i386/CentOS/imake-1.0.2-3.i386.rpm: [Errno 4] Socket Error: (11, 'Resource temporarily unavailable') Trying other mirror. (4/9): imake-1.0.2-3.i386 100% |=========================| 319 kB 00:01 (5/9): intltool-0.35.0-2. 100% |=========================| 117 kB 00:00 (6/9): autoconf-2.59-12.n 100% |=========================| 647 kB 00:01 (7/9): libgdiplus-1.2.5-1 100% |=========================| 387 kB 00:01 (8/9): automake-1.9.6-2.1 100% |=========================| 484 kB 00:01 (9/9): libtool-1.5.22-6.1 100% |=========================| 680 kB 00:01 [root@localhost someguyhere]# Since there was no rpm for centOS at an RPM search here http://rpm.pbone.net/index.php3/stat/26/dist/0/size/460350/name/gnome-do-0.4.0.1-1.fc9.src.rpm; I attempted to use Fedora Core 9's rpm. No luck! The end result seen here: # rpm -ivh gnome-do-0.4.0.1-1.fc9.src.rpm warning: gnome-do-0.4.0.1-1.fc9.src.rpm: Header V3 DSA signature: NOKEY, key ID 4f2a6fd2 error: cannot create %sourcedir /usr/src/redhat/SOURCES # I'm not to keen on modifying the program at a lower level to make the source rpm work with my distro. I guess I'll have to wait. Forcing it to install with a --nodeps option isn't acceptable. I want to know that the program is compatible for my OS. It sounded like a fun program to use too! Shucks!!

gwainwright
gwainwright

Thanks for the article Vincent. I haven't installed Do yet, but it sounds similar to the Alt + F2 launcher. I've been using that for a while, so I can't remember if I had to set something up, or if it was stock on my Debian machine.

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