Another Look at Gnome Menu Bar Alternatives

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After reading a post yesterday that talked about replacing the Gnome’s built-in menu applet, I began thinking why not try out the replacements for my lead-weighted Gnome Menu Bar. One of the few expectancies I have of Gnome or any other UI is to respond nearly instantly to menu selections, and to have all common selections in one interface. Gnome Menu Bar has a hiccup to it so I’d thought I’d take a look at what else is being developed.

Reading Johan’s Blog it’s pointed out that there are really only two alternatives to Gnome’s Menu Bar: slab from Novell/Suse (aka Gnome Main Menu) and Gimmie, but there is also a third: Ubuntu System Panel.

Gimmie

Gimmie reminds me alot of an application called dragthing way back on Mac OS:

To install for Gentoo users, Gimmie has an ebuild that’s handy to build Gimmie with. Those that don’t want the extaraneous crud that comes with Gentoo’s gnome-python-desktop, emerging “gnome-python-desktop --nodeps -1” isn’t a problem. Gimmie installed fine after adding four or five dependencies.

Gimmie can be used as a panel applet or a separate dock, but the dock I found obstructive and too big so I’m just covering the panel applet.

Gimmie comes by default colored like a Miami night club, “Hello ladies.” But I’m glad there’s an option to not always have it on. They still hover green, blue, pink… but no big deal I guess.

The People and Library tabs contain contacts and the documents most often used. I didn’t look into these very much as I have my own way of organizing ppl and files but they seem like they can be pretty handy.

The Programs tab is what I would most use Gimmie for and it’s categorized conviently like Gnome Menu Bar.

The Linux tab contains everything else, control panels, places, devices and media.

Gimmie has about everything I need and is fast though not as fast as I would like as the rollover effects hang a bit.

  • + quick responsive
  • + nice variation of features
  • - rollover slight drag
  • - big big
  • ? “Linux Tab”?
  • ? Tomboy Notes support?

Slab a.k.a Gnome Main Menu

Suse’s custom Gnome menu has an ebuild for it too. I downloaded the ebuild (and all the patches), and updated 02-configure.in-remove-gtk-doc.patch which was outdated.

Gnome Main Menu feels like a trimmed down version of Gimmie and works exactly as it was designed to do: a lighter replacement for Gnome’s Menu Bar. It does take the same load time though (5 to 10 seconds) but once it does it’s nice and responsive. Gnome Main Menu has no applications setup by default – favorites must be added manually. I was hoping applications would get added by the frequency they are used but no luck. So I added my favorites and found that its really nice to be able to start these applications as quickly as I did. Despite this feature being really useful it also becomes a crutch as any applications that are not favorites had to be opened through launching a second window. Gnome Main Menu also creates a folder called Documents in my home directory. Not good. I have my own way of organizing my documents so this didn’t make me happy.

GMM is good in the basics. I like GMM’s hover buttons that give one click behavior over Gimmies double click one. Also, GMM has no preferences which surprisingly didn’t’ disturb me at all as it was well configured.

  • + Light, fast, mean and trim.
  • + easy to learn and use
  • - big size
  • - Document folder – oh boy.

Ubuntu System Panel

I haven’t tried USP but some people really like it. I’ll refer you to makeuseof for the review.

Conclusion

If I were to choose between the two, it would depend on my situation. Gimmie could be useful to beginners who could be sedated by finding most of what they need in the menu while GMM just works nice for basic (8-10) app users that don’t need the frills and likes the speed.

For now though… I’m sticking with Gnome’s Menu Bar. Though it doesn’t preload the menu and sometimes loses the cached icons its still the quickest way I can get to all the apps I need.

Quick Tip: Gnome Menu Bar has a built-in delay when sliding over categories. Add to or create a ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file and add:

vim ~/.gtkrc-2.0
gtk-menu-popup-delay = 0"| tee -a .gtkrc-2.0

for a lower menu delay (does cause a harmless gtk warning)

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About Gen2ly

<3's linux

Posted on 2008-03-05, in Gentoo, GNOME, Linux. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    the problem with Novell/slab is that is very tight integrated in Opensuse, and that using it in other distro’s does not give the full functionality. In opensuse, for example, you do have your 2 last opened applications in the menu, and you do get a search bar on top of the applet.

    There is also a thirt option, the mint-menu, used in linux-mint (there is a ubuntu version called irie-menu). Witch looks a bit like Slab, but does not has the application browser, for opening programs not in your favorites, it scrolls through them gimmie-like.

  2. Actually, there’s another option; the Ubuntu System Panel, or USP. It’s a lot like slab, but done in python.

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=222546

    I tried getting that thing working once, but the python ebuild writing and version mismatches got the best of me.

  3. Hi
    did u try the new gimmie from svn
    its still in development
    but its pretty cool
    it integrates alot of webapps
    such ass facebook
    youtube
    flickr
    delicious

    and also it supports evolution contacts

    cheers
    Seif

  4. Another good one is this, though it still has a few rendering issues.

    Gnome vista menu

  5. The Slab Menu has many many many defects, my dear mouse-clicker,…

    In the firt place it is slower to do things with it than with the comon menus in gnome. Not only to find things but to find out things, understand, learn,…. It is closed.
    It has a lot of wasted empty space and that’s why it is so BIGGG.
    If you want to find what’s the real name of an application (which is usual ecause they never use the real name) in the menus, you need to drag the icon to the desktop, right-click on the new icon, go to properties, close and then move the new icon to the tray… UUHH!!
    Why are the games at the top of the list if they are what I use less??…UHHH?
    Why are there so many instances of the same application. That akes it dificult to find them… and why are they so stupidly classified?? UHH!!

    Why are there recent applications, recent documents but no recent places??
    Whay can’t I choose how many recent applications, places and documents I want to have?
    Why isn’t there a button to edit it, erase the recent items, and lock it?? THAT’S THE FIRST LESSON YOU LEARN when ou learn how to build an application!

    Add, modify and Delete,
    Add, modify and Delete,
    Add, modify and Delete;
    Add, modify and Delete,……

    And last, but not least, the lists of recent items and the lists of favurite items should be SCROLLABLE!!!

    Bye bye!

    The Slab Menu has many many many defects, my dear mouse-clicker,…

    In the firt place it is slower to do things with it than with the comon menus in gnome. Not only to find things but to find out things, understand, learn,…. It is closed.
    It has a lot of wasted empty space and that’s why it is so BIGGG.
    If you want to find what’s the real name of an application (which is usual ecause they never use the real name) in the menus, you need to drag the icon to the desktop, right-click on the new icon, go to properties, close and then move the new icon to the tray… UUHH!!
    Why are the games at the top of the list if they are what I use less??…UHHH?
    Why are there so many instances of the same application. That akes it dificult to find them… and why are they so stupidly classified?? UHH!!

    Why are there recent applications, recent documents but no recent places??
    Whay can’t I choose how many recent applications, places and documents I want to have?
    Why isn’t there a button to edit it, erase the recent items, and lock it?? THAT’S THE FIRST LESSON YOU LEARN when ou learn how to build an application!

    Add, modify and Delete,
    Add, modify and Delete,
    Add, modify and Delete;
    Add, modify and Delete,……

    And last, but not least, the lists of recent items and the lists of favurite items should be SCROLLABLE!!!

    Bye bye!

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