Another look at GNOME menu bar alternatives


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.


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

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

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.


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)