No "run" menu item?

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at
Fri Jul 4 22:35:50 UTC 2008

> > But that's not a solution. People migrating from Windows probably will 
> > expect to have such a feature in the menu, not somewhere else. And I 
> > don't think they would search for it in the applets.
> > There is a Gnome bug filed about it:
> >
> I've never actually seen a Windows user use it.  They usually seem to
> prefer hunting through the Start Menu, except when tech support tells
> them to go to the Run thing and type "cmd" and hit Enter.

I agree with that thought. The Run menu makes sense in Windows because
the Control Panel is impossibly huge, and I doubt even its developers
remember where things are in there -- or what is and is not present. The
option to turn on auto logon in Windows Vista, as I recently learned, is
no longer in the Control Panel; the appropriate graphical tool to
configure that is accessed by an obscure command typed into the Run
dialog. I understand that msconfig is in there somewhere, but I have
strong doubts that any mortal has ever found it. It is probably easier
to mash the keyboard until "msconfig" comes out than it is to find that
thing in Redmond's disaster of a configuration system.

On the other hand, I do not encounter people using the Run Application
dialog very often because GNOME's configuration system is tidily
organized. It takes very few clicks to get to anything in there, from
the startup processes to the language settings. Furthermore, it can all
be accessed immediately from the System menu.

Typing an obscure command to open a program that should be helpful is
not good interface design. I think by adding a Run menu, that particular
malpractice would be unhappily encouraged, as seems to have occurred
with Windows. I like to think that this is not about making things easy
for tech support, but making tech support unnecessary.
It should also be pointed out that the .desktop standard has the effect
that everything which calls itself an "application" (the
usr/share/applications kind) appears in the menu. Anything that doesn't
call itself an application is doing it wrong or not meant to be found. I
do not believe our command-line-loving competitors have any similar
system in place.

My favourite use for the Run Application dialog is to create launchers.
(Which is pretty cool. Just type a command, then drag the icon!). I
suppose that hints at its scope: It serves to speed things up for geeks
who are excited whenever another GTK widget becomes drag & droppable and
who are sensitive to the extra time it takes to launch a terminal. It is
an extra fast launcher, rewarding to those who remember the paths to
programs they use. (One extra hotkey isn't a problem for those types).

I would be disappointed if it needed to become more than that.


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