GLEP 16: Gentoo Menu System

Author Heinrich Wendel <>
Type Standards Track
Status Deferred
Version 1
Created 2003-09-09
Last modified 2014-01-17
Posting history 2003-10-04, 2003-12-11, 2003-12-13, 2004-05-04, 2004-11-11
GLEP source glep-0016.rst


A graphical application that should be listed in the menus.
A program containing a menu manager (i.e. a program that can display a menu, e.g. a windowmanager).


This GLEP handles a proposal for the following two goals:

  • Create a common menu layout, which would be independent of the WM. This point is quite important for those people who use more than one WM.
  • Provide a common way to add applications to the menus.


Timed out (and now subsumed by the gentoo-desktop top-level project)


GNOME, KDE, Fluxbox, to name only a few, have all their own ways of handling menus. There have been several requests [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] from users to streamline these menus. Furthermore there are several bug reports about applications not having a menu entry [7], but since there is not standard way to create such an entry, they are just sitting around in bugzilla.


The idea of a common menu system is not new to the Linux world, every big distribution (Debian, Mandrake, RedHat, Suse) has such a system. The big DE's, KDE and GNOME, with the help of [8], are also trying to implement one standard. That will most likely happen in GNOME 2.6 and KDE 3.2 (Currently they are only implementing different versions of the desktop-entry-spec, but interpreting it in an incompatible way). But there are still many other WM's that currently don't support these specs. So we are trying to base our work on the specifications GNOME and KDE are going to use. (These are no official standards but evolving specifications). This has the following advantages:

  • follow specified standards
  • i18n support
  • provide the necessary flexibility and modularity
  • integrate with small changes to our ebuild tree.
  • support for per system and per user menus


We are trying to follow these specifications:

  • Desktop Entry Specification [9]
  • Menu Specification [10]
  • Icon Theme Specification [11]

There are two libraries that offer an API to these specifications:

  • PyXDG [12] (written in python)
  • Desktop File Utils [13] (written in C)

Our goal is to patch the WM's with the help of these libraries to support the specifications. APP's then only have to install a .desktop entry [9] and optionally an icon and will be listed in all menus. This installation could easily be done by two portage commands (domenu, doicon).

Implementation / Status

This GLEP exists for a long time now, still it is not accepted. I will outline the current status:

  • KDE 3.2 (x86) supports this specification
  • GNOME 2.6 (~x86) supports this specification
  • domenu[12] has to be included in portage to be used by the ebuilds to install a desktop entry
  • Somebody needs to write patches for the other WM's:

We should focus on adding support to the following WM's first:

  • xfce, blackblox / fluxbox / openbox / waimea / kahakai, icewm
  • fvwm, windowmaker, enlightment, afterstep

The following are not so important, but support some kind of applications menu:

  • aewm / aewm++ / evilwm / windowlab / oroborus, amiwm, ctwm, flwm
  • golem, larswm, pekwm, plwm, pwm, qvwm, selectwm, treewm, trwm
  • vtwm, xpde


Based on suggestions from former discussions on the gentoo bugzilla, mailinglists and forums.