Sunday, February 26, 2017

How to manually add a shortcut to the Applications slingshot menu

Occasionally you find apps online that you want to use on elementary, but for some reason after install, they don't show up in the Applications menu.

For instance I just installed the Intel Graphics Update tool for this post, but the tool didn't install an icon in Applications. Do not despair.

One of the cool things about elementary and Linux in general is that it is highly customizable with just a little know-how.

I'm going to go through the process for adding a shortcut to the Intel Graphics driver to the Applications menu, but the same general steps can be used for any program you want to add.

1. Navigate to your home folder, then right-click and tick "Show Hidden files"

2. Then click into .local, then share, then applications.

3. Within this folder right click, then select New, then Empty File

4. Name the file anything-you-want.desktop. In this case, I named it intel.desktop

5. Then Open that file in Scratch (Right-click, Open in Scratch).

6. Paste the following in the file:
[Desktop Entry]

NOTE: These are just a few entries that can go into a .desktop file. There are many others that I have seen, but the ones here are the most common and will get the job done.

Name= Just put here whatever you want to call the file. For this example, I'm putting Intel Driver Update Tool

Exec= In this line, you want to put the command you would run in the terminal to open the program. For this example, I'll put: intel-graphics-update-tool

Comment= This is the place for a general descriptor that will display when you hover your mouse over the icon. Doesn't really matter what you put (or you could omit it entirely). I'll just put Update utility for Intel Graphics Driver

Icon= Add the path to the image you wish to display for the icon. In this case, the installer saved one here /usr/share/intel-graphics-update-tool/images/logo.png but it could be a path to anywhere on the system.

Version= Input the version of the program (or omit it.)

Type= I have always seen Application here.

Categories= Add here the categories that the application will appear in in Category view in the Applications

In this case I'll just add it to System Tools by adding System; to that line. So for my example, the completed file should look like this:

7. Save the file.

8. Now if you click on Applications and start typing "Intel" or click on the System Tools Category, you'll see the Intel Graphics tool. Click on it, and it will run!

Updating Intel graphics drivers in elementary

If you're running elementary on a machine with an Intel graphics chip (like my beloved System76 meerkat), you'll want to keep the graphics drivers up to date to make sure you're getting the most out of your system.

As far as I know there is no easy way to do this via the App Center or in System Settings, so you'll have to download it from the Intel website and install it yourself. It's easy enough to do (after all I did it) by doing the following:

 Before attempting this, you need to make sure you have gdebi package manager installed. You can get it from the App Center.

2. Then navigate to

3. Download the driver file: Intel® Graphics Update Tool 2.0.2 for Ubuntu* 16.04, 64-bit

 Unpack the .deb file using gdebi

5. If you run the tool now, it will throw an error because it is configured to update Ubuntu only, not Ubuntu derivitaves.

We need to trick it into thinking we're running Ubuntu even though we are not. Don't worry, this is just temporary.

6. In the terminal, run sudo scratch-text-editor /etc/lsb-release
6(a). pop in your password

7. Scratch will then run the lsb-release file, which should look like this:
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="elementary OS 0.4 Loki"

8. Then modify that file with the following text:

9. Ctrl+S and exit Scratch. Now you're ready to run the update.

10. The update tool DOES NOT put an icon in the slingshot menu (although you could make one), so you'll have to run it from the terminal by entering intel-graphics-update-tool

 Pop in your password

 Click Begin

 Click Install

14. The utility will then go pull down the updates and install it. Once that's done, just click Close:
15. It will then prompt you to reboot. Click NO for the moment. We're going to go back and fix the lsb-release file first.

16. In the terminal, run sudo scratch-text-editor /etc/lsb-release
16(a). pop in your password

17. Scratch will then run the lsb-release file. Select all the text (Ctrl+a) and paste in the following:
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="elementary OS 0.4 Loki"

18. Ctrl+S and exit Scratch. Now reboot and you should be good to go!!