Verifying Categories lines

Mike Hearn mike at
Mon Jun 13 16:53:34 EEST 2005


One common class of bugs I've seen lately while trying out various
autopackages people have built is that despite shipping a .desktop file,
nothing appears in the menus.

Often the problem is that the Categories line is wrong. There
are a few different mistakes people make consistently:

* Typos like "Games" instead of "Game". That one is very common.

* Use of categories that are not allocated in the default GNOME menus
  and so land under "Other" which isn't really obvious.

* Use of categories that should put the menu into "Other" but lack the
  Application category so they don't appear at all.

And then there seem to be a few other issues:

* They're installed to /usr/local/share/applications and not detected.
  Actually these days autopackages always install to /usr for this sort
  of reason but it's an issue for source installs still.

* KDE seems to require a kbuildsycoca invocation after installing .desktop
  files. Is this still an issue for KDE 3.4?

I think partly this is just a matter of culture ... menus have been broken
for so long on Linux that developers and users no longer expect menu
items to appear, so this stuff never gets checked during testing or
development. Especially this is true because during testing usually you
install from source and this nearly never works because of /usr/local not
being merged. So when it doesn't work for binary packages nobody is

There are maybe a few ways to fix this.

1) Write a program that does basic sanity checking of the Categories line

2) Standardise on some menu layouts between KDE/GNOME so that people don't
   write a Categories line which matches for KDE but not GNOME or

3) Possibly expand the default menu layouts for the desktops so categories
   are more fine grained ... right now GNOME puts the GScore musical
   notation app (once fixed) under Other which isn't very helpful. A
   category dedicated to music would be nice. GNU Solfege, an ear training
   program, gets put under Edutainment which is reasonably appropriate,
   but that category has no icon.

Does anybody else have any ideas on how we can get third party apps to use
the menu correctly?

thanks -mike

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