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Making a Unity launcher icon for the IDL Workbench


I recently upgraded my Ubuntu Linux distribution from 10.04 LTS to 12.04 LTS. Although I’ve used GNOME for the last decade+, I’m adjusting fairly quickly to the Unity desktop environment. However, one thing that wasn't apparent is how to add an icon for the IDL Workbench to the launcher. This is easy to do in GNOME, and, as it turns out, it’s not very hard to do in Unity. With a little googling, I found this helpful example of adding a Netbeans IDE icon to the Unity launcher, which I’ve adapted for IDL. Start by creating a file idlde.desktop with your favorite text editor and adding the following lines to the file (syntax highlighting courtesy Emacs):

 [Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Name=IDL 8.2 Comment=Start the IDL Workbench Exec=/bin/sh "/usr/local/exelis/idl82/bin/idlde" Icon=/usr/local/exelis/idl82/idlde/plugins/com.rsi.idldt_8.2.0/icons/idlde64.png Categories=Application;Development;IDL;IDE Version=8.2 Type=Application Terminal=0

A Unity launcher icon for the IDL Workbench

Save the file. From Nautilus, drag-n-drop the file onto the Unity launcher. That’s it! You now have a Unity launcher icon for the IDL Workbench (see the screenshot from my laptop). Click on the icon to start the Workbench. Note that if you delete the .desktop file, the launcher icon disappears, so keep it in a safe place; e.g., /usr/share/applications.