What can I do when apt-get/aptitude doesn't create a menu item for an installed program?

Obviously, this question is specific to Debian-based setups.

I find that, often, packages I install using aptitude or apt-get only say that a menu item has been created. No menu item actually appears. Obviously, I can create one myself, but that requires knowing what the binary was actually called (in many cases different from the package name). There must be a simple way to know which directories things have been installed in.


  1. Does anyone know why the creation of menu entries fails?
  2. How can I get info about where the binaries reside/what they’re called, in order to create my own menu entry?
Asked By: ixtmixilix


You can use:

dpkg -L package-name-goes-here

…to have a list of files that have been installed by the specific package. If you just want executable files:

for file in `dpkg -L package-name-goes-here`
  if [ -x $file -a ! -d $file ] # must be executable, but not a directory.
    echo $file

Here’s a naively, hastily written script that does the above. Usage: exec-files-from-package [package].

Answered By: badp

If you see a message telling you that a menu entry has been created, it means the package has dropped a file into /usr/share/menu describing one or more menu entry, as per the Debian menu policy. The documentation of the menu system (also available in /usr/share/doc/menu) explains the syntax of this file. Each window manager is supposed to include the system menu. Gnome doesn’t do the standard thing, though (so what else is new).

Gnome and KDE show a menu constructed from entries in /usr/share/applications/*.desktop and /usr/share/applnk/**/*.desktop, following the Freedesktop menu specification. Not all packages provide those. You can create a .desktop file based on the Debian entries and put it in ~/.config/menus/.

Quick way to find the binaries: dpkg -L $pkg |grep bin/.

Answered By: Tobu