GNOME Do: The King of Launchers

Do it with Do

I have to admit that I am an occasional couch potato. I sometimes lay way back into the arms of the armchair (sic) with just my keyboard, especially when I'm reading a long text, watch some video or just browse a page or two; and life is good. Life stops being good when the text/movie is over and I have to use the mouse, a task that obviously makes me leave the comfortable position in order to reach the e-rodent. Well, those inconveniences are now a thing of the past thanks to an awesome little application and its plugins. Inspired from Mac OS' Spotlight feature, GNOME Do will let you do almost anything using just your keyboard. And, despite its name, GNOME Do will work just as well on other popular desktop environments too.

The main chore that you'll want to be handled via the GNOME Do is opening applications. Summon it with Super (or Windows Logo key)+Space, type a few letters and in a blink of an eye it will start guessing the program you want to launch. And not only does it guess but it can also learn. Let's say you want to open Thunderbird; you start typing the first two letters and it will guess that you want to start the theme manager. Type a few more letters and you'll eventually get to Thunderbird. Well, here comes the learning ability. The next time you summon GNOME Do, it will remember that you wanted Thunderbird the first time so its main suggestion will be Thunderbird based on the same two letters. Cool! And, if there are more applications or actions with similar names you can press the down key and get a drop-down window with all the suggested applications so you can choose from there.

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You want to control your volume from the keyboard and you have no multimedia keys? Enable your volume control plugin in GNOME Do's preferences and the next time your mouse is out of reach, Super+Space and type "volume up" or "volume down." You want to chat with a buddy using Pidgin? Again, Super+Space, start typing the ID and in a few moments you'll have it in GNOME Do's window together with the assigned avatar, awaiting an "Enter" keystroke to begin the conversation. Translations, word definitions, Rhythmbox controls, Firefox bookmarks, notes, RSS, Remember the Milk To-Dos and many more are available via this nifty portal. Oh, did I mention you can post to Twitter using GNOME Do? This is an awesome time saver for all you Twittaholics out there.
The recently released 0.8.0 version fixes a lot of bugs, adds 20 new plugins, animated themes and a dock by the name of Docky. I am really not a big dock fan so I'm not too excited about that, but it looks and behaves OK. As Firefox, GNOME Do's power stands in the official and community-provided plugins, a database that is sure to grow exponentially. If you want to skim through more of the currently available plugins, here they are:
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· Alias

· AptURL Package Installer

· Banshee

· Bibtex

· ClawsMail

· Confluence

· Disk Mounter

· Epiphany

· Evolution

· Firefox

· Flickr

· GNOME Session Management

· Google Search

· Imageshack

· Opera

· Pastebin

· Ping.FM

· Putty

· Read Manual Pages

· Quote

· Skype

· System Services

· Thunderbird

· TinyUrl

· Tomboy

· Vinagre VNC

· VirtualBox

· Window Manager

· Woof!

· xmms2

Being a pre 1.0 app, you should expect a few glitches and crashes every once in a while. Also, if you want more themes and the Docky, you must have Compiz enabled. Sadly, when you have the effects turned on, GNOME Do will force all the icons to occupy its whole window, even if there are no high-resolution versions available for them, leading to some big ugly pixels.

How do I install it?

I am currently using GNOME Do on a Ubuntu 8.10 machine. Though you can find it in the repositories, it will not be the latest 0.8.0 version. If you want it, you will have to add this line: "deb intrepid main", without the quotes, to your System -> Administration -> Software Sources, in the Third-Party Software tab. Also, you will have to import the corresponding OpenPGP key by pasting the text from this page into your editor, save it on the desktop, go to the Authentication tab in Software Sources, choose Import Key File, select the previously saved file, click OK and you're done. You should now be able to get the latest GNOME Do release through Synaptic. Alternatively, you can download the source tarball from Softpedia and compile it yourself.

Supported Linux Distributions:

· openSUSE

· Foresight

· Fedora

· Ubuntu

· Debian

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In the end, I'm pretty sure this little app will continue to gain popularity. The developers only need to keep it simple, intuitive and fast. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose!

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