Howto: USP setup + tips and tricks

July 12, 2007 at 10:48 am | Posted in tips and tricks, xubuntu | 11 Comments

As everyone knows, Xubuntu’s start menu is…lacking, to say the least. With this howto, you can get a menu that is comparable to KDE’s Kicker or GNOME’s Slab.

The program I will be using is called Ubuntu System Panel, which describes itself as a “Simple launcher for the GNOME desktop, providing easy access to Places, Applications and common configuration items for your computer”. Even though it is designed for GNOME, it can be easily set up for XFCE. Let’s get started!

1) First, open up a terminal and install what is needed to get USP running on Xubuntu:

sudo apt-get install subversion xfce4-xfapplet-plugin python-gnome2 python-gnome2-desktop python-gmenu python-pyinotify gnome-menus

2) Make a folder, and call it usp-svn:

mkdir usp-svn/

3) Go into that folder, and download USP:

cd usp-svn/
svn checkout ubuntu-system-panel

4) Now let’s install USP:

cd ubuntu-system-panel
./usp_update install

5) Now, we need to create a .usp folder in your home folder BEFORE running USP. To do that, run:

mkdir ~/.usp

If you plan to use the Places plugin, you should also run:

mkdir ~/.usp/places
touch ~/.usp/places/.gtk-bookmarks

6) Right-click the Xubuntu panel, and click “Add New Item”. Add the XfApplet plugin.
Afterwards, a window should pop up and give you the choice to add the Ubuntu System Panel. Make sure that you add it. USP will now appear in the panel.


To configure USP, run


a configuration window will pop up. Even though everything is GNOME-oriented, these tips will make it fit better in Xubuntu:

Under “Main”:

  • Change “USP Button Icon” to xubuntu-logo
  • Make sure “Hide Side Pane”, “Hide Stickied Headings”, and “Hide Border” are checked.
  • If you’d like to set the Windows key to open up the menu, set “USP Hotkey” to Super_L.
  • To make it look nicer on lower resolutions, reduce the number of number of plugins that are loaded. I have mine reduced to “applications”, “newpane”, “uspuser”, and “system_management”.

    To remove any plugins you don’t want, select it and click “Remove”. When you’re done, click “Save”.

Under “Applications”:

  • Make sure “Hide Vertical Separator” is checked. Set “Applications Width” to 200 and “Applications Height” to 270.
  • To enable searching, install Catfish, a GTK file searcher. It is in Feisty’s universe repo and can be installed as such:

    sudo apt-get install catfish

    Afterwards, change “Search Command” to

    catfish SEARCH_STRING

Under “User”:

  • Set “User Height” to 90 and “User Width” to 60. I also have “Hide User Name” and “Hide Logged On Date” checked, these are optional.

Under “System Management”:

  • Make sure “Hide Vertical Separator” is checked. Set “System Management Height” to 160 and “System Management Width” to 100.
  • Set “Install software” to gksu /usr/sbin/synaptic, “Control Center” to xfce-setting-show, “Lock Screen” to xflock4 and “Quit” to xfce4-session-logout.

You can also create your own set of shortcuts. To do so, go to “All Applications” under the “Applications” category, right click the shortcut you want and click “Add to Favorites”.

The end result should be something like this:


Feel free to make any changes as you see fit…but make sure to press the “Backup” button beforehand in case anything goes wrong.

Happy USPing!



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  1. A little too reminiscent of XP/Vista’s start menu. I like Xfce’s menu. It’s minimalist and customizable enough for me, but I can see why some people will want USP.

  2. Thanks for this. I am a linux newcomer, and chose xubuntu for efficency, even though I have a decent latop (thinkpad X60s). I have not been disappointed, and looking forward to learning more.

  3. As a Linux almost-newbie, can I make a request?

    Please pay attention to command lines that wrap when you post them on your blog. There isn’t a clear difference between a wrapped line and a new line, and it’s caught me out twice now.

    e.g. I typed in “svn checkout” – leaving out the rest of the line…

    I also need to pay more attention… but this is all way over my head so I’m mainly relying on what I read and copy.


  4. Not working…

    After the mistake I mentioned in the previous comment (did I break something?) I realized and then pasted the whole line into terminal, and continued, following all the instructions carefully. After a reboot I don’t see any menu.

    Any idea what went wrong?


  5. It looks beautiful!

  6. […] Original article from here. […]

  7. […] Original article from here. […]

  8. thanx a ton! ..just what I desired after I switched to xubuntu …ur blog is very useful 🙂

  9. how can i download and access USP (New version)

  10. […] Click here to see the tutorial | Via: Xubuntu Blog Posted by gettingstartedwithlinux Filed in Uncategorized Tags: panel, system, ubuntu, usp […]

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