Lancelot: An Alternative KDE Menu

Many KDE 3 users swear by the K menu and would dare anyone to challenge it with something better. Fortunately for those people, KDE 4 retained that menu version as an option. For the rest of us, there are a couple of more robust menus that offer a variety of features. Lancelot is a third-party menu that has now entered into the KDE fold. It is the one I use, and many others have found it pretty useful. In this post, I will present to you some of Lancelot’s features so that you can decide if it is right for you.

Setup

Lancelot is now part of KDE and should be available for installation in any KDE-based distribution (or distributions with the option for full KDE installation). To enable it:

1. Right click on the desktop or panel and click “Unlock Widgets”.
2. Right click on your current menu and click “Remove…”
3. Right click on the desktop and click “Add Widgets”.
4. Drag the Lancelot widget onto the panel.

You will see another widget called “Lancelot Part”, but leave that one alone for now. Like most panel widgets, you can configure it by right-clicking on the icon and clicking “Lancelot Launcher Settings”. “Show categories…” will display a button for each Lancelot category. “Show only menu launcher icon” does just what it says.

One unique feature of Lancelot is the “No-click activation”, which allows you to navigate through the menu without clicking the mouse button. It is in the settings under “Menu” and the “General” tab. To activate an item, move your mouse pointer over the little arrow that appears when you highlight it. In my case, there is apparently something about clicking that feels more manly, so I disabled the “No-click”.

lancelot

Categories

There are four Lancelot categories: Applications, Computer, Contacts, and Documents. In “Applications”, you can add your favorite menu items to the favorites column simply by right-clicking on the icon and clicking “Add to Favorites”. When you navigate through each column, Lancelot stays there even if you close the menu, which is handy if you intend to open several applications within that section. It also produces a breadcrumb trail at the top so that you can track back to any spot.

“Computer” will show you the standard “Places” items that you have setup in Dolphin, “System” items, which you can edit, and a list of removable and fixed drives. “Contacts” displays new email messages (through Kmail and Kontact) and online Kopete contacts.   “Documents” shows your most recent documents in various formats. Early versions of Lancelot did not allow the user to clear the “recent documents”, but that feature has now been added.

lancelot1

Lancelot Part

lancelot-part

I had a very good reason for telling you to leave the Lancelot Part alone. If you were to drag it from the “Add Widgets” dialog, you would find that it does nothing. Any section within a Lancelot category can become a widget, utilizing Lancelot Part. For example, make sure that your widgets are unlocked, and then try dragging the “Places” section from the “Computer” category onto an open area of your desktop. You will now have a handy shortcut menu for all of your bookmarked places.

You can do the same with any of the Lancelot categories. You can also add multiple sections to one Lancelot Part. Just drag a second section onto the current one you just made. It is resizeable and has some configuration settings. In addition, any folder can be made into a Lancelot Part simply by dragging it to the desktop.

Lancelot Search

Lancelot is integrated with Krunner. That means anything the user can search for in Krunner can also be found in Lancelot. That includes applications, nepomuk tags, indexed documents, contacts, bookmarks, and file folders. It will also perform numerous Krunner functions such as the calculator and unit convertor.

lancelot-conversion

Lancelot works very well for those users who like a lot of functionality, and it delievers on its promises. If you are the type who prefers simplicity, however, Lancelot is not for you. The myriad of categories and menu columns can be daunting. Furthermore, I have noticed a slight delay in opening the menu on slower machines, so those of you on netbooks and low-powered desktops will probably prefer a more minimal menu. On my desktop, I enjoy Lancelot in its full glory, and it integrates nicely with KDE’s “Air” Plasma theme. I recommend you give it a try.