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.


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”.



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.


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 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.

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.


  1. I have recieved you make teck easer now for some time and I lookfoward to
    reading it, and in some cases useing it.
    Keep up the good work.

    On microsoft when I try to remove cookies and tempary file B4 I defrag or do
    other thing to my computers. How do I delet the index files?

    How dow I clean out the cashes?

    Thank you
    good luck

  2. Hi,

    First of all, I’m very glad you like L, and thanks for this nice overview.

    I just have one thing to correct you – Lancelot is not a third-party application that ” has now entered into the KDE fold”.

    It was developed within the KDE project from the start (the initial development started at KDE developers meeting – aKademy 2007), it just didn’t have the same release schedule as the rest of KDE before the 4.2 release because I didn’t consider it /finished-enough/ until that point.

    Ivan ?uki?
    KDE and Lancelot developer

  3. Thanks for clarifying. I am writing a book about KDE, and knowing that ahead of time is a good thing. :)

  4. You’re welcome :)

    Have a nice time writing your book. That is one of the things Free/Libre Software really lacks.

  5. Great article, thanks! I’ve been hoping to get more information about Lancelot recently.

    Question about Lancelot Part:
    Can you likewise drag lancelot categories to any plasma containment, such as another panel? And would this enable users to roughly mimic the gnome style menubar?

  6. Great article, thanks!

    Question about Lancelot Part:
    Can a lancelot category be added to any plasma containment, such as another panel? Would this feature enable a user to roughly mimic the gnome menubar, if so desired?

  7. thanks ! I was not aware of Lancelot till now – looks better than the original KDE menu, will give it a try


  8. Just discovered your writings today from a link from (which has the best Linux links anywhere).
    Love what Ive read so far and will definitely be keeping in mind that you are writing a KDE book.
    Do you have any ETA for the book and how will you work around the fact that changes happen so quickly? Mind you, I dont think the jump from 4.3 to 4.4 will as big as the last 2-3 ones.

    As for Lancelot, its been getting better and better, giving us more and more say in its configuration, adding widget functionalities and so on.
    I use both the Kickoff (classic menu feels ancient) in the bottom taskbar and Lancelot with a big button in the middle of the desktop at the same time and Ive noticed taht the kids use Lancelot when they are looking for something on the HD.

    Im a big fan of Ivan’s work and my desktop theme is his own Slim Glow
    as is my wife’s netbook so I recommend you give that a look as well.

    All the best.

  9. Well, the good news is that the information, although not the exact words, of the posts I’ve written here at MTE will be included in the book. That will cut down the amount of time it takes me to document all of it, and all of your comments have helped with that. The publisher has given me a deadline for the book, which is prior to 4.4 release, but the 4.4 Beta will be out this year. I can use that to mention any significant changes on the horizon. It should not be anything huge.

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