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I'd like to write a question that will provide some info that I would have needed a year ago as I was learning Ubuntu. But I'm having a hard time formulating it so that it is clear and simple. I'll describe the problem; help me come up with a good wording for the question. Thanks! Here's the issue:

One thing that I had to learn (but was ultimately very rewarding) was writing simple bash scripts. What drove me to do this was a desire to add programs to the Main Menu and the Panel that I had downloaded/built myself (not through Synaptic/apt/Software Center). The reason I could not simply use the GUI to add them is because they need to be run from within their own directory. If I tried to add a link to the programs to the menu or panel, the launcher would fail.

So what I did is this: I found a bash script online that would move to the directory and then launch the program and amended it to work for me. Here's what I did for a Latin translation program I use, called Words:

#! /bin/bash

WORDSPATH=~/latin/latin.words/

( cd $WORDSPATH ; ./words $* )

I'd like to ask a question so that this kind of answer can be provided. I know that, if I had come to this service 6 months ago, this would be one question I'd want answered. But how can I write this up in a short, clear question?

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  • The best I could come up with is this: "How do I add a program to the main menu or the panel that i have downloaded myself and that needs to be launched from within its own directory?" But that's kind of awkward, isn't it? And it is possible that a new user would not know that the program needed to be launched from within its own directory, too. – eugenemarshall Jul 30 '10 at 16:47
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OK, I think I've come up with a good phrasing: "How do I add a program that must be run from within its own directory to the panel or main menu?"

Some programs can only be run from within their own directories. If I go to System->Preferences->Main Menu->Add Item and select the file, it will not work. Similarly, if I right click on the Panel and choose "Add to Panel...", choose "Custom Application Launcher," and then point to the file, it will similarly fail. How can I add a launcher to my panel and an entry in my Main Menu that will successfully launch this kind of program?

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