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Revision as of 12:35, 7 December 2013 by Ninian (Talk | contribs) (See Also)

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dmenu is a fast and lightweight dynamic menu for X. It reads arbitrary text from stdin, and creates a menu with one item for each line. The user can then select an item, through the arrow keys or typing a part of the name, and the line is printed to stdout. dmenu_run is a wrapper that ships with the dmenu distribution that allows its use as an application launcher.


Install dmenu from the official repositories.

You may run dmenu with

$ dmenu_run


Now, you will want to attach the dmenu_run command to a keystroke combination. This can be done either via your window manager or desktop environment configuration, or with a program like xbindkeys. See the Hotkeys article for more information. Also, it is helpful to Prelink dmenu.

Displaying Custom Items

Custom items may be shown by piping them into dmenu. For example:

$ echo -e "first\nsecond\nthird" | dmenu


dmenu can be patched to allow using xft fonts which do not seem to be working with the version from upstream. The patched version can be found in the dmenu-xftAUR package from the AUR. Using this version, fonts like Droid Sans Mono can be set.

$ dmenu_run -fn 'Droid Sans Mono-9'


Strange segfaulting

If executing dmenu_run results in an error similar to this:

 $ dmenu_run
 /usr/bin/dmenu_run: line 15: 1879 Segmentation fault           dmenu "$@" < "$cache"

And running dmenu crashes like the following:

 $ echo "blahblahblah" 

Make sure $LANG is set to something valid. For example, this problem may occur if one needs to set $LANG to en_US.UTF_8 or something similar in /etc/locale.conf (see locale.conf).

Keep in mind that the value contained in $LANG must be uncommented in /etc/locale.gen and generated via locale-gen as well.

See Also

  • dmenu – The official dmenu website
  • Yeganesh – a light wrapper that reorders commands based on popularity. Written in Haskell
  • xboomx – yet another light wrapper that reorders commands based on popularity. Written in Python. Minimal dependencies
  • dmenu-launchAUR (AUR) – A simple Dmenu-based application launcher. Launches binaries and XDG shortcuts.
  • fyrAUR (AUR) – Manages menus of application launchers, either executables or desktop files. Also opens files with launchers, desktop files, or applications associated by MIME-type. Dmenu-driven.
  • goaAUR (AUR) – Opens files with any desktop application or executable, chosen from a menu of all possibilities found in standard locations on the system. Dmenu-driven.
  • Dmenu Hacking thread – Dmenu hacking thread in arch linux forums.
  • dswitcherAUR (AUR) – Dmenu-based window switcher that works regardless of workspace or minimization.