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How to Enable System Tray Applets in Ubuntu 11.04

One boon in Ubuntu 11.04 that sits on the border called ‘bane’ is the removal of the traditional panel system ‘notification’ area.

Whilst Wine and Java applications, along with VoIP app Skype, are all ‘whitelised’ entrys in Natty – meaning they still show – many users will find their favourite application sans a notification home.

Dropbox, Opera, Shutter – just three applications that are that bit harder to use in Ubuntu 11.04.

If you use a non-white-listed application which lacks a usable indicator alternative then perk up: OMG! Reader Dominik has an answer…

“I found something that was quite useful for me and thought there might be some people who would like to do the same.

There is a dconf key that stores the whitelist for Unity’s systray (the thing that shows the ugly green skype icon but doesn’t show your dropbox icon).

To see the current value type:
gsettings get com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist

You should get something like: [‘JavaEmbeddedFrame’, ‘Wine’, ‘Skype’]

Now if you, like me, use the Skype plugin for Pidgin you don’t need Skype’s non-mono icon disrupting your dekstop, and if you would like to see what Dropbox is doing (at least I don’t see any indicator support for now…) you can change this key with this command:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['JavaEmbeddedFrame', 'Wine', 'Dropbox']"

And voila: no Skype icon, but the dropbox icon is sitting in your tray after you next login.

It’s a neat tip but one i’d urge restraint on using. If you white-list too many applications you’re just going to have the icon-stew the removal measure was designed to put the kibosh on.

But, for now, I can use Shutter without my blood pressure teetering on the brink of insanity – thanks Dominik!