I’ve had some problems using launchers with the gnome-panels. Sometimes, they’d disappear, or reappear, seemingly by random. Some days, one of my panels wouldn’t appear at all.
It seems this is all because of how gnome-panels launchers work.
When you drag a launcher from, say, the desktop to the panel – you’d think this creates a copy of the launcher, or at the very least creates some launcher-object containing the same information – not so. A “launcher”, in gnome-panels, is simply an entry in the gnome conffiguration (/apps/panels/objects). The entry describes not the path to the file to be executed, but the path to the original .desktop file.
When a launcher is created by using “Add to panel” – “Custom application launcher”, it creates a .desktop file in something like ~/.gnome2/panel2.d/default/launchers/. “panel2” seems to be the panel in which the launcher was created. It will not move as you move the launcher between panels.
If the .desktop file is removed, but not the gnome configuration entry, the launcher simply fails to appear. This means there might be a lot of “empty” launchers in your config. This also means that dragging a launcher from the desktop, or from anywhere, onto a panel might create problems in the future.
I, for one, won’t be dragging any launchers from the desktop any more. Doing so means that when I remove the launcher from the desktop, it won’t show up in the panel anymore – I’ll have to create a new launcher.
To me, this all seems like a rather stupid way of doing things. I liked Windows 98 (and 2000, and XP…)’s start menu toolbars. At least then the program was very clear on what was happening – the toolbar was tied to a specific folder on the harddrive. Any shortcuts etc placed in that folder, showed up on the toolbar. Simple. If I ever get the time, I might create something like that for gnome-panels as well…
EDIT: Turns out I didn’t need to. Just install quick-lounge-applet, should be available in the normal Ubuntu repos. Or look here. Not only does it keep the launchers organized, it also makes actual copies of the launchers, saving them in a predictable manner (~/.gnome2/quick-lounge, and then a subdirectory for each instance of the applet. And the .desktop files move around if you move the icons. Why isn’t this standard?