menufile - entry in the Debian menu system








Menu files add entries to the Debian menu system. The system administrator can place menu files in /etc/menu/ to override menu files that packages add to /usr/share/menu/ . The user can place menu files in ~/.menu/ to override all other menu files.

Please read the Debian menu manual available in /usr/share/doc/menu/html for the complete specification of menu files.

The menu files are usually named after the Debian package that contains the programs listed in them. In it, you can list several "menu entries" that specify a specific item in the menu structure. Each menu entry specifies which packages it depends on; if that package are not installed, the menu entry will be ignored by update-menus(1). (In a menu entry you can specify pseudo-packages that start with "local."; update-menus will always use those menu entries). If you wish to remove an item from the menu entirely, make an empty menu file with the same name as the file you want to override.

4. Examples

Dosemu could install the following menu file as /usr/share/menu/dosemu:

?package(dosemu):needs="text" section="Applications/Emulators" title="Dosemu" command="dosemu" ?package(dosemu):needs="X11" section="Applications/Emulators" title="Dosemu" command="xdos"

The system administrator wants to override this file to change how dosemu is run, so /etc/menu/dosemu is created:

?package(dosemu):needs="text" section="Applications/Emulators" title="Dosemu" command="dosemu -A" ?package(dosemu):needs="X11" section="Applications/Emulators" title="Dosemu" command="xdos -A"

A user does not want Dosemu to appear in the menus at all, so the user creates an empty file named ~/.menu/dosemu.


A menu file consists of 0 or more lines of the following format:

?package(package-name):var1=value1 var2=value2 ...

  • needs
        Specify what kind of environment the program require. This variable must be defined, and should be one of the following:
  • needs="text"
        Program requires a terminal
  • needs="x11"
        Program requires a X server
  • needs="vc"
        Program requires a Linux console (i.e.: svgalib programs)
  • needs="wm"
        The program is a window manager.
  • needs="fvwmmodule"
        The program is a fvwm compatible module.
  • section
        The section in which the menu entry should appear. See MENU LAYOUT for preferred section names.
  • icon
        An icon for this menu entry. If no icon is available, just don't define this.
  • title
        The title of the program that will appear on the menus. Keep it short. If two menu entries share the same title and section, the one that best fits the available display will be used. So in the example above with two menu entries that both have the menu id "title", if X is available, the X11 one will be used; otherwise the text one will be used. Must be defined.
  • command
        The command to be executed when this menu entry is selected.
  • hints
        A comma-separated list of hints on how grouping menu entries; see the manual.


The authoritative list of Debian's menu structure is maintained in the Debian Menu sub-policy document which is part of the Debian Policy package. The menu structure below is included only for convenience. Please do not put your packages into any other sections. Use `/' to separate sub-menu names, for example, "Applications/Editors" or "Games/Arcade".

Applications Accessibility Amateur Radio Data Management Editors Education Emulators File Management Graphics Mobile Devices Network Communication File Transfer Monitoring Web Browsing Web News Office Programming Project Management Science Astronomy Biology Chemistry Data Analysis Electronics Engineering Geoscience Mathematics Medicine Physics Social Shells Sound System Administration Hardware Language Environment Monitoring Package Management Security Terminal Emulators Text TV and Radio Viewers Video Web Development Games Action Adventure Blocks Board Card Puzzles Simulation Strategy Tools Toys Help Screen Saving Locking Window Managers FVWM Modules Window Maker


If you want to specify an icon or hotkey for a sub-menu (for example, the Editors sub-menu), just use the same syntax but leave the command empty: ?package(mypackage):needs="X11" section="Applications" icon="icon.xpm" hotkey="E" title="Editors"

Whenever any menu files are changed, you must run

R update-menus (1)


(Earlier listed files override later files with the same names.)

~/.menu/* Menu files added by the user. /etc/menu/* Menu files added by the system administrator. /usr/lib/menu/* Architecture-dependant menu files provided by other Debian packages. /usr/share/menu/* Architecture-independant menu files provided by other Debian packages. /usr/share/menu/default/* Menu files provided by the menu package.


Joost Witteveen < >, based on work by Lars Wirzenius < >. Now maintained by Bill Allombert < >.

(Man page by Joey Hess, < >)


R update-menus (1),

R /usr/share/doc/menu/html/index.html