How-To Geek

Using the Kubuntu Run Command Dialog (Alt+F2)

Kubuntu linux is a variant of Ubuntu that uses the KDE desktop environment instead of Gnome. The KDE desktop can be installed on Ubuntu easily, however.

The quickest way to run a command on Ubuntu or Kubuntu is to use the Alt+F2 shortcut key. This pops up a dialog that looks like this:

You can type any command that you would regularly use from a terminal window and it will run. Using the Options button gives you a number of other interesting options. Let’s try a simple ls -l command:

We’ve checked the “Run in terminal window” checkbox so that the output of the command will show up in a terminal window. On Ubuntu this doesn’t seem to work right, but in Kubuntu or KDE this is really useful. Either hit enter or click the Run button, and you’ll see something like this:

This is extremely useful for quickly getting the results of commands like ifconfig where you just need the output of the command.

Another neat feature is that the Run Command remembers the settings for each command. In the last command we typed ‘ls -l’ and checked the “run in terminal window” box. When we type in something else, the settings are defaulted:

But if we start typing ‘ls -l’ again, it automatically checks the checkbox that we set before:


The other options include running a command as a different user and setting the priority of the command. For the most part, you’ll just type sudo or gksu before the command if it needs to run as root, but if you were trying to run a command as a different user entirely, it would be useful.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/24/06

Comments (2)

  1. baiguai

    Is there a way to tweak the items that appear in this dialog? I have tweaked the names of a couple shortcuts in the /user/bin directory – and they launch with the new names from within the run dialog – but I would also like to add website shortcuts there etc.

    This is what I do on my work machines (Windows – using the shortcuts in c:\windows) – but I haven’t been able to do anything but tweak what is already in the /usr/bin directory. Basically I would like to do the equivalent of creating aliases in the ~/.bashrc – only I want them to run with the Run Application dialog.


  2. Callum

    I’ve been looking for the same thing as baiguai asked. Turns out, I found an easy solution Ubuntu brainstorm. Well, sort of solution. mhall119 suggested using symlinks, which is ingenious. symlinks in my ~/bin directory work from the alt-f2 run dialog. It’s not quite the same as aliases because I cannot symlink to arguments, but it’s pretty damn close.

    One could, with sufficient motivation, write bash scripts in ~/bin to launch other programs with options, but that seems like too much work for the reward to me!

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