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How to manage startup programs on Ubuntu Linux



Ubuntu Focal Fossa logo from its desktop background.

Many applications automatically set up to start when you log in to your Linux desktop. You may also want to add your own favorite programs to the startup process. How to control what Ubuntu starts when you log in.

We ran this process on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with its standard GNOME desktop. The steps will be similar to other Linux distributions with a GNOME desktop, but you may need to use a different configuration tool in other desktop environments.

How to start GNOME̵
7;s Startup Manager

To start Startup Manager, open the program list by clicking the “View Applications” button in the bar at the bottom left of the screen. Search for and launch the “Startup Applications” tool.

Launches the Startup Applications tool on Ubuntu.

You can also press Alt + F2 to open the Run a command dialog box and run the following command:

gnome-session-properties

Launch gnome-session-properties from the Run Command dialog box.

If the Startup Tools does not appear in your application menu for any reason, you can open a terminal window and use the following command to start it:

sudo apt install gnome-startup-applications

Install the GNOME Startup Applications tool on Ubuntu.

To stop programs from starting automatically on Ubuntu

The Startup Program Settings window opens. You will see a list of programs that start automatically when you log in to your graphics desktop. Each application has a name and possibly a description.

To stop a program from starting automatically, simply clear the check box to the left of the program. Unmarked programs do not load at startup.

You can also click select a program and click “Delete” to remove it from the list here, but unchecking the program accomplishes the same thing – and allows you to more easily reactivate the launcher in the future, if you wish.

Disables a startup program on Ubuntu.

If you are not sure what a program is, you can search for its name on the web. For example, if you are applying im-launch, you will find that this is the command that starts all the input methods you need.

You can also select a program and click “Edit” to see the entire command that runs when you log in.

Edit a launcher on Ubuntu's GNOME desktop.

How to add your own startup programs on Ubuntu

To add a launcher, you want to know its full path. You will find this with which the command in a terminal window.

For example, let’s say you want to run Firefox. First start a terminal window and run the following command:

which firefox

You will find out that the Firefox binary is on /usr/bin/firefox . This is the path you must enter in the command bar in the Add Launcher window.

Running

Click the “Add” button in the Launcher Settings window and enter the entire path to the program you want to launch in the command bar.

You should also write a name for the program and possibly a comment. Both of these fields appear only in the Startup Applications Settings window.

Add a custom launcher on Ubuntu.

When you are done, click “Add”. You see your custom boot program displayed here. As long as it has a check box and appears in this list, the GNOME desktop will launch it every time you log in to Ubuntu.

Firefox as a custom boot application on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.


By the way, many applications that start at startup offer a built-in option to change this. For example, you can stop Dropbox from starting automatically on Linux by using its options window, just as you can on Windows and Mac.

However, with the Startup Application Preferences tool, you can see everything your desktop opens automatically and control it from one place.




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