I’m not fond of Ubuntu’s Unity. The implementation in Oneiric sports improved stability, but it still takes longer to do anything with applications, plus requires either tons of mouse clicks or the keyboard. While Unity in Natty had an application launcher on the panel, there’s no such luck in Oneiric. Plus, Unity remains virtually unconfigurable, a totally anathema for Linux.
I found one approach put together by the author/maintainer of the official Ubuntu Unity launcher. It isn’t an approach that I particularly favor and have yet to make a determination of whether I’ll keep it or not. The program is unity-lens-bliss, and it plugs into the existing Dash system. Although there’s no .deb file or PPA available, SilverWav has excellent instructions for its installation. I used his approach and it worked fine.
Keep in mind that this is really an early concept demonstrator, so it isn’t complete or entirely stable. For example, clicking on an empty folder will trap you there. You may be able to type a few characters in the search box then backspace over them to get the top level folders back, but it doesn’t always work.
Open the Dash as usual by clicking on the top icon on the Unity launch bar. The bliss lens is the second lens at the bottom, or in this case, the middle icon at the bottom of the Dash:
Click on the System folder provides the applications thereunder:
Nothing extraordinary, but effective. However, in the current version 0.1.3 of bliss, the applications aren’t lined up like they are in the main menu. That’s a bit disconcerting, and also prevents the bliss lens from being configurable.
There are apparently other approaches to providing a usable menu system in Unity, and I’ll keep trying them. Unity is here to stay, as is Gnome 3, so workarounds and hacks are all we have left for Ubuntu power users who have been abandoned by Canonical.