Getting started

xstarter is an application launcher for Linux.
You can use it to quickly search installed applications and launch an application. It remembers you favourite programs. It can open applications from inside the terminal. It lives in terminal and works well with tiling window managers (e.g. xmonad, i3 etc).

If you don't have it, see how you can download and install it here.

See the list of features and screenshots.

Running xstarter

xstarter needs to be launched from a terminal ($ xstarter). It is useful to run it using a key binding, preferably by binding your preferred key to a command starting xstarter from a terminal of your choice, e.g. xterm -e xstarter. Alternatively, you can simply bind it to xstarter in which case xstarter will open itself in a terminal.

After starting it, you will see text-based interface. Start typing a name of any application you have installed on your computer. xstarter will find it. Hit Enter (Return) to launch it (for a graphical application). Use Ctrl-O to launch a terminal application.

You can also create an alias in your shell (e.g. bash, zsh): alias xs=xstarter.

It should run on any modern terminal. It is tested on: xterm, rxvt, gnome-terminal, xfce4-terminal, konsole. In case of any problems please report it.


Check out the default configuration file.
Configuration file includes comments that explain configuration variables. Copy the configuration file to $HOME/.xstarter.d/xstarter.conf.

Providing arguments to applications

You can provide arguments to applications you wish to open. If the number of search results is equal to 1, you can provide arguments the selected application should be started with, e.g. surf

You can provide multiple arguments, e.g. emacs -nw -Q

You can select the application you want to provide arguments for by pressing Tab key.

This feature works both with GUI (press Enter to start) and terminal applications (press Ctrl-o to start).

Key shortcuts

Use numbers 1..9 and 0 to open an application from the list.

By default, the following shortcuts are available:

Shortcut Action
Return (enter) Open selected application
Ctrl-o Open selected application in terminal (defined by “terminal” variable in the config file, xterm by default)
Ctrl-n Move down the list
Ctrl-p Move up the list
Ctrl-g Quit
Ctrl-d Delete entered character
Ctrl-w Delete entire query
Tab Auto-complete using current selection; provide arguments

Emacs interface

Emacs package helm-xstarter offers an intuitive interface to launch applications via Emacs.

It loads a list of installed applications and lets a user select one to launch. It also records recently open programs and shows them on top.

See github page for installation instructions!