Xubuntu 14.04 – Notification Area Missing Icons

Yesterday I bit the bullet and upgraded my fairly stable Xubuntu install from 13.10 Saucy Salamander to 14.04 Trusty Tahr.

I had no pressing need to upgrade (aside from an the occasional reminder when I logged in that a new release was available) but since Trusty had been out for a few weeks I figured any show stopping bugs would be ironed out by now.

First, I have to comment on how painless the upgrade procedure has become, a couple of clicks and it was away. After about an hour or so spent downloading and installing updates, a reboot and a slightly extended initial login, everything seemed to be right where I left it. No longer are we faced fixing a bunch of small things that go awry during the upgrade process.

I did, however, find one minor annoyance. No longer did all my running apps (the ones that I want to anyway) show up in the notification area I have in the top left of my screen.

Notification area Missing Icons

Missing Icons

Conspicuously missing were Network Manager, Dropbox, Spideroak, KeePass and perhaps a few more, leaving me with just the volume control and power indicator icons showing. This was true even though each of my apps appeared to be running after being correctly started at login.

Indicator Plugin

Indicator Plugin

After a bit of poking around in the XFCE panel preferences I found that replacing the Notification Area applet with the Indicator Plugin applet all my application icons were restored.

This, however, left me with another dilemma, as Indicator Plugin also includes a bunch of icons for mail, bluetooth and keyboard that, although I could hide, I couldn’t easily remove. What I really wanted was for Notification Area to work the way it did before the upgrade.

Notification Area with Icons

Notification Area

After further investigation and a little google-fu, I found that by killing indicator-application-service my icons would reappear. A quick delve into ‘Sessions and Startup’ settings found in XFCE’s Settings Manager found this service (listed as Indicator Application) was started on login and by unticking the box next to it I could tell it not to start. Problem solved. Now my notification area looks the way I like it with grey and black icons showing and the more and out of place looking coloured icons nicely hidden away.

Session and Startup Properties

Session and Startup Properties

Problem: After upgrading to Xubuntu 14.04 some application icons no longer show in the notification area.

Solution: Stop indicator-application-service from starting at login.


  • Open XFCE Settings Manager and navigate to Session and Startup preferences.
  • Click on the Application Autostart Tab and scroll down to Indicator Application
  • Untick the tickbox.
  • Click close, log out and log back in again.


Some (hopefully) useful linux tips

Those people that know me get a little sick of me banging on about how I use linux and, where I can, free (as in libre) software on the desktop, this includes both at home and at the university where I study.

While I’m not going to go into too much detail about the hows and whys of my desktop computer use right here and now, I will say that to say switching to Linux on the desktop (and especially on a Mac, as I do) has a bit of a learning curve. This, I think, is true for anyone coming from an other desktop environment.

Although I am by no means either a computer or linux expert (far from it in fact), what I have done is to document some of the problems I’ve come across in my everyday use of linux.

When I’ve come across a problem that has either; taken me some time to figure out; come up against a number of times and needed to search for a solution each time because I’ve forgotten what to do; or just thought that the answer might just come in handy some other time, I’ve made a note of the problem and the solution.

In many cases, I also tried to record a short synopsis of the problem and solution as well as the steps taken to rectify the problem. The purpose of this has been to ensure I both understand the problem and so I have a record of what I’ve done that is easy to read. The upshot is that, in doing so, I’ve ended up with pretty detailed notes where I explain the problem and solution to myself.

I’ve had these notes in Tomboy installation that I’ve moved from one install to another – all the time meaning to export them to plain text somewhere. The other day, when performing a full format reinstall of my laptop, I booted into a gParted live session to play with my partitions when I would have liked to access my notes on gdisk – no luck. ‘Would be great if I had these online’, I thought.

I also got to thinking that I have this little WordPress blog where I wanted to write up my thoughts on some things that were going on around me in the world. If you take a quick look at my post history you’ll see how far I got with that.  With that in mind I think this might be a good place to put my notes. Yes, I do know it’s not plain text but they are accessible to me, and to the world. If I’m lucky others will find them useful too.