rofi: lightweight, superfast launcher

Ubuntu, or Linux for that matter, has a number of awesome launchers. Even the stock launchers on different DEs do not disappoint. However, if you are looking for features like drop-down matches, cool GUI etc. you may have to look beyond the stock ones. Synapse has remained our favourite launcher on Ubuntu for non-Unity desktops. And today we came across rofi, a tiny tiny launcher.

Before going into further details, let’s check the memory usages. On the same device Synapse uses around 47MB resident memory, rofi uses 5MB in daemon mode. So if you are looking for a lightweight launcher we strongly suggest rofi.

window switcher mode


  • Lightweight GUI with drop-down matches
  • Type words in any order
  • UTF-8 support
  • Run dialog
  • SSH launcher
  • Window switcher
  • Top 25 matches are shown from usage history
  • Drop-in dmenu replacement, can be used in scripts
  • Integrates with i3 or any EWHM compatible Window Manager

However, we did miss Fuzzy search in rofi.


There is no official package for Ubuntu 14.04 and compilation from source needs installing a lot of packages. However, we found that the package available for Wily works on Trusty too. Download the deb package from here (click on the version and select your system arch under Builds).

To install, run:

$ sudo dpkg -i rofi_version_arch.deb


rofi can be launched in several ways. Single shot:

$ rofi -show run

As a daemon wit keybind to show rofi:

$ rofi -key-run F12

Emulate dmenu:

$ echo -e "Option #1\nOption #2\nOption #3\n" | rofi -dmenu

Or combine dmenu functionality with a script:

~/scripts/ | rofi -dmenu

dmenu emulation

rofi can be run in several  modes (when launched as single shot): run dialog, window switcher, ssh session starter, dmenu replacement.

Start run dialog:

$ rofi -show run

Show window switcher:

$ rofi -show window

SSH connection launcher:

$ rofi -show ssh

ssh session launcher

If you do not want to remember all the commands, you can cycle to the modes using the <Shift-Right> key combination.

For additional information:

$ man rofi

Webpage: rofi

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