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how can i add an application to the start menu, for e.g open office? I can run the application from the command line but I cannot find out how to add it to the start menu under the office application...
If you are using KDE, right-click on the kicker menu and click on "menu editor". If you are using Gnome, the easiest way to do this is to download smeg, a menu editor for gnome. It'll most likely be available via fedora's package manager, and I know that it's available through apt-get (although you may need to add some sources).
The packages are already part of the main OOo 2.x package. If you extract the OOo 2.x tarball, there is a directory called RPMS, which contains a subdirectory called desktop-integration and all the menu packages I mentioned above including those for gnome and the freedesktop menu structure are available in there. If your distro is not supported then install the smeg/alacarte menu editor and use that to create the menu entries.