One new feature in GNOME 2.13/2.14 that seems to have gone unadvertised is the support for autostarting applications. You just need to put .desktop files in $prefix/share/gnome/autostart or ~/.config/autostart and all applications there will be started by gnome-session when you log in.
Just a few things to note about this:
- If your application has another mean to be started (an applet, a config dialog that will start the app and then save itself to the session, like vino, for instance), don’t use this!
- It doesn’t work very well with session-managed applications (even though it contains checks to not start several instances of the same app), so make sure you use the –sm-disable argument in the Exec field of the .desktop file.
- You can disable .desktop files either by setting X-GNOME-autostart-enabled to False in the .desktop file or by using the Session Properties capplet.