Dock applications

Avant Window Manager, Cairo Dock, and Wbar are dock-like applications for Ubuntu Linux. A dock represents running programs as icons at the bottom of the screen (as is done on the Mac OS X desktop), instead of by toolbar panel segments (as is done in Windows and other Linux window managers). See this brief comparison of dock applications.

Avant Window Navigator

  • Avant Window Navigator requires that a desktop composition manager (such as Metacity, Compiz, Xcompmgr, KDE4 (Kubuntu), or xfwm4 (Xubuntu)) be installed and running.
  • Install and upgrade proprietary nVidia or ATI graphics drivers so that the compositing manager functions properly.
  • Install AWN:
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator awn-manager

(Note: If you are using Gnome (Ubuntu) and do not already have a compositing manager installed (such as Compiz), Metacity will be installed as part of the installation.)
  • Enable automatic startup of AWN at bootup:
  • Menu -> System -> Preferences -> Sessions -> Add…
avant-window-navigator

  • Select which applets should run from the dock menu by default:
  • Menu -> Applications -> Accessories -> Avant Window Navigator Manager
You can drag application icons onto the list, then activate or deactivate the applets from the list.

Cairo Dock

Cairo Dock can be used either with a desktop compositing manager (such as Metacity for Gnome, Compiz, or the KDE4 Window Manager) or without one. See the Ubuntu installation instructions for details. It is available from the repositories:

sudo apt-get install cairo-dock cairo-dock-plugins

wbar

wbar is a quick-launch bar (not a dock) that has an appearance similar to Avant Window Manager and Cairo Dock. It is GTK (Gnome) based but can work in all desktop environments. It does not require a compositing manager to be installed and is therefore quicker and more suitable for low-end hardware systems. It is the default in the Google gOS desktop and is available as a .deb package from Google. Download and install (from the command-line Terminal):

wget http://wbar.googlecode.com/files/wbar_1.3.3_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i wbar_1.3.3_i386.deb

  • Start wbar with custom start options (e.g. by pressing alt+F2). Here is an example:
wbar -isize 48 -j 1 -p bottom -balfa 40 -bpress -nanim 3 -z 2.5 -above-desk

Here is another example:
wbar -above-desk -pos bottom -isize 60 -nanim 1 -bpress -jumpf 0.0 -zoomf 1.5

For a full list of command-line startup options, see:

wbar --help

Tip: If you want the “wave” effect just increase the -nanim value. I like the icons to just pop up so I don’t use it, but with 9 icons 5 there is a nice “wave” effect.

Obviously, you could create a menu item with the command line options (similar to the examples above), or a batch file that can be automatically started at system startup (as a cron event or startup session).

You can also change wbar startup options by editing the configuration file:

sudo gedit /usr/share/wbar/dot.wbar

See this example configuration file. However, not all options are able to be set from the configuration file and must be run from the command line. For more info see this wbar guide.

wbarconf

A simple wbar configuration utility can be downloaded as a .deb package and installed:

wget http://koti.kapsi.fi/~ighea/wbarconf/wbarconf_0.7.2-1_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i wbarconf_0.7.2-1_i386.deb

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