What is the best dock for you? 4 Linux docks compared.

When it comes to customizing the Linux desktop one of the things that not many people think of are docks. Your dock is how you launch all of your most used apps, it’s crucial that its efficient and easy to use. In this guide we will go over 4 docks and will be rating them based on the following criteria:

  • Installation
  • Ease of use
  • Customization

Each dock can get a max of 30 points. The docks in question are:

  • Plank
  • Docky
  • Cairo
  • Awn


How easy is installation? For our tests we used Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, we cannot guarantee that installation will be the same on your distro.


Super simple, just add the ppa and go!

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/docky
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install plank


Even easier! No new ppa required for Ubuntu users.

sudo apt-get install docky


Again it’s very simple because it’s in the official repositories.


A little bit harder… The ppa has not been updated for 14.04 or 15.04 so you have to make that ppa think you are on 13.10.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:awn-testing/ppa
sudo sed -i 's/trusty/saucy/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/awn-testing-ppa-trusty.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator

Ease of use


Just run the command below to get you started.


There’s not much else to it, Plank is the simplest dock on this list.


Just run the command


If you right click on the anchor you get access to settings and customization. I will show you how to get rid of that icon later.


To start up Cairo then you should run the command


Cairo starts with a bunch of pre-selected apps and shortcuts on the bar… I cant do much with cairo because whenever I right click on the dock it disappears.


AWN was fairly easy just another one line command.  When I first opened he dock right next to the app icons was a little dead face sign. It said that the applet had crashed… not a great start.



Customization on Plank is absolutely zero without installing third party packages. All you get stock is simple drag and drop reordering of icons and the ability to pin different things to the dock.


You get quite a bit of customization on Docky. Including ability to theme the dock and to enable options like panel mode and 3D background. There are quite a few applets available as well if that’s your kind of thing. To get rid of the Docky icon enter the following command:

gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/docky-2/Docky/Items/DockyItem/ShowDockyItem False


As I said earlier whenever I right clicked on the dock it would close…


AWN is definitely the most customize able of all the docks I have tried so far. Out of the box you get many dock styles and settings to play around with. The only thing I found lacking was themes and applets out of the box. You can get more themes and applets online though.

Final scores (Out of 10)

All in all, the best dock for you just depends on your needs. The dock for customizers is AWN, the dock for minimalists is Plank and the all around best is Docky.



  1. peter · March 21

    I haven’t been a fan of LM but I do like Cairo so Dennis I’m going to take a look thanks


  2. Dennis · March 20

    This is 2018 and the latest version of cairo 3.4.1 with the latest version of LM 18.3, Cinnamon, of course, has blown the rest away ! ! ! TAKE A LOOK !
    You can even drop windows apps , Running in wine, onto Cairo, you have to find an icon, of course,Plenty on the net
    and they’re seemless, they even open in a LINUX WINDOW ! ! ! How Brilliant is That ? Cairo For Ever ! ! !


  3. lkaptain · December 17

    I love Cairo hate Docky


  4. Amanda Huginkis · December 17

    Plank is very configurable. The configuration file is clear and nicely self-documented with comments; mostly just a matter of selecting option numbers or true and false.
    In Manjaro it is found in /home/username/.config/plank/
    Some changes take effect straight away some will require logging out and back in.
    I haven’t used Cairo but right-click to close seems like a bizarre design choice for a dock.


  5. peter · February 9, 2017

    I would like to comment on this…. “whenever I right click on the dock it disappears”
    When you right click it disappears because you are closing it. So all you have to do is re-open it.
    To re-open just go to the Applications Menu and find Cairo-Dock and open it.


  6. Mahour · February 9, 2017

    How do I bring back my beloved Docky icon after using the command that your recommend?! I can’t even open my Docky option from applications anymore!!!!! I don’t know how undo that command.


    • Mahour · February 9, 2017

      OK. No worries find two ways two I brought it back.


  7. peter · February 9, 2017

    I arrived here because I was trying to determine which dock was installed in linux-mangaka nyu final from 2015
    because I need to uninstall the dock – it’s terrible. So I arrived here and found out that it is plank.
    I will install Cairo Dock it’s great I don’t understand this author’s criticism and that’s why I’m leaving this comment…
    Take it from me and don’t be afraid of Cairo like I said it’s great and another thing Cairo adds is an applications menu! Cheers everybody


  8. Pingback: Attempting to Customize the Start Menu in Linux Mint 18 | Ray Woodcock's Latest

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