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

Installation

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.

Plank

Super simple, just add the ppa and go!

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

Docky

Even easier! No new ppa required for Ubuntu users.

sudo apt-get install docky

Cairo

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

AWN

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

Plank

Just run the command below to get you started.

Plank

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

Docky

Just run the command

docky

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.

Cairo

To start up Cairo then you should run the command

cairo-dock

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

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

Plank

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.

Docky

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

Cairo

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

AWN

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.