An Application Dock for Linux
I am a PC, Mac, and Linux user. At night I dual boot between Vista and Ubuntu and during the day I use a Mac almost exclusively. As a result, there are many things I like about using my Mac at work and would not mind seeing them on my home desktop. Since buying a Mac right now for personal use is out of the question I have to make do with what I already have. At any rate, one of the Mac features I actually like is the Dock. For those of you who are not Mac users, the Dock is basically a bar at the bottom of the desktop where application icons can be displayed that will launch the application once clicked on. It's attractive and useful and I have wanted one on my non-Mac desktops for some time now.
So, once again I went searching for that "Mac like" experience on Linux which lead me to the Gnome Do website (http://do.davebsd.com/).
It's important to note that when using the Synaptic Package Manager found in Ubuntu, you should search for "Do", not "Gnome Do". Installing does not immediately create the Dock in the picture, but changing the preferences is pretty easy and painless. Once installed I simply launched the settings/preferences window and quickly found what I was looking for under the "Appearance" tab. Under the "Selected Theme" simply select "Docky" form the drop down window and you will have the desired dock at the bottom of your desktop. I did change the "Icon Size" slider and did make some minor changes to the "Docklets" list. I do need to note that trying to scroll through the "Docklets" window was my first taste of possible instability. I was able to scroll through it of sorts, but the contents did not seem to really scroll as much as they visually stacked on top of each other when using the slider controls making it a little harder to filter through the list. Best way to filter through the list is by clicking on an option and then using the arrow keys.
The default install has some basic application icons but the Dock will only be useful if the applications you use on a regular basis are the ones installed in the Dock. For me, I want easy configuration as well as use. Anything short of that and the Mac experience is already gone as is the desire to use the Dock. Fortunately, Gnome Do is very easy to use and configure. To remove an icon simply drag the icon out of the dock as if you were moving it to the desktop, just like on a Mac. To install new application icons you simply drag them to the Dock and they will be inserted into the Dock, just like on a Mac. For my use, I removed some of the default icons, added the application icons that I use on a regular basis and got rid of the bottom tool bar that is default with the Ubuntu installation of the Gnome desktop. But getting rid of that bottom tool bar meant I no longer had easy access to the trash bin so I selected "Trash" can display from within the "Docklets" menu under the "Appearance" Tab.
For me, that's all there was too it. I have pretty simply desires so my configuration was pretty simple. Will I continue using Gnome Do? For a while, but I am unsure if I will have the patience for long term use with what appears like stability issues. Twice I have had the dock disappear and the only way to bring it back was to relaunch the application. All though active applications should display (and do display) a white dot under the icon, some applications also launch a second icon in the Dock. A good example of that is the dual TweetDeck icons in the first screen shot. I have also had one instance of trying to add an icon to the Dock in which my system did not like the act of dragging and dropping the icon so I received a pop up error message but lost all ability to click out of the error message or even gain access to the rest of my applications or desktop. Ultimately I was forced to Cntrl + ALT+ Delete to bring up the Ubuntu shutdown/reboot window. Because I was unable to navigate any of the application windows, I was unable to actually select a reboot or shutdown and was forced to wait for the automated shutdown timer to countdown to zero and shut down my laptop. Once I rebooted I was able to add the application that had previously froze my desktop.
Also, unlike the Mac when I minimize a window it disappears. You can click the application icon which will usually bring the window back up or you can "Alt + Tab" to cycle your way through the list of open applications. I would prefer if the minimized window disappeared from my visibly active applications but was simply lowered to the right side of the Dock. As it is, at least once when the Dock/system seemed to be glitching, I was unable to relaunch the application window when clicking on the active Dock icon. But, will this be a common user experience for me, or just a fluke? I don't know, only time will tell.
So, if you are looking or might be interested in a Dock "launcher" then take a look at Gnome Do (http://do.davebsd.com/). It is a simple, attractive enough, and easy to configure Dock. The big question for me will be stability and usability for my personal usage habits and like I said, only time will tell.
*NOTE* I originally wrote and posted this else where but thought I would share it here as well. I have also added a couple of things that will be relevant. Also as an update, I am starting to notice that when booting to my desktop, the Dock appears to have been replaced with the Gnome Do's search feature. If I can change this through a configuration change and can avoid laziness mixed with annoyance then the Dock might get to stay. Otherwise it goes!