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How to Add a Slick Dock to Your Ubuntu Desktop


Plank, one of our favourite dock applications for Linux, received a sizeable update last month, adding long-wished-for features and a healthy splat of bug fixes.

It introduces a built-in preferences panel where options for position, sizing and theme can be set, toggled, tweaked and adjusted to your heart’s content

Not that you need to, mind. Plank’s default settings are pretty much perfect, putting a centred dock with well-sized icons at the bottom of your screen. You can minimise/maximise applications to the dock with a click, add and rearrange app shortcuts as desired and, where supported, access ‘quick list’ items through the right-click menu.

Like other applications, Plank is also themeable, letting you build a super seamless desktop experience.

Plank with 'Numix' theme (and Corebird with a GTK bug)

Plank with ‘Numix’ theme (and Corebird demoing a GTK3 bug)

Plank isn’t the only dock-like application available for Linux, but it is one of the best all-rounders. It is well maintained, leaves a light impression on system resources, and works well across various desktop and window managers. It has a small but well considered set of features and customisation options.

The bells and whistles that overload and complicate alternatives aren’t here. Instead, they’ve been traded for dependability, stability and simplicity.

General Features of Plank:

  • Shows ‘pinned’ and running app icons
  • Right click menu with options & quick list items
  • Drag dock items to rearrange

Options/settings include:

  • Position – top, bottom, left or right side of screen
  • Alignment – groups icons to left, right or centre
  • Behaviour – including hiding options, e.g., ‘intelli-hide’
  • Theme support — includes ‘transparent’ option

Among the approximately 20 changes in Plank 0.8 are:

  • GTK Theme “selected-focused background-color” used for indicator
  • Preferences panel added
  • Panel mode item positioning fixed
  • Errant folders issue on Linux Mint fixed
  • Hover window delay increased to 200ms
  • Improved appearance on HiDPI screens

How to Install Plank Dock in Ubuntu

Plank 0.8 “May” can be installed on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and 14.10 (and derivatives) using the official Docky PPA (yes, which means it also houses newer builds of Docky, too).

To add the PPA to your Software Sources first open up a new Terminal window and then enter the following commands, entering your password where prompted.

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

After installation is done, open the ‘Plank’ app from the Unity Dash (or equivalent App Menu in the desktop environment you’re using) and you’re away.

To access preferences right click on the ‘Plank’ icon on the far left-hand side.

Show us your setups!

Whether you’re a new Plank user or a long-standing fan, we want to see your setups. Add them to the ‘Share your desktop’ section of our Google+ Community (or use the hashtag #PlankDock so others can see).