Unity 2D users (or rather, ‘testers’ since it’s still very much in development) in Maverick who are bored of the solid bar launcher can, with a bit of jiggery-pokery, make a fully transparent version.

Unity 2D launcher made transparent

Fully transparent

First you need to find a wallpaper that matches your screen resolution. Save two copies of it. From your chosen image you need to crop a rectangle from the far-left with the following dimensions:

  • width: 58px
  • height: resolution’s height minus 24px (the height of the top panel)

E.g. for my 1440×900 monitor I take 900 and subtract -24, giving me 876. Save your cropped image and move it, as root (ALT+F2 > gksu nautilus) to

  • /usr/share/unity/themes/launcher_background_middle.png

Don’t forget to log out and back in to see the change take effect.

The catch(es)

Firstly this involves overwriting the default launcher background, so be sure to make a backup first. Secondly, depending on your design, your launcher may stick out like a sore thumb since the main desktop panel is not ‘configurable’. Finally subsequent updates to Unity 2D will overwrite this again, so keep your created image handy also.

— Update —

Reader Sergey sent in a few tips that may be of use to those attempting this: –

To avoid automatic background replacement on upgrades, run

sudo dpkg-divert /usr/share/unity/themes/launcher_background_middle.png

To change the background back to the default one, run:

sudo dpkg-divert --remove /usr/share/unity/themes/launcher_background_middle.png && sudo apt-get install --reinstall unity-asset-pool

Thanks to Viktor & Sergey

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