The 7 Best Linux Docks to Give Your Desktop a New Look

Is your Linux desktop cluttered with applications and you have trouble finding an application every time you want to launch it? Well, it turns out you can use a dock to fix this problem.

Generally speaking, an application dock is a system component of some desktop operating systems that facilitates multitasking by providing quick access to applications and utilities. Not only that, but it also contributes to the visual appearance of your office, making it both functional and attractive.

In Linux, there are a variety of applications you can use to get a dock on your desktop. Let’s see some of these best docking apps for Linux.



Dock Latte
Image Credit: KDEGenericName

Latte is a dock based on the Plasma framework. It is intuitive and relies on parabolic zoom effects for its animations. You can use this dock on a wide range of Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, openSUSE, Arch Linux, and Fedora, among others.

With Latte, you get various configuration options, such as those for its location and alignment, in addition to multiple appearance options and plenty of customizations for actions, scrolling, and other behaviors.

Among other features, Latte Dock supports global shortcuts for applets and tasks, multiple visibility modes, and the ability to use custom layouts.

Installing the Latte Docking Station

Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install latte-dock

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ArchLinux:

sudo pacman -S latte-dock

Fedora/CentOS/RHEL:

sudo dnf install latte-dock

Alternatively, you can also install Latte Dock from source by following the instructions at its GitHub.


platform
Image Credit: Linux Mint (Community)

Docky is a full-fledged dock application with a range of features. It is fully integrated into the GNOME desktop and is easy to use and customize.

Related: The main features of the GNOME desktop environment

With Docky, you get an application launcher and various docklets (widgets) for displaying information. These docklets allow you to add information, such as a CPU monitor, weather report, and clock, directly to your dock.

Docky also offers app integration, which allows you to add more menu items to app context menus to display more information. Likewise, customization is supported, so you can modify some of the components of Docky to suit your needs.

Installing the dock

Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install docky

ArchLinux:

sudo pacman -S docky

Fedora/CentOS/RHEL:

sudo dnf install docky

Plank

Plank is one of the simplest dock apps for Linux. It manages to strike the right balance between what’s essential for a Dock app and what’s not to ensure you’re not overwhelmed with overly complex and confusing options.

That said, with Plank you get the options to customize the dock’s appearance and behavior settings. Plus, like Docky, there’s also support for docklets, and you get a bunch of them, including CPU monitor, battery info, and app shortcuts.

Among these, Clippy is one of the most useful docklets. It saves your clipboard entries and lets you see the contents of your clipboard at a glance.

How to install the board

Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install plank

ArchLinux:

sudo pacman -S plank

Fedora/CentOS/RHEL:

sudo dnf install plank

Dash-to-Dock
Image credit: Michele Gaio/GitHub

Dash to Dock is more like a GNOME Shell extension than an application. It’s ideal for the GNOME desktop and helps turn the dashboard into a dock to provide quick access to apps and faster switching between apps and workspaces.

However, just like standalone dock apps, Dash to Dock also provides a range of customization settings, including basic settings for dock position and icon size for themes and quick actions.

But that said, Dash to Dock works best with Linux distributions that use GNOME, like Ubuntu and Fedora. So if you’re using another distro, you should probably avoid it, or better yet, install the GNOME desktop on your system.


Installation of the dashboard at the dock

You can install Dash to Dock from source. To do this, open the terminal and run:

git clone https://github.com/micheleg/dash-to-dock.git

Then use the CD and ls commands to access the program directory. And then run the following commands to install the dock:

make
make install

Arch users can directly install the package from the AUR using Yay:

yay -S gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-dock

PolyDock
Image credit: Folke Lemaitre/GitHub

Polydock is a highly customizable dock for Linux. It is somewhat inspired by Polybar and can be used with it to deal with its list of missing windows. In fact, you can also use it with other status bar apps.

Speaking of customization, Polydock supports a variety of appearance and behavior options, as well as theme support. Additionally, you can set rules to set custom icons and also use custom window manager commands.

Related: The best window managers for Linux

One of Polydock’s highlighting features is window grouping, which allows you to separate windows into groups and access them quickly. It’s highly configurable, and you can set up triggers for window groups to cycle through window groups or show all open windows in a group, among other actions.

Instructions for installing Polydock on Linux are available at Polydock GitHub.


Tint2
Image Credit: Tint2/GitLab

Tint2 is one of the minimal style docks for Linux. It’s lightweight and works great, making it suitable for less powerful computers.

That being said, Tint2 only includes a few handy features. An example of this is the ability to add a task list, battery monitor, and system tray. Additionally, it also includes support for many Linux window managers. So you can use it with any of them without any problem.

All configurations on Tint2 are saved in a configuration file, which you can modify to your liking using its documentation. Some of these configurable options include fonts, colors, and location. Alternatively, you can also use its graphical configuration tool.

Installing Tint2

Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install tint2

ArchLinux:

sudo pacman -S tint2

Cairo wharf
Image credit: Cairo

Cairo-Dock is a highly customizable Linux dock. It makes more sense when used with some of the more user-friendly desktop environments like XFCE, LXDE, KDE, and Openbox because you get full control over your desktop on them.

With Cairo-Dock, you have the choice between OpenGL and Cairo as the preferred backend for the current session. Alternatively, you can also use a composition manager if you wish.

Additionally, Cairo-Dock gives you the usual configuration options such as changing the position of the dock, customizing launcher icons, changing themes, and setting up your own hotkeys. You can also add add-ons to the dock to make it more functional.

Installation of the Cairo wharf

Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install cairo-dock

ArchLinux:

sudo pacman -S cairo-dock

Fedora/CentOS/RHEL:

sudo dnf install cairo-dock

Improve your Linux desktop experience using a dock

Adding a dock is one way to enhance your Linux desktop experience. It gives a visual overhaul to your setup and adds to its usability by giving you access to apps and other features.

Therefore, finding the right dock app is essential. This way, you can control the position of the docking station, its size, and the applications and utilities it contains to exploit it to its full potential and maximize your productivity.

Not only that, if you’ve recently switched to Linux from Mac and are missing the macOS dock, these dock apps provide the easiest way to get a macOS-like dock in Linux. Sure, there will be several visual differences in appearance, but at least you’ll get most of its features on Linux.


If customization is your only goal, however, there are a few other ways to make your Linux desktop look fantastic you might want to check out.


linux-desktop-look
5 Ways to Make Your Linux Desktop Fantastic

Want a new look for your Linux desktop environment? Learn how to choose new themes, fonts, icon packs, and even custom widgets.

Read more


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Steven L. Nielsen