A Mac like dock for your Linux desktop

That fancy row of icons at the bottom of the Mac OS X desktop is pretty good, you have to admit. Hence the multitude of copy-cats that followed on other OS’s, none of which really matching the quality of the OS X dock. However, with advances in 3D desktop support, Avant Window Navigator (AWN) has stepped up, and is beginning to mark its territory, all over the OS X dock.

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What makes AWN stand out from the rest, is its abilities as a task manager and system tray, removing the need for separate panels on your desktop for things like volume control, network status, and a taskbar. In fact, AWN should handle pretty much all of your needs, keeping your desktop clutter free. It does however, require compositing support (3D desktop effects) such as Compiz Fusion in order to function. Refer to your distributions documentation for more information on this.

For those unfamiliar with the OS X dock, you launch an application by simply clicking its icon. The application opens and a small arrow appears below the icon to signify that the application is now running. Clicking the icon of a running application will either bring it to the front, or maximise/minimise it depending on its current state. When several applications are running, switching between them is as simple as clicking the icons on the dock.

AWN takes these basic features of the OS X dock and adds much, much more…..

C u s t o m i s a t i o n

The AWN Manager application gives you extensive options to configure the look and feel of the dock. Amongst the more obvious options such as the colour and size of the dock, you can also choose between a 2D flat dock or 3D angled dock effect, change the animated effects of the icons and change the icon offset from the bar.

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C u s t o m L a u n c h e r s

AWN is pretty naked when it’s first installed so you need to populate it with ‘launchers’ yourself. The easiest method is by dragging icons from your applications menu straight into the dock. Another method is the AWN Manager application, which allows a little more customisation when creating launchers. Changing a launcher icon to a custom one can be done either within AWN Manager or by right clicking a launcher once it’s been added to the dock.

A p p l e t s

This is where AWN really shines. Small applets allow the AWN dock to perfom all kinds of functions. Including a main menu, file browser, desktop switcher and last.fm client.

B l i n g S w i t c h e r – a nice looking desktop switcher applet

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L a s t . f m – A miniature Last.fm client featuring album art icons.

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T h e m e s

AWN is skinnable and various themes are currently available from the AWN wiki. 

P l u g i n s

Several plugins also exist for AWN, at the moment these consist of a selection of audio player plugins, which convert the icon in the dock to the cover art of the currently playing track, and for internet applications such as Pidgin, which displays a different icon in the dock depending on your IM status.

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Created by Londoner Neil Patel around a year ago, Avant Window Navigator takes what the OS X dock does best and adds a few more tricks of its own, not only those mentioned above. For an application in such early stages of development it has great potential, and on my Ubuntu Gutsy box, has been stable enough to use on a daily basis. The only issues i’ve found, is being unable to reposition the dock to the side or top of the desktop (this should be implemented in a future release) and transparency of the system tray icons doesn’t seem to work on my setup, leaving them sat inside a grey box. AWN is available as a binary package for most of the major Linux distributions here >>>  Check the prerequisites on the wiki before installing.

AWN Wiki >>>

AWN Launchpad >>>

Neil Patel’s Blog (creator of AWN) >>>

Mac OS X Leopard dock >>>

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