Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Docks in Ubuntu

Mac's use a nifty looking dock at the bottom of the screen instead of the bar we Ubuntu users have. I thought it sounded like a novel idea, and figured there was a reason that all of the mac users like it.

Reporting back after trying AWN, Docky, and a few other no name ones: They all suck

They are a little fun at first but none of them are ready for prime time. Here are the major disadvantages I noticed. They didn't all have all of these problems, but they all had some.

  • Transparency. Sure it looks nifty to have a "3D" dock, but it eats up resources and compiz needs to be enabled to use it! The only thing I've found pretty that compiz adds as are the drop shadows behind windows and even those piss me off when I have two windows side by side! Transparent window titles is a silly idea, that is where the most important data is that I need to see. I can live without the smooth maximize and minimize. It is nice little bit of gloss, but if I am closing a window it is because I want it out of the way, the faster the better.
  • Stacks / Organization / Drawer It is terrible to try and put all of your web browsers in a folder labeled "Web Browsers" with a web browser icon. I just wanted to have access to each of the browsers in one spot. This goes double for the bar that is already there, just don't bother using the Drawer feature, terrible. End Result: Just lay them all out across the top bar, there is plenty of space up there.
  • Window Management So I thought window management and program management would be the two main reasons for these docks, to nicely combine the two and look pretty. Wrong-O. They all stink. Docky uses the ugliest transitions to let you know you've clicked on an icon, a different ugly one for when the program loads, heck the dumb thing changes size when you hover over it. All of them had issues combining the icons for the launcher and the windows that were opened. I don't know if it is a "mac-standard" to keep these separate, but it is confusing as hell. You have notepad open and accidentally click on the launcher instead of the window? Well you are going to fire up another copy of notepad. "Slightly annoying" you say? Try doing it with Picassa or Virtual Box, not so funny.
  • Themes Dear lord these can be hideous and annoying to "rate". I am sure there are some OK ones out there, and the 4 in AWN that look nearly identical aren't bad, but the majority of them are painful to look at. There is one that is supposed to model ancient china or something; wooden panel, samurai icons that all look the same. Oh yeah, that one made me stop and think about who made that one.
This isn't an in depth review, it is just some advice; "Stick with what Ubuntu has given you, it works better than you think" The one change I have made after all of this is a simple one.
  1. Right click on the divider of the Window List on the bottom panel
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Change "Window Grouping" to Always
  4. Hit Close
Best of luck staying organized,

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