Xubuntu is my favorite Linux distribution. It is fast, pretty and minimal. Right now I am running version 15.04 and 14.04 (LTS). Previous versions used to have a sort of a dock on the bottom, but current versions do not have that. In the current version the top panel holds the “Application Menu”, “Window Buttons” and the “Notification Area”. When you move that panel down it will be familiar to Windows XP users. In order to make the transition for Mac OSX users easier you may some more adjustments. Apple desktop users need features like: a dock, expose and a quick launcher.
1) Docky is a good looking icon dock
Docky is a dock that looks great and indicates open programs, so it can be a replacement for your “Window buttons” in the taskbar. Removing these from the panel is easy (right-click). I recommend installing docky with the following command:
sudo apt-get install docky
There are two tricks you may want to execute after installation, read about them below.
Docky: Remove the anchor icon
Docky has by default an anchor icon in the dock. It allows you to configure the dock. This can also be done by right-clicking a border or a separator, so you don’t really need the anchor icon. You can simple remove the anchor icon using the following command (source):
gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/docky-2/Docky/Items/DockyItem/ShowDockyItem False
You may replace “False” at the end of the line with “True” to revert the change.
Docky: Wrong Thunar and Terminal icons
The “Thunar” and “Terminal” icons may look bad/weird and the applications may have double entries in the dock. This problem is less serious than it looks. It is caused by Docky not being able find the corresponding application shortcuts (that contain the icon path). This can easily be fixed with the following commands (source):
sudo cp /usr/share/applications/xfce4-terminal.desktop ~/.local/share/applications
sudo cp /usr/share/applications/Thunar.desktop ~/.local/share/applications
NB: You may encounter other applications with this problem, but this easily fixed in a similar fashion.
2) Skippy-XD adds expose functionality
The “expose” functionality is in which a click-able miniature version of all windows are shown in a non-overlapping layout to enable quick and pretty switching of applications. For Ubuntu there is “Skippy-XD” an application that does exactly that. It has a daemon mode and a run once mode. The daemon mode is very usable. Here is how to install skippy-xd (source):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:landronimirc/skippy-xd-daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install skippy-xd
To make start during login navigate in the main menu to “Settings” > “Session and Startup” > “Application Autostart” and add the following command:
To make F3 act as the expose hot-key navigate in the main menu to “Settings” > “Keyboard” > “Application Shortcuts” and add the following command:
Now logout and login to see whether the application indeed works as intended.
3) Launchy is a great quick launcher
You know how convenient you can search on OSX with a Ctrl-Space? This can easily and beautifully be configured using the “Launchy” application. This can easily be installed using the following command:
sudo apt-get install launchy launchy-plugins
After installation you may have to edit the settings to make launchy properly index you “Documents” and “Downloads” folders. Also make sure you check out the plugin configurations.
After installing and configuring these applications your Xubuntu is feeling a bit more like OSX. For people that are switching operating systems this may be a good thing (they could also try Elementary OS). I personally dislike having a dock and prefer the gnome 2 layout with 2 panels: one on top with the main menu and one on the bottom with the window buttons. This is exactly why power users like Linux: you can customize it to fit your needs.