Docky makes Xubuntu look pretty

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:

skippy-xd --start-daemon

To make F3 act as the expose hot-key navigate in the main menu to “Settings” > “Keyboard” > “Application Shortcuts” and add the following command:

skippy-xd --activate-window-picker

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.


How to run OSX in a VM on VirtualBox


Would it not be great to be able to run OSX on a virtual machine? Now you can*! All you need is a disk image of the retail DVD of “Apple Mac OSX Snow Leopard 10.6” and you can install it inside VirtualBox. Alternatively if you have a Mac (or know somebody who does) you can create a bootable image of (the free) “Apple Mac OSX Yosemite 10.10” and install that version. Instructions below.

Apple Mac OSX Snow Leopard 10.6

You need:

  1. VirtualBox 4
  2. ISO of retail DVD for “Apple Mac OSX Snow Leopard 10.6” (buy here)
  3. Follow instructions carefully

Open VirtualBox and create a virtual machine named “osx”. Then close the entire VirtualBox application and go to the command line. Run:

VBoxManage modifyvm osx --cpus 1
VBoxManage modifyvm osx --vram 128
VBoxManage setextradata osx VBoxInternal2/EfiGopMode 5
VBoxManage setextradata osx "VBoxInternal2/SmcDeviceKey" "ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc"

Open VirtualBox again and start the virtual machine. Mount “Apple Mac OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard Retail.iso” and install. After installation (30 minutes) the system will reboot and it is ready for use.

Apple Mac OSX Yosemite 10.10

You need:

  1. VirtualBox 4
  2. Bootable image of “Apple Mac OSX Yosemite 10.10” (using “iesd”)
  3. Follow instructions carefully

The latest version of Apple’s OSX can also be run under VirtualBox. Download it for free from the “Apple App Store”. You do need a Mac with a valid Apple-id for this. Make sure you have the “XCode Command-Line tools” installed on this Mac. Then run the following commands to convert the download into a bootable disk image:

gem install iesd
iesd -i /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ -o Desktop/yosemite.dmg -t BaseSystem

Move “yosemite.dmg” to your Virtualbox environment and use it instead of the Snow Leopard DVD image. Note that this image does support multiple CPUs, so this will allow you to speed things up.

*) Known issues

Here are the issues on the various platforms:

  • OSX 10.6 [Linux] can only be used with a single CPU
  • OSX 10.6 [Linux] sound is not working properly
  • OSX 10.10 [Linux] cannot login on Linux
  • OSX 10.10 [Linux] graphics are very slow
  • OSX 10.10 [Linux] sound is not working

Note that Apple only allows and supports running OSX in a VM on OSX. As you can see I only tested on Ubuntu 14.04 as a host (which is not supported). Let me know whether or not the above instructions work for you (on Windows or OSX).


It is not working very well (out-of-the-box), but it does work a little. Enough to get you started. With some serious tinkering you may even fix it to an acceptable level. If you do, please let me know!