A dock is a graphical user interface element that allows the user to have one-click access to frequently used applications. This type of utility also enables users to switch quickly between applications, as well as to monitor programs. This type of application is an excellent way of extending the functionality and usefulness of the desktop. In recent times, the popularity of the dock has been enhanced by the Mac OS X operating system.
We have seen software applications that emulate the appearance of the Mac OS X desktop on Linux. Mac4Lin is a popular way of giving the Linux desktop the complete Mac look. However, many users do not want to go that far and replicate the Mac look in its entirety. Instead, some users simply want the functionality provided by the application dock element. Here step forwards the Linux dock. However, do not think of Linux docks as simply being a replication of the OS X dock. The very best ones add new functionality, and are more extensible than their OS X counterpart.
The concept of the dock dates back many decades. Acorn Computer’s Arthur and NeXT’s NEXTSTEP are early examples of operating systems that implemented the dock concept.
Linux has a good selection of docks to choose from. One dock which does not feature in this article but is worthy of a mention is Daisy. This is a dock for KDE4 which is at an early stage of development.
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 5 docks that genuinely add to the desktop experience. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for the desktop user.
Now, let’s explore the 5 docks at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, screenshots, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.
|Docky||Elegant, powerful, clean dock|
|Avant Window Navigator||Mac OS X like panel for GNOME|
|Cairo-Dock||Light and eye-candy dock to launch your programs|
|Simdock||Fast and customizable dockbar|
|wbar||Simple panel designed with speed in mind|