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Cairo-Dock is an animated application launch bar for the desktop, comparable to the dock in Mac OS X or Rocket Dock (for Windows). Now, you can use Cairo-Dock with OpenGL (to use your graphic card!). You can find some screenshots here.

Since Cairo-Dock 2.4 (by default on Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric), it's possible to launch a Cairo-Dock session: it will launch a Gnome session with Compiz (or Metacity) without any panel/dash except Cairo-Dock. But Cairo-Dock is compatible with most WMs (Compiz-Fusion, Beryl, Compiz, Metacity, Kwin, etc.), most environments (Gnome, XFCE, LXDE, KDE, etc.), most sessions/panels/dashes (Unity, Gnome-Shell, XFCE panel, LXDE panel, KDE panel, etc.). It's better with a composite manager (if your WM doesn't support the compositing -- e.g. if you're a black/non transparent background -- simply install Compton or Xcompmgr), but it can also use fake transparency.

This page only describes how to install Cairo-Dock and some basic usage instructions. If you want to know more about configuration and themes you should go to the Cairo-Dock website, its wiki and read this tutorial. The site is in French and in English, the wiki has a complete English section and don't be afraid to ask questions or report bugs in the forum.


The project is split into two parts: the dock itself and the plug-ins. Only the installation of the dock is explained, but installing the plug-ins is the same, just make sure you install the plug-ins after the dock.

The config file will not be overwritten during updates as Cairo-Dock is capable of inserting the missing fields if any without losing your previous settings.

Please note that, although Cairo-Dock is listed in the Universe repository since Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) and can be installed using Synaptic Package Manager, but it is recommended to install Cairo-Dock using one of the methods described below to get the most up-to-date and stable version of Cairo-Dock.

From the Repository/PPA (Stable)

Cairo-Dock devs maintain their own repository and a PPA for all supported versions of Ubuntu.


Simply launch these commands from a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cairo-dock-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update

If Cairo-Dock is already installed, install the updates by using the Update Manager or this command:

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

If not, install it via the Software Center or via this command:

sudo apt-get install cairo-dock cairo-dock-plug-ins

Cairo-Dock repository

To add the Cairo-Dock repository to your sources simply launch these commands from a terminal:

sudo -v

echo "deb $(lsb_release -sc) cairo-dock ## Cairo-Dock-Stable" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cairo-dock cairo-dock-plug-ins # OR if it's already installed => # sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Development version: PPA (can be unstable)

A PPA is regularly updated. You can add it and install the latest version of Cairo-Dock with these commands launched from a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cairo-dock-team/weekly
sudo apt-get update >/dev/null
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Development version: Compilation (can be unstable)

A script has been written to compile the BZR version of Cairo-Dock easily. So, you just have to create a directory where the script will be installed in, download the script and launch it:

Open a terminal, and create a new directory:

mkdir /cairo-dock_bzr
cd /cairo-dock_bzr

Then get the script, make it executable and launch it:

chmod u+x

Simply follow the instructions (in English)

To finish, enter your own password when prompted by the script in order to proceed with to the installation.

A line will appear after the installation of each module and a final message will appear indicating that everything went well. If not, consult the log.txt file in the directory you have created at the beginning. Look at the end to locate the problem, then post it in the forum.

What is installed?

Cairo-Dock stores your launchers and your parameters in a hidden directory, ~/.config/cairo-dock

Also, binaries are in /usr/bin and data (including the default themes) in /usr/share

First Launch

If you installed Cairo-Dock from the packages, you can logout to launch the new Cairo-Dock session or if you want to use it on your current session, there should be a launcher in the applications menu, under the System Tools sub-menu. If there isn't a launcher there, just press Alt+F2 and type in cairo-dock. To enable backtraces on launch (sometimes useful if a problem occurs), open a terminal and type cairo-dock & disown and press enter.

On first launch, Cairo-Dock will configure itself and will offer you a list of themes to choose from. This allows you to have a fully functional dock immediately. You will have to move the mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen to see the dock if auto-hide has been enabled. This depends on the theme you chose at launch.

If you want to use another theme, right click on the dock and select Cairo-Dock > Configure > Themes. To configure the dock's settings, right click the dock and select Cairo-Dock > Configure.

REM: Cairo-Dock has a support of OpenGL. If you want to use it automatically, simply launch Cairo-Dock with cairo-dock -o. Note that the OpenGL can be badly supported by your video drivers but most of them support it well (have a look the wiki of Cairo-Dock for more details).

See Also

Cairo-Dock is not the only dock but has many possibilities (OpenGL support, many effects and views, many plug-ins, fast, a dynamic project, etc.).

External Links


CairoDock (last edited 2014-01-10 00:12:02 by matttbe)