8 Of The Best Linux Dockapps

How much functionality can you pack into a 64×64 square? That’s the basic question behind many dockapps – utilities that can be run on the “dock” of many popular desktop environments. While most of them are designed for Step-type window managers such as Windowmaker, these dockapps can also run in things like XFCE, Fluxbox and Openbox. They include system monitors, volume controls, program launchers, email checkers and more. Today we’ll check out some of the more useful dockapps out there, and each will include screen shots, descriptions, and any little notes that might help when it comes to usage.

All of the dockapps below are available in the standard Ubuntu repositories. Most of these, and many additional dockapps, can be found at Dockapps.org. Also, as hinted in the opening paragraph, most of these are designed with Windowmaker in mind, which is why so many start with the letters wm.


dockapps-wmsmpmonCPU monitor focusing on multi-core processors. It will show you graphs indicating the workload of each core. The example screenshot here is demonstrating that one core of a 2-core chip is very busy while the other is mostly idle.

Notes: Clicking on the main graph will toggle different graph mode options. If you have a preferred mode, you can specify it at the command line with


dockapps-mixerappA simple and clean volume adjustment dockapp. The controls can be set to handle different sound sources, so it’s simple to customize. Details on specifying a sound source can be found in mixer.app’s man page.

Notes: While the package is mixer.app, the executable is capitalized as Mixer.app, and that’s what you’ll need to launch it.


dockapps-wmaudaA remote control dockapp for Audacious. Can be used to launch the program and control playback. Includes things like start, stop, and next, but no volume control. Because of that, it combines well with mixer.app.

Notes: Inactive icon and launch command can be set from the command line when starting wmauda.


dockapps-wmdiskmonWith this dockapp, you can monitor multiple drives and partitions for use. Each drive can be specified from the command line. For example, the command used to launch the instance shown in the screen shot was


dockapps-wmforkplopThis uses pulses of glowing light in the background to show forking activity, and more detailed text information showing the top processes in the foreground. It’s a clever way to add a piece of useful eye candy on top of already valuable information.

Notes: You can pass the --no-top or --no-fork options at the command line to show only forking or process information.


dockapps-hdplopSimilar to wmforkplop, this dockapp shows you bright spots during times of high activity. If you’re looking for something with a lot of precision, wmhdplop may not be for you. The bursts of light just give a general idea of activity as opposed to a specific percentage.

Notes: During times of high disk activity, wmhdplop can show an indicator at the top of the box indicating the current data rate.


dockapps-wmmemloadA memory and swap notification app. Backlight can be toggled by clicking pretty much anywhere inside the box.

Notes: Some find this app more useful if you pass it the -b and -c options on startup to avoid counting buffers and cache.


dockapps-wmmiscA very multifunctional litle dockapp, wmmisc shows you the current user count, total process count, running process count, uptime and load average. In other words, some of the most useful information not provided by the previously mentioned apps.

Notes: Unfortunately, there are essentially no config options for wmmisc and you can’t change the information it displays.

If you’ve got any other favorite dockapps, make sure to drop a comment below.

Joshua Price

Josh Price is a senior MakeTechEasier writer and owner of Rain Dog Software


  1. Dock Apps are the main reason I don’t leave fluxbox. You can use dockapps in XFCE with the WMDock plugin http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/panel-plugins/xfce4-wmdock-plugin and even KDE 1, 2, and 3 (but not 4) has a dock pannel.

    I would recommend using wmix instead of mixer.app because you can adujust your volume just by rolling the scroll wheel over the wmix dock app.

    I use yakuake or Tilda (a dropdown terminal) and Finch (a terminal version of pidgin). Then I set sounds/notifications to be triggered with wmmsg_notify. So at that point the dock app wmmsg will give me a visual indicator when someone sends me a message in pidgin. When I get a message, F12 will show me finch, I can then respond and use F12 to make finch go away. A real productivity booster at wrosk.

  2. Is there a way to run windowmaker dockapps without windowmaker? As the article says, windowmaker is probably the most common dockapp target, but I don’t run it. (I know, I’m wrong-thinking for not using the One True WM, but I’m not, and I’m not going to.) So does anyone know of a stanalone wm dock?

    (Incidentally “XWindows Dock” is a Windows XP application designed to look like a Mac.)

    1. As the other commenter noted, yes you can in many, but not all. No worries about not running The One True WM, I find very few who do. In fact I remember a Slashdot poll where people voted for one of the top 10 or so desktop environments, and even with all the popular options listed, more people voted for “other” than Windowmaker.

      It really is a nice setup though =)

  3. Yes you can run windowmaker dock apps without windowmaker. They are pretty useless just floating around on the screen. The really need to be docked someplace. Depending on the WM the place they go is called a dock, or a wharf, or a list or a panel. BlackBox, OpenBox, FluxBox and Windowmaker all have native built-in-automatic-it-just-works support for dockapps. KDE 3 and XFCE 4 also have support for dock apps. KDE 4 and Gnone do not.

  4. I made a Dockapp two years ago: DWGO. http://www.dockapps.org/file.php/id/364 I hope you like it.

    Like Elder Geek I don’t leave fluxbox because of dockapps :)

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