How To Get a Mac OSX Style Dock In Hardy Heron

For those who are a crazy fan of the Mac OSX dock, you can now install Avant Window Navigator to achieve the similar dock-like effect in Ubuntu Hardy Heron.

Avant Window Navigator Preview

Avant Window Navigator (AWN) is a dock-like navigation bar for the Linux desktop that positions itself at the bottom of the screen. It can be used to keep track of open windows and behaves like a normal window list.

In Hardy Heron, the AWN is included in the repository; which means that you can do a quick install via the Synaptic Package Manager->Avant-Window-Navigator or in the terminal,

sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator

However, I strongly advise you not to install from the Synaptic Package Manger. The AWN package in the Ubuntu repository does not include the AWN-Extra package (contains all the applet and plugins) that forms the best part of the whole AWN application. If you install from the repository, you will only get a dock with no extra functionality.


In order to run AWN, your computer must be able to support composition, which means the ability to render a window translucent/transparent. You must also have a compositing window manager installed in your system.

In Hardy, you don’t have to install another compositing window manager since Compiz is already pre-installed in the system. If you are already running Compiz for all your desktop eye-candy, then you can proceed on with the AWN installation. If you are not sure if your computer supports composition, go to System->Preferences->Appearance. Click on the Visual Effects tab. Select the “Extra” option at the bottom of the window. If no error message shows up, then you are good to go.

Adding repository

In your terminal:

gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following two lines to the end of the file:

deb hardy main
deb-src hardy main

Save and exit.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator-trunk awn-manager-trunk awn-extras-applets-trunk

This will update the repository and install the AWN. Once the installation finishes, you should be able to find Avant-Window-Navigator at Applications-> Accessories

Configuring the AWN

Launch the application. The AWN will now show up at the bottom of the screen. You might want to delete the bottom panel (right click on the panel and select “Delete This Panel”) to avoid overlapping with the AWN

The AWN come with the task manager pre-installed. If you do not have any opened windows, you will only see a thin strip of line, else you will see the icon of your running window on the AWN.

To configure AWN, right click on the end of the AWN and select Preferences.

AWN general preferences

To install applets, select the applet you want in the Preferences->Applets tab and choose ‘Activate‘.

AWN applets preferences

To add launcher to the AWN, simply drag and drop your program from the menu to the AWN. Alternatively you can just click on the Launcher tab and add your own launcher.

To install new theme, first download your favorite theme from AWN Theme, then in the AWN Preferences, select Themes tab. Click ‘Add‘ and navigate to the folder where you download the tar file. Select the tar file to install the theme. Once installed, click on the radio button and select Apply.

AWN themes preferences

To activate AWN everytime you start your computer, check the box “Automatically start AWN on login” on the Preferences-> General screen. If this does not work, go to System->Preferences->Sessions. Click ‘Add‘ and enter avant-window-navigator in all the field.

To enable Leopard like dock, go to Preferences->General->Bar Appearance. On the Look dropdown box, select 3D Look.

AWN bar preferences

The following image is a screenshot of my desktop with AWN.

AWN desktop screenshot(click to enlarge)


  1. > dock-like navigation bar for the Linux desktop
    You mean, for the GNOME desktop, and it may possibly run on the KDE desktop. But not the Linux desktop, as that doesn’t really exist, and if it did it would have to include Enlightenment, Fluxbox, Ratpoison, and other DEs.

  2. I wasn’t that impressed with the stability of the program. It crashed twice on me, and failed to launch on restart. Looks wise, its cute and distracting for a few minutes, but the whole dock concept of interacting with folders, open windows, and programs is flawed. It delivers a strange user experience.

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