10 of the Best Launcher Docks for Linux

Linux Docks Featured Image

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional system administrator, organizing the Linux desktop can feel challenging at times. Luckily, there are a bunch of launcher docks that make desktop organization easier than ever. Linux docks are simple utilities that allow users to quickly switch between apps, monitor programs, and group frequently used software. We take a look at some of the best launcher docks for Linux in this guide.

1. Latte Dock

Latte Dock is a plasma-based dock that offers an intuitive bar and sleek design. It works with KDE plasmoid, and you may use multiple panels if you want. Some of Latte’s other features include parabolic zoom, auto-hide, background blur, and smooth transparency.

Latte in launcher docks for Linux

However, since it’s a KDE package, you will need to manually install the dependencies if you’re using a different environment. This can be a big issue for people who are running Linux on older machines.

2. Plank

If you want a beautiful dock but don’t want to install too many dependencies, look no further than Plank. It is a simple yet elegant Linux dock with some excellent features. The design of this launcher panel is very neat. It is also one of the fastest docks you can use.

Plank dock

Moreover, if you’re into development, you can easily extend Plank’s existing features to match your needs. We’ve outlined how to configure Plank in an earlier guide.

3. Polybar

Polybar is a fast and simple-to-use status bar with a plethora of really cool features. You can tweak the bar any way you want without needing to deal with the source code. As of now, Polybar offers system trays, playback controls, desktop panels, keyboard layouts, menu trees, and various load indicators.

Polybar panel

Moreover, since Polybar is in active development, new features are being added every day. Overall, Polybar will be highly appreciated by people who like to take full control of their dock panels.

4. Docky

Docky is a simple but feature-rich dock panel suitable for starting users. It has built-in support for easy window management, advanced indicators, and multiple themes. Moreover, Docky comes with several little plugins called docklets. You can use them for adding extra features, such as resource monitoring, session management, and so on.

Linux Docks Docky

Docky is also quite customizable and enables users to tweak components very easily. However, the development efforts behind this dock seem to have slowed down quite a bit.

5. Dash to Dock

Dash to Dock is a lightweight extension for GNOME. It’s gaining in popularity due to the rising number of Ubuntu users worldwide. The main selling point for this dock is simplicity. Plus, it is without any doubt one of the most customizable launcher docks for Linux. When you install the Dash to Dock extension, it removes the default dash and takes its place. You can then organize the applications as you wish.

Linux Docks Dash To Dock

However, Dash to Dock is indeed a GNOME extension. Users of different Linux desktop environments may face issues integrating it into their desktop.

6. tint2

tint2 is a minimal dock panel designed for modern Linux desktops. It is a lightweight dock and performs relatively well, even on older hardware. One key benefit of this taskbar is that it works out of the box on most desktop environments. Plus, it’s easy to customize the dock components, such as icons, fonts, and transparency. Some of its other features include multi-monitor integration, running simultaneous panels, and i3wm integration.

Tin2

7. Cairo Dock

Cairo Dock is certainly one of the most popular docks for Linux. It offers a fast, simple, and productive panel to organize frequently used applications and switch between them. The powerful DBus interface, provided by Cairo, makes it easy to control the dock from other applications. Moreover, users can integrate it with several popular tools, like Pidgin, Thunderbird, KTorrent, Twitter, and Google Translate.

Linux Docks Cairo

8. DockbarX

DockbarX is a lightweight Linux dock suitable for minimal desktop environments like XFCE. You can either use it as a standalone dock or configure it as an applet for XFCE, Mate, or GNOME desktops. DockbarX also offers a variety of themes to choose from. Overall, it’s a nice open-source launcher dock that runs smoothly on older systems.

Dockbarx

9. KSmoothDock

KSmoothDock is yet another KDE-based dock for Linux. It offers some quality features, including an intuitive app menu, several visibility modes, support for drag and drop, and so on. KSmoothDock also supports parabolic zooming and cascading-style menus. However, like most KDE tools, you need to install several dependencies to run this on a different desktop environment.

Ksmoothdock

10. i3status

i3status is a minimal and lightweight dock panel aimed at terminal heavyweights. It works with several bars and panels, including i3bar, dzen2, and xmobar. You can use it to easily create personalized launcher docks for Linux. Moreover, i3status uses only a handful of system calls, making it resource-efficient and fast. Overall, it’s a suitable utility for customization enthusiasts.

I3status bar

Wrapping Up

Linux offers many types of application launchers and dock panels. Standalone docks like Latte or Plank are suitable for beginners. Advanced users can choose from a number of customizable dock panels.

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Rubaiat Hossain Rubaiat Hossain

Rubaiat is a CS graduate who possesses hands-on experience with Unix Administration, Web Programming, DevOps, and Virtualization. He has a strong passion for enlightening people in open-source technologies.

4 comments

  1. What is the advantage of using a Launcher Dock versus launching apss from the Start Menu or the Task Bar or even from the Desktop? As I see it, a Launcher Dock is just another Icon Bar or Menu Bar needing to be maintained. It is also another app that is constantly running. If I put all my most used apps on the Launcher Dock, it gets as crowded as my Start Menu, in which case I might as well use my Start Menu instead of a Launcher Dock.

  2. My distro of choice allows multiple system panels – which is a heck of a lot easier than any of the third party dock bars. I use this extensively. I keep a launcher to every app/program I use at least once a day on it, plus a few applets on each bar. Quite productive.

  3. Docky is no longer compatible with newer Linux distributions. It’s not even available in most of the Linux distribution repositories and therefore cannot be installed.

    It shouldn’t be feature in your article and is misleading for new users.

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