A new version of the quick-firing Linux keyboard launcher GNOME Do landed last week, bringing with it a “theme” that acts as a whole new desktop interface. Let’s check out how it works.
If you’re just getting started with GNOME Do, head to the release page and check out how to download the latest version for your distribution. Using the Docky “theme” requires a 3D compositing manager like Compiz Fusion, or GNOME’s built-in 3D effects.
After installing GNOME Do, launch it from your applications menu or with a
gnome-do terminal command. Click the options arrow in the upper-right of the main window, and set your keyboard shortcut (Windows key + Space is the default) and choose the “Docky” theme. You’ll get a strip across the bottom of your screen, re-sizable by dragging on the edges with a mouse, and still functional as your main GNOME Do window for searches and action shortcuts.
When it first launches, GNOME Do fills your dock bar with
recently frequently accessed items, book-ended by a GNOME Do options button on the far left and a functional trash can on the right end:
That calendar item is actually a link to a Google Calendar event I created in GNOME Do, and as seen above, Docky knows what tools to offer for it.
Removing these items is a quick right-click option, or a drag onto the desktop if you want to preserve the shortcut. Left alone, Docky will keep your dock, whatever size you’ve made it, filled with items you’ve recently accessed, but you can pin any file, folder or shortcut to the dock and keep it there:
When you’ve got apps with multiple windows and documents open, Docky takes the Windows 7 approach, giving you access to each window and document. You can also see at a glance how many windows are open for each app by checking the little LED-like blips under each icon:
The real reason the GNOME Do team incorporated Docky wasn’t to start a needless competition with AWN for dominance of the desktop’s bottom edge, though. Docky integrates directly with what you get done in GNOME Do’s launcher. So, let’s say you find yourself repeatedly tapping in the shortcut to create a new Remember the Milk task, check a certain Google Calendar, IM a frequent contact through Pidgin, or any of the other plugin-powered abilities of GNOME Do; the launcher transforms Docky into a standard, contextual launcher reminiscent of Quicksilver for Macs:
If you want to keep a search, shortcut, or just about anything you can pull up in the launcher window handy, hit the little “+” sign in the lower-left when it’s pulled up, and it’s pinned to your Docky bar, with smart right-click contexts kept in tact:
There’s not much more to show in screenshots, because Docky, like GNOME Do, is all about figuring out a system that works for you, using a wide array of wide-open tools. I’ll say here, however, that Docky doesn’t offer the customized looks, responses, or effects of a dock like AWN, but it’s seriously fast, and, at least in my Ubuntu 8.10 experience, less crash-prone than AWN and its many Python-powered dock applets.
Read more on Docky’s features at its wiki page. Have you been checking out Docky or the latest GNOME Do? What do you like, and what still needs improvement? Publish your reviews in the comments.