Plank, installation and configuration of this simple dock

about plank dock

In the next article we are going to take a look at Plank. This dock seeks to be the simplest of all those available. The goal is to provide just what is needed in a dock, and absolutely nothing else. Without a doubt, this is a lightweight Dock written in Vala, which consumes little resources.

Plank’s setup is sparse, but it still does the job it was built to do exemplary. If what you are looking for is something more spectacular in effects and graphics, you may prefer to use other launchers such as Cairo-Dock or Avant Window Navigator.

Install Plank on Ubuntu

If you are using Ubuntu or a compatible distribution like Mint, you can find Plank in the default repositories. To install it, you just need to open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and run in it:

sudo apt install plank

If you prefer use your PPA to install this dock, open a terminal and add the repository:

add repo plank

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ricotz/docky

After updating the software list, you can now run the install command:

install plank

sudo apt-get install plank

When Plank is installed, you can find the dock launcher on your computer to run.

plank launcher

Use Plank

Using Plank is very simple and does not differ from the typical toolbars with icons on any desktop. The program comes preconfigured with some of the most popular applications. You will only need to click on one of the icons to start the selected program.

plank running

Plank supports dynamic menus that show some functions of each application. For example, by right-clicking on a terminal icon, we can open a new window or access its preferences.

terminal options in plank

By right-clicking the icon of a media player application, you can pause or resume playback, skip tracks, and more.

player options in plank

For rearrange the icons in Plank, we will only need to hold down the mouse button while dragging the icon to where we want to place it in the dock.

move plank icon

For remove an icon, all you have to do is click the left mouse button and drag it out of the base, or right-click and uncheck ‘Keep on the dock‘.


plank preferences

To access the Plank options, we can right click directly on the empty space to the left or right of the dock and its menu will appear. This should be so, but sometimes it doesn’t work. If you are in this case, you can also hold down the key Ctrl and right-click anywhere on the dock. This will also show the Plank menu. In this we will only need to choose the option preferences to access the options.

In the preferences we will find three groups to work on; Appearance, Behavior and Aggregates.


plank appearance settings

In the Appearance section we will be able to change plank theme and dock position on screen (up, down, right or left). We can also disable the default restriction that keeps the dock on the main screen, which will make it appear on other available monitors.

Also here we will find some control over the appearance of the icons. We will can change the alignment and size of icons. Plank may not be the most elegant dock in this regard, but it does offer a zoom effect that we can enable and configure.


plank behavior settings

In the Behavior section we can choose how Plank will be hidden when a window tries to occupy the same screen space. This dock can respond to an approaching window, but a delay can also be added to hide itself. In addition, we can deactivate the function completely and make Plank always remain on the screen, this means that it will overlap the window.

By disabling the option ‘Show unpinned icons‘, which is enabled by default, you can force Plank to only show the apps you have manually pinned and ignore all others.

If we enable the option ‘Lock icons‘, current icons will be pasted where they are and prohibit any adjustments to their location.

Restrict to work area‘will make Plank just show apps that are active in current workspace and ignore the rest.


settings added in plank

The last section will allow us to add the functionality of a toolbar to Plank. Instead of presenting only icons for pinned and active apps, we can add a ‘Start Menu‘for access to all installed software, a battery indicator, a clock, etc.

Plank may not be the most impressive dock we can find for Ubuntu, but it does offer a perfect balance between looks and functionality. It can get more information at project website.

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