Official website:
Current stable version: 2.1.4 
Released: 2012-03-24 
Current development version: 2.2.0 
Released: 2013-05-02


Docky is availble in the Debian repositories. As you might expect, 2.1.4 is in Wheezy and 2.2.0 in Jessie and Sid. As it is in active development, I opted to install 2.2.0 which pulled in nearly 48MB of dependencies. There were no other docky-plugin or docky-applet packages to install.

Running Docky

Docky appeared in the applications menu under Accessories and created a small dock, centred on the bottom edge when first run:
Docky First Run

As you move your mouse over the icons, they zoom in in the style of Cairo or AWN. The anchor icon launches the Docky preferences window. At the end of the dock sits a trashcan. (There’s a trashcan at the end of the Unity dock as well and I can’t understand the obsession with looking at files we’ve deleted!) A blue spot under each icon indicates that the application is running. You need to right-click on an application’s icon to see the window list. There are no live previews and it does not distinguish between open tabs in Firefox. Open windows can be pinned to the dock as you might expect.


Docky is customized by clicking on the anchor icon or right-clicking the dock and choosing settings. There are all the usual configurations you might expect. You can change the theme, set it in panel or dock mode, auto-hide, set the length of the dock, change the size and/or zoom effect on icons. Each theme can be presented flat or with a 3D (think Mac OS-X) effect. You can also drag the dock to any screen edge. There is a useful option to enable auto-start which will automatically start Docky when you log in.

What you don’t get to do is to manually affect the colour or transparency of the theme, you can merely change the theme to achieve a different look. The themes probably represent most effects/looks anyone is going to want and more are available online. See here for more details on the default and community themes:

One minor niggle, is that when you enter the settings dialog, the rest of your desktop is darkened and whilst this makes you focus on the dock, it makes it difficult to see how the changes will interact with your desktop until you apply the changes and exit the dialog:
Docky Settings Dialog


Docky comes pre-loaded with a number of (potentially) useful applets called docklets. These include the trashcan, a clock, weather, gmail, network manager, battery, CPU monitor, clipboard and recent documents amongst others. Docklets cannot be physically dragged around the dock, but have to be moved using the preferences dialog.

Out of them all, the weather applet was the most impressive. Once configured for your location, it displays the current weather, but if you click the icon, it takes over the dock and shows the weather for the next 5 days:
Docky Weather Docklet

The session manager docklet was weird in that it showed a static clock icon when using the elementary XFCE icon scheme and no icon when using the Gnome icon scheme.

As with some of the other docks I've tried, the docklets are all of a standard size and match the icon size of the main dock. There isn't a notification area type docklet or applications menu docklet, so Docky can’t really replace a conventional desktop panel. (although I suppose something like Cardapio could be pinned to the dock).

One final gripe, is that there is no easy/obvious way to remove the Docky anchor icon. Once configured to my liking I don’t want the settings icon to take up valuable screen space. (if you really want to remove it, you’ll need to install gconf-editor and follow these directions:

Docky can be further extended through the use of helpers, but this requires dockmanager installing which is not available in Debian and is no longer supported in Ubuntu:

Stability/Resource Use

When running a dock with 4 applets and 4 pinned applications (none running), Docky used up an extra 35MB of RAM. Stability seemed fine and I didn’t encounter any lock-ups or glitches whilst I was using it. Themes were applied quickly and efficiently, animations were smooth.

Overall Impressions

Docky is a good looking dock that can give you a very similar look and feel to Cairo dock, but with much better stability. As a dock, it is perfectly serviceable, doing all the things a standard dock should. However, I felt that that it was lacking in a few key areas, notably lack of menu docklet and notification area, so Docky is going to tend to be an addition to your current choice of desktop panel, rather than a replacement.

Score /10
Ease of installation     10
Customization     7
Features     7
Stability     9
Overall     7.5

And after a little bit of work, this is the look I settled on with my short time with Docky:
Docky final look

Copyright (c) RichJack 2014
Written with StackEdit.
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  1. xfce with docky, in my opinion is a perfect desktop for power users and standard users alike. i use at home on my main PC, as well as on my workstation at work where I manage 50+ servers and around 300 workstations. blows windows out of the water when it comes to creating a very efficient desktop environment where productivity is key. remmina and quake terminal make my job a breeze.

  2. Yes, xfce with docky makes a pretty good desktop. However, docky still lacks improvements for usability like stacks, which osx had already back in 2008. This makes me sad when I think of all the wasted resources on that ugly unity launcher or the gnome-gtk3 monstrosity. If there only where more common sense and continuousness in open source/Linux developers.