For 13 years now, I have used Ubuntu in many of its official flavors and unofficial distros. I am also a macOS user and it is probably Apple's fault that I like having a dock in a certain way. In Ubuntu MATE I installed a dock, in Kubuntu I wanted to get used to what it brings, but I've never liked Ubuntu's dock / dash since they switched to Unity ... until I've made some changes to it.
As you know, the Ubuntu dock / dash is on the left and is a dark color for me, not attractive. In addition, it occupies the entire side of the screen where we have it configured, not to mention that there is a lot of space that is empty if we do not add many applications. In this opinion post I will tell you how I have put it and how I enjoy a improved dock without the need to install any packages extra.
Table of Contents
Changes that improve the Ubuntu dock
Put it at the bottom and make it hide automatically
As I mentioned above, this is an opinion piece, and in my opinion a dock has to be in the lower part. The change can be done natively, that is, from the Settings app by going to Dock / Position on screen, displaying the menu and choosing "Lower". From the same section we can make it auto-hide. In this way, any window that we have open will show more content, something especially important on laptops.
From the preferences of the dock we can also change the size of the icons, but I usually leave it by default.
Change the opacity of the dock
By default, the Ubuntu dock has a dark, opaque color, which I don't like. I prefer it more transparent and with these two commands we will activate and configure a different transparency. The first activates the option:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock transparency-mode 'FIXED'
With the second, we change the opacity:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock background-opacity 0.0
In the above command, the "0.0" means that it will be completely transparent. If we put "1.0" without the quotes, it will be totally opaque.
Center it and let the size vary
With the two previous changes, what we will have will be a dock at the bottom transparent that will make the app icons "float", but they will be displaced to the left. I think the best option is keep it centered and we will achieve this with another command, which is the following:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock extend-height false
With this command, what we are telling you is that the width from part to part is turned off. By not defining any width, it will depend on the applications that we have open. The "original" size will be the necessary to host the applications that we have placed as favorites, but it will grow every time we open an app new.
Shall we put the typical Unity background on it?
This change I add, but I am undecided. I'm testing with it and removing it and I don't know if I prefer it totally transparent or with the typical Unity background. I leave it to your choice. To achieve this, what we will do is open a terminal and write this command:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock unity-backlit-items true
If we don't like the change, we can deactivate it by changing "true" to "false", always without the quotes. The result would be as you can see in the following screenshot:
The color of the background will depend both on the colors of the icon and on whether it is open or closed. As you can see, Nautilus and the Software Center offer a whitish shading, but that color changes when we open the applications. As I write, my doubts remain ...
Enable minimize on click option
Another change that I make to the Ubuntu dock is to activate an option that will minimize an application by clicking on its icon. But there is one thing I would like to say: if we activate it and we have two windows of a maximized screen application, we will only see one, which can be a bit confusing. In any case, I think the change is worth it. We can achieve this by opening the terminal and typing the following:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock click-action 'minimize'
What does the perfect Ubuntu dock look like in your point of view?