Whilst generally surfing around I came across a new launcher, which is similar to docky but called plank. And this is what it looks like -

Figure 1

Plank is a very lightweight and quick to launch launcher, and easy on resources. Looking at the above screenshot of plank you can see the similarity to docky, and plank was developed from docky.

Its home-page is at https://launchpad.net/plank and can easily be installed into Debian using these lines appropriate for your sources.list -

## Repos for plank
# for wheezy users
deb http://people.ubuntu.com/~ricotz/debian-plank wheezy main
# for jessie and sid users
deb http://people.ubuntu.com/~ricotz/debian-plank sid main

Although it does say 'ubuntu' in the site address the packages do install debianized packages.

There is no GUI for configuring plank, you have to edit its configuration file which can be found at -


and this is also where you can change the themes that it comes with, which are three only - Default, Matte, and Transparent. You can change the themes very easily from within plank itself if you install what I call the "multi-pack" which places an icon at the second position from the left of plank.

There is a "multi-pack" of themes of 27 available by using this command at the command-line -

cd ~ && mkdir -p ~/.temp-plank-themer && cd ~/.temp-plank-themer && wget https://github.com/rhoconlinux/plank-themer/archive/master.zip && unzip master.zip && cd plank-themer-master/ && rm -fR ~/.config/plank/dock1/theme_index; rm -fR ~/.config/plank/dock1/themes-repo; cp -a theme_index/ ~/.config/plank/dock1 && cp -a themes-repo/ ~/.config/plank/dock1 && cd ~ && rm -R ~/.temp-plank-themer && sh ~/.config/plank/dock1/theme_index/plank-on-dock-themer.sh

You can get further themes at various sites on the internet, look at 'devianart', and these are installed at /usr/share/plank/themes which then appear at the bottom of the theme list if you save them with a lower-case first letter, whereas if you use an upper-case first letter then they merge with all the other themes.

Plank is so nice and clean, easy to use, uses minimal resources, and doesn't have unnecessary bloat like some other launchers. In other words, you haven't got a spinning icon to alert you to the fact of activity in that programme. You have to know what programmes you are running and if they are likely to have activity in them, think 'xchat/hexchat' for IRC, etc. It is now in full-time use here as I like it so much.

But, there is one possible gotcha if you are using 'fluxbox' and compton', which is easily solveable. If you use both programmes you will find that there is a space approximately one inch high above plank in which no button can be pressed, or any keyboard activity. This is due to some interaction between compton and plank. You can see this area very easily by closing compton, and then putting this command into your terminal 'compton -c –shadow-blue 1', which then shows this space which I prefer to call 'dead-ground' as a fuzzy blue shadow. So to solve it, you need to close compton, and put the following text into your '~/.fluxbox/apps' file -

[app] (name=plank)   
[Layer]   {bottom}   

Save it, and restart compton, and plank, and now every programme works as it should. What you are actually doing is to send plank to the bottom-most layer of fluxbox, which is layer 10, and allows other programmes to lie over the top of it and even cover it entirely. But, it works!

When you start plank for the first time, it starts hidden, so you have to position your cursor at the bottom of the screen to bring it into focus. You can control whether its hidden or not in the config file, and here it is -

#This file auto-generated by Plank.

#Whether to show only windows of the current workspace.
#The size of dock icons (in pixels).
#If 0, the dock won't hide.  If 1, the dock intelligently hides.  If 2, the dock auto-hides. If 3, the dock dodges active maximized windows.
#Time (in ms) to wait before unhiding the dock.
#The monitor number for the dock. Use -1 to keep on the primary monitor.
#List of *.dockitem files on this dock. DO NOT MODIFY
#The position for the dock on the monitor.  If 0, left.  If 1, right.  If 2, top.  If 3, bottom.
#The dock's position offset from center (in percent).
#The name of the dock's theme to use.
#The alignment for the dock on the monitor's edge.  If 0, panel-mode.  If 1, right-aligned.  If 2, left-aligned.  If 3, centered.
#The alignment of the items in this dock if panel-mode is used.  If 1, right-aligned.  If 2, left-aligned.  If 3, centered.
#Whether to prevent drag'n'drop actions and lock items on the dock.

Enjoy your new launcher, which is very configurable with so many themes available for you to use.


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