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Revision as of 18:52, 28 March 2013 by Alucryd (talk | contribs) (Installation)
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Cairo-dock is a highly customizable dock written in C.


Install cairo-dock from the [community] repository. The core package provides only the strict minimum to run cairo-dock - to use applets, animations, views, effects and dialogs you will also need cairo-dock-plugins.

You can also try the latest BZR snapshot packages: cairo-dock-bzrAUR and cairo-dock-plugins-bzrAUR.

Warning: The BZR packages are unstable and should be used at own risk.


Running the dock

Run the dock in the background:

$ cairo-dock &

This will generate a startup message that will ask you to choose a backend for the current session (OpenGL or Cairo). There is an option to remember the choice and if not choosing to remember the choice, a startup message will be generated each time cairo-dock is run without backend options. To supress the startup message, you can specify which backend to use when running cairo-dock by specifying it as an option.

Run the dock with OpenGL backend:

$ cairo-dock -o &

Run the dock with Cairo backend:

$ cairo-dock -c &
Tip: All using ATI graphics cards should use this option. Some cards/drivers do not support OpenGL, which may prevent cairo-dock from running correctly.

Running the dock at startup

This depends on which desktop environment or window manager that is being used and which backend cairo-dock should be run with. The following section shows how to run cairo-dock at startup without forcing a backend.

Cairo-dock method

Run cairo-dock and right-click the dock and go to Cairo-Dock > Launch Cairo-Dock on startup. The settings will be stored in ~/.config/autostart/ and sourced the next time you login.


Add the following to ~/.config/openbox/autostart or ~/.fluxbox/startup accordingly:

cairo-dock &


If you have xfce4-autostart-editor installed, simply run it and add an entry for cairo-dock. If you're not using a session manager you can add the following to ~/.config/xfce4/xinitrc or ~/Desktop/Autostart:

cairo-dock &


Add a cairo-dock entry to Startup Programs using

$ gnome-session-properties

Configuring the dock

To configure the dock, right-click the dock and go to Cairo-Dock > Configure.


Two cairo-docks are running

This is most likely a result of saved sessions being runned at login. If you are using a desktop environment like GNOME, KDE or Xfce you need to disable automatic startup of sessions in your session manager settings. You may also need to delete the sessions cache:

$ rm ~/.cache/sessions/x*

If you are not using a desktop environment with a session manager or choose to have cairo-dock startup by itself, you need to remove autostart files generated by cairo-dock:

$ rm ~/.config/autostart/cairo-dock*

The background is black

This is most likely caused by not running a composite manager, like Xcompmgr or Cairo Compmgr. Cairo-dock uses the transparency feature of the composite manager to display the dock, and without it the dock will be displayed with a black background. If you are using a desktop environment, simply enable the composite manager or desktop effects in the settings.

An alternative solution that does not require a composite manager is to enable fake transparency in cairo-dock. To do this, right-click the dock and go to Cairo-Dock > Configure > Advanced Mode > System > Composition. Then enable both Emulate composition with fake transparency and Make the config panel transparent.

More resources