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13.04 has dropped support for old-style systray indicators. This may or may not be a step in the right direction in the long term, but it's extremely inconvenient in the short term.

There are at least four apps that I regularly use that have a systray icon, and half of those are completely unusable without it. I going to need a work-around to get by.

In the old days it used to be possible to run a gnome-panel in a Unity desktop, and get the old gnome2 widgets and indicators that way. However, whilst gnome-panel still runs, it also seems to have moved on and there's no way to configure a systray any more (or is there?)

Does anybody know of any alternative systray providers that might be compatible with a Unity desktop? Maybe xfce or lxde has one?


I'm aware of the PPA with a modified Unity, but that's not ideal, and anyway I'm running Saucy, so that doesn't apply.

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I know that Cairo Dock has an 'old style' systray plug in, but I don't think that this is what you are looking for. – SimplySimon Jul 19 '13 at 9:24
@SimplySimon: You mean this? That looks cool, but ideally I'm looking for something more discreet. Do you think it will configure "down" a little? – ams Jul 19 '13 at 9:29
And there is proposed version of Unity that soon will come into updates repository. Do not mention you use Saucy else someone will flag your question ;) – Danatela Jul 19 '13 at 9:40
Yes that's the one. It should do, just create a new dock on the top with it Always on top with tiny icons and add the Notification Area Old applet to it then make the main bar always hidden. It should work – SimplySimon Jul 19 '13 at 10:06
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Here's the options I've tried. I've set this to "community wiki", so please add other answers if you have any.


xfce4-panel with only a systray added

  • Pros

    • Easy to set up
    • No extra nonsense (unless you want it)
    • Works with Unity Desktop
    • Size configurable
  • Cons

    • If positioned near the edge of the screen maximised windows will not use the whole screen.
    • Can't be positioned on top of the Unity panel because it gets lost behind.

Cairo Dock

Cairo Dock systray

  • Pros

    • The systray is nice and small, and the background is transparent
    • Works with Unity Desktop
    • Does not affect size/position of maximized windows.
  • Cons

    • Systray cannot be placed on top of the Unity panel
    • There's a whole extra Mac-style launcher that can't be disabled
      • It does auto-hide though.
    • Although Cairo supports both old and new-style notifications, they don't co-exist.
    • Can only be moved around with Alt-drag

In all cases, the systrays do not coexist well, and I've found I sometimes had to restart the apps to get the icons to reappear. After some fiddling about I seem to have got them very confused.

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