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Docky has the feature of tiling/cascading the desktop. I'd like to know what it taps into to acheive this, and if I could get similar functionality in Unity without docky

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I'll admit, I'm also curious to know but there is a package that control the behaviour without needing to get under the bonnet.

sudo apt-get install wmctrl

From there you can run:

wmctrl -k on  # hides the desktop
wmctrl -k off # restores

Here's a script for toggling (Credit to Jeff.Smith on Ubuntu Forums):

if wmctrl -m | grep "mode: ON"; then
    exec wmctrl -k off
    exec wmctrl -k on

Save that somewhere, chmod +x it and create a launcher for it and you're done.

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