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It would be very nice to see a comparison between features, icons and usability.

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closed as too broad by Braiam, Avinash Raj, Eric Carvalho, Jorge Castro, Warren Hill Dec 12 '13 at 17:35

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers 3

up vote 35 down vote accepted

I will try to be impartial and objective. Help and suggestions are welcome ;-).

I'm very grateful for the important contributions of these buddies:
Alaukik, Kaustubh P, Uri Herrera and Mandy.

First of all, the question is tricky. Putting all this together may lead someone to think of Unity as a Dock, which it is not. Actually, it is a User Interface (see this as reference to this affirmation and this for the definition of a Dock).

Second: the Unity Launcher can't be moved from left edge.

To make this answer be more suitable, I will focus on features that are common to all and on those which are (at least to me) most desired.



Applications Menu

This is more easily answered with images:

Unity:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here _

AWN:

AWN own menu:

enter image description here

YAMA (has "Places" and bigger icons):

enter image description here

I wasn't able to find this feature for Docky but maybe it has it.



Workspace Switcher

Unity:
You can't preview the workspaces from the Launcher:
enter image description here

But when you click on the icon, you will see:
enter image description here

Docky:
No preview:
enter image description here

AWN:
enter image description here

Cairo Dock:
enter image description here



Notification Area

Unity:
enter image description here

AWN:
enter image description here

Cairo Dock:
enter image description here

I wasn't able to find this feature for Docky but maybe it has it.



Monitoring:

Battery

Unity:

enter image description here

Docky:

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here


Processor

Unity:

enter image description here

and

enter image description here
obs.: check List of Application indicators to see how to install this and others indicators.
Specifically for this indicator: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:indicator-multiload/stable-daily && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install indicator-multiload && indicator-multiload

Docky:

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here


RAM

Unity:

enter image description here

Docky:

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here


Internet Connection

Unity:

enter image description here

Docky:

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here


Hard Disk

Unity:

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here

I wasn't able to find this feature for Docky but maybe it has it.


Dropbox

Unity:

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here

I wasn't able to find this feature for Docky but maybe it has it.



Weather

Unity:

enter image description here
Click here to install.

Docky:
enter image description here

AWN:
enter image description here

Cairo Dock:
enter image description here



Date and Clock

Unity:

enter image description here

Docky:

enter image description here
When you click on it:
enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here



Clipboard

Unity:

enter image description here

Docky:

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:

enter image description here

I wasn't able to find this feature for Docky but maybe it has it.



Some extra features

Unity: When you drag an app to the launcher it lights up the apps that can open it .

enter image description here

Docky:
enter image description here

AWN:
This applet shows items related to what you are doing
enter image description here

Cairo Dock:
It is very beautiful and has lots of visual effects and configurations. Let's see some:
Sub folders
enter image description here

Widgets
enter image description here

Recent Events
enter image description here



Lightness on system

On average, this is what top shows me for processor (P) and memory (M) usage:

Unity:
P: 1 M: 0.4

enter image description here

Docky:
P: 1-2 M: 1.2

enter image description here

AWN:
P: 0 M: 0.3

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:
P: 0-1 M: 1.5

enter image description here



Final Overview

Unity:
enter image description here

Docky:
enter image description here

enter image description here

AWN:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Cairo Dock:
enter image description here

enter image description here



Websites

Unity: unity.ubuntu.com

Docky: www.go-docky.com

AWN: awn-project.org

Cairo Dock: glx-dock.org



Installation

Unity: It comes with Ubuntu 11.04 and later.

Docky: docky

AWN: avant-window-navigator (I would suggest you also install awn-applets-all)

Cairo Dock: cairo-dock

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1  
what do you mean AWN doesn't have an application menu , it has like 5. AWN own menu, YAMA, cairo-menu, cardapio's, gnomenu..etc. and im pretty sure docky has application menu's too. –  Uri Herrera May 8 '11 at 5:09
    
Thank you very much for this tip. I couldn't find it before. –  desgua May 8 '11 at 5:23
1  
Awn has an applet to host an indicator area. All the indicator will work there the same way that they do in Unity. –  Javier Rivera May 11 '11 at 12:29
1  
This is probably one of the most detailed answers I have ever seen on this site. Awesome! –  pthurmond Apr 19 '13 at 14:00

No further comments or posts yet? Issue discussed in Distrowatch now: http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20130304#comments

Not sure why you defend Unity as NOT being a very inflexible, irresponsible taskbar. Unity can be used along with AWN, Docky, etc. It can be removed completely, if needed from any Unity based distro, if needed (above url in Distrowatch):

"8 • Re: 7 rolling releases (by hobbitland on 2013-03-04 12:48:17 GMT from United Kingdom) I've stayed with Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS but with Gnome 3 fallback and will move to XFCE for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. I don't like rolling release as I heavilly remaster Ubuntu 12.04.2 with unity removed and gnome 3 fallback included plus lots of other tweaks."

My up-to-date Mint-KDE & Netrunner can emulate all of the above, and more: Unity, Docky, Awn, Windows7, IOS, Cairo, Gnome, Mate, Cinnamon, etc - but not E17, which is too confusingly complex for a novice to modify atm.

Your survey neglect XFCE-based distros, that have seemingly unlimited taskbars on the 4 sides, intellihide, resizable, etc.

All the smaller taskbars (Docky, etc) can emulate the power-hungry bigger brothers by adding more apps; Compiz, etc. Not sure why you seem ignorant of this.

The so-mentioned deficits of Docky come from your unfair exploration of Docky, versus your biased explorations favoring Unity. Docky allows easy removal, adding, ordering, re-sizing of its icons better than almost any other taskbars, including Unity. If you need cubic or wallpapers of your desktops, just add the apps that allow this, such as Compiz or Cairo.

Personally I favor XFCE for fast, light distros on slow or simple setups, plus add-on apps (Compiz, etc) if needed. Independent bench tests suggest that I use the latest versions of KDE now for CPU, GPU, memory & resource savings. Hence my current uses of Netrunner & Mint-KDE on my multi-booting i7, 8GB DDR3 pc.

Chief Information Officer (Retired 1984), Australian Capital Territory

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