I'm using Cairo-Dock 2.4 on Ubuntu 11.10 with the Gnome Classic UI. Is there any other desktop UI I can use that will allow me to just have Cairo-Dock as the main/only panel? I just need an all-in-one simple panel.
Cairo dock can be "logged into" replacing the gnome-session, this would be a custom Cairo Dock session.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cairo-dock-team/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install cairo-dock cairo-dock-plug-ins
I use KDE. It's so much more easy and customizable than Gnome. It allows you to have complete control over the panels (removing, resizing, etc.), so that's what I would recommend (Kubuntu). Just open software center, install kubuntu-desktop (you have to click "show hidden files" to be able to see it, and then you can have a desktop with only cairo-dock. Install "lancelot" for Cairo-Dock, to have a menu, and I think that's all you need.
I tried doing this with Gnome before, but after I disabled the Ubuntu Unity plugin in Compiz-Config, I still had an ugly bar at the top with File, View, Edit, and a whole bunch of other junky stuff. Too bad, because I was actually enjoying CCSM more than Kwin, but in the end, I think moving was a good decision--you won't regret it! In fact, you can even user Compiz as your window manager instead of Kwin if you want, although I've never found a need for that.
However, I do have to admit, although I did try pretty hard and researched quite a bit, there still might be a way that I don't know about, so if you don't want to give up Gnome, then keep searching.
Off Topic of Cairo-
Docky with Cardapio Mini mode