Avant Window Navigator (AWN) is a great looking and customizable dock for linux with plenty of themes and add-ins available.
Before installing AWN you should check your Visual Effects settings – I have found that I cannot enable these in VMware virtual machines and on a very old laptop (with an obscure chipset), for example.
Click Preferences and Appearance followed by the Visual Effects tab. Click the Normal (or Extra) radio button, and then click Close.
I’ll assume that this works for you as AWN looks much better with visual effects enabled.
Click Applications, Accessories and then Terminal in the top panel and then install AWN as follows:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:awn-testing/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator-trunk avant-window-navigator-data-trunk python-awn-trunk awn-settings-trunk awn-applets-python-core-trunk python-awn-extras-trunk awn-applets-python-extras-trunk awn-applets-c-core-trunk awn-applets-c-extras-trunk
The first thing I did once AWN was installed was to remove the bottom Gnome panel by right clicking it and selecting Remove Panel. Click Applications, Accessories then Avant Window Navigator to run AWN.
After playing with the Themes I found that I wanted something more simple and so I set the Style to None and ended up with a nice transparent dock with some mirrored reflection underneath.
I shifted my dock to the left and checked the Expand the panel box so that the dock took up the whole width of the screen and I checked the Start AWN automatically box so that it would run at startup.
The Applets are categorized nicely and include spacers to separate groups of icons and expanders that let you keep one set of icons on the left and another on the right if you need to.
It is easy to move applets into the Active Applets area at the bottom of the window and there you can drag the applets left and right to arrange them in the order that you would like.
A quick solution was to just right click an empty space in the panel and click the Autohide checkbox.
As you can see you can fit a good selection of functionality into the AWN dock (including the Applications, Places and System menus) in the first two buttons on my dock.
With a nice wallpaper it all looks absolutely lovely too …