So, you’ve decided to take Zen’s advice, and install Lubuntu 12.04 LTS on your aging Powermac. If you are like me and you’ve been using macs a long time (like, since Reagan was in the White House) the Linux interface is just more than a little Windows-esque at first, task bar at the bottom and all. But that’s ok, this is Linux, and we can fix that. Right click on that task bar, bring up properties and put that panel up at the top. Where it frackin’ belongs.
The next thing you are bound to say coming from OS X is where the heck is my dock? Sure, Lubuntu gives you that task bar, and a menu with submenus that give you pretty much all the access you need to your programs and files, but you’ve come from OSX-land and Steve (rest in peace) trained you to like your dock. A simple Google search will give you two options in linuxland: Docky and Cairo. Both are fine programs, and give you lots of eye candy. You like the look of and sudo apt-get install docky from the command line and it goes fine, but there is this fugly black box around the dock. Some more googling and you realize you need to install a compositing manager like compiz or metacity. You do that and....your system.....grinds. To. A. Halt. This should not be unexpected, you have an aging Powermac, afterall.
Some more Googling pops up a lightweight compositing manager called xcompmgr. You are getting used to this command line deal and sudo apt-get install xcompmgr, and on reboot the black fugly box goes away, and your system is still surprisingly usable. All is right in the world until one day out of the blue your computer seizes up on you, and you pull up the task manager and see Xorg is chewing up 90% of your CPU, and xcompmgr the other 11%. Turns out Xorg and xcompmgr don’t always play nice with each other, and since you can’t give up Xorg anymore than you could give up Aqua in OS X, now xcompmgr has to go.
Many diehard mac fanboys would throw in the towel at this point and go running back to OSXland but you are determined to get as much life as humanly possibly out of your mac and aren’t ready to give up just yet. That’s good because this is Lubuntu baby, and given the power of FOSS we can just go ahead and make a dock. That’s right, I said: "Make a dock." Well, actually I prefer to call it a pseudodock.
What we are really doing is modifying a new panel to somewhat look and act like a dock. Right click on that panel at the top, and select create a new panel and position it at the bottom, and center that bad boy. What you’ll see next is very fugly. Under Geometry we need to adjust the height and width of the panel first, I set both to about 45 pixels, but you are free to play around with those numbers. While we are here lets set the icon pixels to the same height as the panel.
Next under Appearance we want to select solid color with opacity, and right click on the color box so we can bring up a color wheel and eye dropper selector-thingy. You are free to choose whatever opacity or godawful day-glo color background you want, but if you want something mac-like take the color picker and select whatever wallpaper color is immediately behind your dock. Personally I like the Lubuntu 12.10 desktop, so that’s what I use. Now, you appear to have a transparent dock, sort of like back in the day OS X Tiger with Unsanity’s clear dock hack. Now that was some scary software.
Now its time to load some Panel Applets. Clicking Add will bring up a whole bunch of things, and you are free to install them but I find most of them useless, except for the lovely application launch manager. At first selecting this appears to do absolutely nothing, but that’s because you need to hit Edit, this will bring up all the apps you have in your LXDE winged birdy menu. Add what you want. Move icons around with the up and down functions. You may also need to add spacers to give your pseudodock a slightly more...even appearance. What you will end up with is something rather attractive.
Some caveats: There is no trash can. If anyone can figure out how to install one, please comment it out below. You also can’t just drag icons onto your pseudodock, and there is no minimize/maximize fucntion or bouncing icons, just a subtle color change as you mouse over. You can set the pseudodock to hide and do some other fine tweaking under the ol' Advanced tab.
That’s it. Now open your task manager from your pseudodock and revel in the Plantagenet luxury of 96% CPU free.