There are a lot of tutorials online for getting at individual features in AWN (or DockBarX), and I understand that not every feature I'm making use of here is necessarily going to be useful to every user - this is an interface tailored to my workflow. Still, if you're new to AWN, here's a quick tutorial on some of the features you'll want to know about to be able to take full advantage of it. The goal here is to configure AWN as an alternative shell to Unity that retains all the same basic features (and a few extra.)
In this tutorial, despite the default settings on everything else, I'm using the (very trendy, I know) Orta theme and Faenza icons. I don't think it's without reason that these are becoming Gnome's Aqua. They're very readable and clean, and they both include a lot of special features (like Orta's extensive appearance configuration options and Faenza's inclusion of special notification tray icons for common apps like Dropbox and Tomboy.)
Although I know there are perfectly good reasons for both options, I'm going to be assuming in this tutorial that you're using a theme with the window buttons on the left, as this is needed for the Unity-style workflow presented. If you don't know how to change this feature, I'll explain it when I mention gconf-editor below.
We'll need to add two PPAs to your system - one for AWN and one for DockBarX.
After that, we'll update the package lists, then install these packages.Code:sudo add-apt-repository ppa:awn-testing/ppa sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dockbar-main/ppa
The packages you're installing:Code:sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator-trunk dockbarx awn-applet-dockbarx xfce4-utils ccsm gconf-editor
avant-window-navigator-trunk - The new panel itself
dockbarx - A better task manager that plays nicely with AWN
awn-applet-dockbarx - The wrapper that connects the two
xfce4-utils - A utility package from XFCE that includes a replacement Run Dialog (explanation later)
ccsm - Compiz Config Settings Manager, which allows you to configure desktop effects and keyboard shortcuts, including the Run Dialog
gconf-editor - Gnome Configuration Editor, which will allow us to replace Gnome Panel completely with AWN.
We'll start at the defaults. Log into a default Gnome 2 environment (by selecting it under Session at the Login screen) and, once you're all logged in, run Avant Window Navigator.
You can remove the bottom Gnome Panel by editing its settings, but there's no way to remove the last panel while the panel application is running. Instead, we'll just make AWN the new default panel application. hit Alt+F2 and run gconf-editor and change this key from gnome-panel to avant-window-navigator .
Log out and log back in for the change to take effect.
If you have your window control buttons on the right, you can shift them to the left in gconf-editor, too, so do that while you're here. Select Apps -> Metacity -> General and look for the Button Layout key. Note that this won't work if you're using an Emerald window frame.
Now we have a very bare desktop. You'll notice that Alt+F2 has stopped working, and there's no system tray. We'll get these features back in a moment.
For right now, let's begin by making the AWN launcher a little more presentable. By right-clicking the panel, you can access its settings. We'll make the icon size a bit smaller and move it to the left. Set the behavior to Intellihide and the hide style below this to Transparency. This is one feature AWN has over Unity: the dock will be visible at all times, but if it overlaps a window or a window is maximized, it will fade into an overlay that can be clicked through and only reactivate when you touch the left border of the screen. This means that the dock doesn't take up any pixel space but is always visible and immediately accessible.
The applets you see here are the Cairo Menu (which offers a nice quick-access Places menu) and the Task Manager with a Separator in between. If you plan on using DockBarX, don't worry about adding launchers to the taskbar yet.
Go back to the preferences tab and click Add Dock. This one will be our system tray. Set it to Top, with a behavior of Always Visible, and drag the Position slider to the far right. Set the Icon Size to about the thickness of your titlebar (about sixteen or eighteen pixels.)
Now, remove the existing applets and add a Notification Area and an Indicator Applet from the Applets tab. You'll notice that the icons are stacked weirdly and a little ugly: right click the border of the Notification Area, set Number of Icon Rows to 1, and turn off the background. To get the same effect in the Indicator Applet, right Click anywhere in the applet itself, select Preferences, and check the box for Enable Applet Icon Mode. You can also add a Quit/Logout applet or a Digital Clock to the dock at this time. Notice that the Indicator Applet can be run in more than one place at a time and each can be configured separately, so that you could, say, separate out your Me Menu or Sound Control as its own dock applet.
AWN's default offset from the screen edge is 10. I'd suggest a much smaller setting for a layout like this one (because the system tray has to fit into the window titlebar and because the left-hand Launcher is set to Transparency, so we want the buttons to be clickable when the cursor is at the far edge of the screen.) Find this setting under the Advanced tab and set it for each dock.
We're most of the way to a functional-looking desktop, but there's still no Run Dialog when you press Alt+F2, because this is actually a dialog provided by Gnome Panel. Instead, we'll use the one provided by xfce-utils. From the Main Menu at the left, go to Preferences -> Compiz Config Settings Manager (ccsm), then click the Commands tile. Enter "xfrun4" as Command 0, then click the keybindings tab. Enter whatever keystroke you like, although you might want to make it something other than Alt+F2 to avoid possible conflicts.
You could use something like Synapse instead of xfrun4, although xfrun4 will allow you to run more complex commands. Either one will appear when you select Launch from the Main Menu.
This gets us most of the way to a functional desktop, but I'd recommend using DockBarX over the default taskbar, as I'll explain in the following post.