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Thread: HOWTO: functional eye-candy with Avant-Window-Navigator

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    Jun 2006
    A galaxy far, far away...

    HOWTO: functional eye-candy with Avant-Window-Navigator

    This thread is a repost of my old guide, which can be found here:

    Due to my lack of time/interest and my recent change of distro to Archlinux, these repositories are no longer maintained. I would instead recommend that you follow the instructions outlined here:


    What is it?:
    AWN is a compositing dock-like taskbar. It is similar to the dock in OSX, but supports features such as custom themes, applets that can do anything from displaying battery life to showing Dilbert, and much more.

    AWN in Launchpad:
    AWN-Extras in LP:
    The developer's blog:
    Official AWN forums:
    Official AWN IRC channel: #awn on


    AWN (v0.2):

    Notes (please read!):

    AWN requires a compositor (like beryl or compiz) to work properly. See the FAQ below for more information.

    If you have previously installed some other version of AWN, you should remove it before you begin. In most cases my guide will not have any trouble wiht a previous install, but odd bugs have been known to occur.

    The instructions provided here install an unstable, development version of AWN. This means that you get new features and bugfixes much faster, but things may break without warning. There are stable packages of AWN available in universe and from If you require absolute stability, it is recommended you use one of those sources instead.

    AWN is still under heavy development, and contains many bugs. Please help development by reporting any bugs you find on Launchpad. Bugs in applets should be reported to the awn-extras project instead of main AWN.

    Terminal commands should be pasted in one line at a time, unless otherwise noted. The terminal is located in Applications->Accessories->Terminal.


    DISCLAIMER: I do my best to keep the packages in this repo high-quality. However, 3rd party repositories such as this one are completely unsupported by Ubuntu. Any problems caused by this repo should be reported to me in this thread, not to Ubuntu.

    IMPORTANT: I support only Ubuntu Hardy (8.04) and Ubuntu Intrepid (8.10). This does not include derivative distros such as Mint. Though you are welcome to try using my packages under derivatives, I can provide no support for doing so.

    Before we begin, make sure you have all the needed ubuntu repositories installed, namely universe and ubuntu-updates. This can be done in System -> Administration -> Software Sources by enabling 'recommended updates' under the 'Updates' tab, and also enabling 'Community-maintained Open Source software' under the 'Ubuntu Software' tab.

    Now open a terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal), we'll be pasting a lot of commands. Remember, paste only 1 line at a time unless otherwise directed.

    First, add my AWN repo by running the appropriate set of commands:

    echo 'deb hardy main'  |  sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
    echo 'deb intrepid main'  |  sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
    Now update your software lists. If you are asked any questions during this, respond with 'y'.
    sudo apt-get update
    Then install AWN, again, answer 'y' to any questions.
    sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator-bzr awn-core-applets-bzr awn-manager-bzr
    That's it! You can now start AWN from Applications->Accessories->Avant Window Navigator.
    If installation fails, go back to the beginning and make sure you followed all instructions correctly, and then check the FAQ section at the bottom of this guide.

    Available packages:
    avant-window-navigator-bzr - the latest development version of AWN.
    awn-core-applets-bzr - extra applets for AWN (development version)
    libawn0-bzr - applet library for AWN
    libawn-bzr-dev - headers for the AWN applet library. Install this only if you need to compile applets from source.
    python-awn-bzr - python bindings for libawn
    All -bzr packages are updated periodically from AWN bzr.


    The repository will automatically keep you up-to-date in the same manner that ubuntu updates the rest of your software. You can update manually with these commands:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade

    sudo apt-get remove --purge avant-window-navigator-bzr awn-manager-bzr awn-core-applets-bzr libawn0-bzr

    Q: Can I put AWN on another side of my screen?
    A: Not currently, but this is a planned feature for a future version of AWN.

    Q: When does the next version of AWN come out?
    A: When it's ready.

    Q: Can I use AWN as just a launcher, not a taskmanager?
    A: Not with my packages. There is an applet in development that will allow this, however it is written in Vala which I do not support in my repo. (See below for why.)

    Q: There's a big ugly black bar around AWN! How do I get rid of it?
    A: You need to be running a compositor like Beryl or Compiz. Other compositors such as xfwm4 and xcompmgr will also work, but are less tested and may exhibit bugs.

    Q: Why does AWN depend on so much of Gnome? I'm a kde/xfce/other user who doesn't want to be burdened by all that ****
    A: The original developer chose to build on top of Gnome because it was what he was familiar with and could develop the fastest. However, there has been a lot of work poured into making a desktop-agnostic version of AWN that eliminates most of these dependencies. You will need to compile AWN from source to enable agnostic.

    Q: Some of the applets won't load! I only get a white line/nothing!
    A: Several of the applets are currently not functional in my builds. Others may not work without installing additional dependencies.

    Broken: standalone taskmanager
    Needs Deps: Affinity (tracker or beagle), TsClient (tsclient), Volume Control (python-alsaaudio), Mail (python-feedparser)

    Q: Why don't you support Vala applets?
    A: AWN requires a newer version of Vala than is available in Ubuntu. That means that I would have to package a newer version of Vala as well to be able to provide this, which is not only more effort than I am willing to expend, but also can interfere with Ubuntu's Vala packages. So, until such time as a suitable version of Vala becomes available in Ubuntu I cannot build in support for Vala applets.

    Q: I want my AWN to be curved like I see in all those screenshots!
    A: In gconf-editor, set apps->avant-window-navigator->bar->bar_angle to -1.

    Q: I heard Apple patented the dock! Does this mean AWN is illegal?
    A: No, see
    Last edited by reacocard; March 22nd, 2009 at 07:52 PM.
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