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Cairo-dock with compiz as a lighter Cinmamon style DE

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  • Cairo-dock with compiz as a lighter Cinmamon style DE

    Cairo-dock has reached version 3.4.0, and has gained most of the features necessary to directly replace the very functional and beautiful Cinnamon panel. It still lacks a proper window list, though that is on the cairo-dock roadmap. Also, a cairo-dock session selected in lightdm in Ubuntu Vivid has a bug causing the mouse cursor to disappear, forcing use of another session as the basis for the DE. I've had good luck with MATE. As of right now, adding cairo-dock to a MATE session under compiz, rendered over a MATE panel empty of everything but the window list, gives a DE that is a near duplicate of Cinnamon except for its configuration utilities which are spread across the various programs used.

    In cairo-dock version 3.4, a couple bugs in how GTK 3.14 is used requires adding the code below to a "menu.css" file in ~/cache/cairo-dock/current_theme . It stops the shadow added to GTK windows from showing up at the rectangular edges of cairo-dock transparent "bubble" popup windows and stops the calender from using the system theme background as the calender background.

    .window-frame {
    border-radius: 7px;
    border-width: 0px;
    margin: 10px;
    box-shadow: 0 0px 0px 0px alpha(black, 0.0);
    }

    GtkCalendar{
    color: white;
    background-color: transparent;
    }

    Using this file with the default "panel mode" colors gives a spectacular gnome-shell style theme. The dock can be set up with mate-panel as a cinnamon style panel, or used with it's native Apple style taskbar. Why bother with all this? The resulting desktop shell is far lighter than gnome-shell or cinnamon. Cinnamon typically shows up as #3 load in top or conky at an idling desktop. Most of the time compiz run without Unity and cairo-dock won't appear at all. Compiz without Unity is still the most responsive compositor I have ever used, and Mutter/Muffin seems rough running by comparison. On my desktops Cinnamon works fine due to available power, but I've always been offended by "page's law" and regarded existing GTK3 desktops as an example of it with all those scripts. Cairo-dock and compiz are compiled code and the Clutter toolkit (also reputed to be slow) is not used.

    For the future, cairo-dock supports Wayland right now, and has been run under Weston. Unfortunately Weston itself is poorly suited to any external dock, as the position of windows cannot be predetermined and pre-set. In addition, the current Weston compositor and at least some of its competitors do not expose the necessary API for any window list or other taskbar to be used. These are Waylands or Wayland compositor's problems to fix, not cairo-docks. On the other hand, I see no evidence of an effort to port Cinnamon to Wayland, though the Mint team does seem to develop in private.
    MATE has mostly been ported to build and run with GTK3, and Wayland compatablity is on it's road map. A Wayland compatable build of Caja, or of Nemo, or of Nautilus would work with existing cairo-dock once these issues are sorted out, hopefully in a session designed for them and the Weston or some other compositor.

    Here's what's on my wish list for this: Compiz plugins ported to any available Wayland compositor that exposes the necessary window management functions for a taskbar, a GTK3 file manager that works under Wayland, and the upcoming window list plugin for cairo-dock. At that point, cairo-dock devs would find themselves with a light,fast desktop that outperforms GNOME and its forks, yet can be as pretty as gnome-shell or anything else someone wants it to look like, and offers all the features traditional desktop users have come to expect. It would be every bit as configurable as GNOME 2 ever was with a lot more theming options and incredible performance.
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