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How to Add a Taskbar to the Desktop in Ubuntu 11.10

00_tint2_taskbar_full_width

As of Ubuntu 11.04, the bottom panel was removed from when the Unity desktop was added. When you minimize a program, it goes to the launcher, and you must scroll to access it, or press Alt + Tab.

You may be used to the Taskbar in Windows, viewing all your open programs and accessing minimized programs with the click of your mouse. You can get this functionality on the Unity desktop in Ubuntu 11.10 using a program called Tint2.

Tint2 is a simple panel or taskbar program that has a lot of configuration options, including changing the appearance of the taskbar and displaying a system tray and a clock on the taskbar.

To install Tint2, you need to first add the appropriate repository. Press Ctrl + Alt + T to open a Terminal window. Type the following command at the prompt and press Enter.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:killeroid/ppa

Enter your password when prompted.

01_adding_repository

A message displays telling you about the PPA (Personal Package Archive) you are adding to the system, providing some useful information about Tint2. To continue with the installation, press Enter.

02_press_enter_to_continue

When the repository has been added, you need to make sure it is up-to-date. To update all the repositories in your system, type the following command at the prompt and press Enter.

sudo apt-get update

03_updating_repositories

To install Tint2, type the following command at the prompt and press Enter.

sudo apt-get install tint2

04_installing_tint2

The installation program analyzes your system and tells you how many and which new packages will be installed and how much disk space the installed program will need. When asked if you want to continue, type a “Y” (without the quotes) and press Enter.

05_do_you_want_to_continue

Once the installation is finished, type “exit” (without the quotes) at the prompt and press Enter to close the Terminal window.

06_closing_terminal_window

To run Tint2, press Alt + F2 to bring up an edit box for running commands. Type “tint” (again, without the quotes) into the box and click on the “tint2” icon under Results.

07_running_tint2_first_time

The Tint2 taskbar opens at the bottom of the screen. If you have programs that are already open when you run Tint2, icons for those programs display on the taskbar.

08_tint2_taskbar_initial_settings

There are many settings that allow you to adjust the appearance and behavior of the Tint2 taskbar. We will close Tint2 for now and change the configuration file to make the taskbar the full width of the screen.

NOTE: You can change the configuration file while Tint2 is running. If you do, open a Terminal window and run the following command to force Tint2 to reload the taskbar with the new configuration.

killall -SIGUSR1 tint2

One drawback of Tint2 is the fact that we couldn’t figure out how to exit the program. However, in Linux, killing a task is easy. To kill the Tint2 task, press Ctrl + Alt + T again to open a Terminal window. Type the following command a the prompt and press Enter.

ps -e | less

This command lists all running processes and their process IDs (PIDs). The “| less” part of the command allows you to page up and down through the list of IDs.

09_getting_list_of_process_ids

The first “page” of PIDs displays. Press the spacebar to go to the next page.

10_first_page_of_ps

When you find tint2 in the list, make a note of the PID for it in the first column. We found tint2 on the last page and the current PID for the program was 2291. Press “q” to exit out of the “ps” command.

11_tint2_process_id

To kill the tint2 process, type “kill” (without the quotes) at the prompt followed by a space and the PID listed for tint2 in the “ps” command. Press Enter. The taskbar at the bottom of the screen should disappear.

12_killing_the_process

Now, we’ll open the configuration file to change the width of the taskbar. Click the Home Folder button on the launcher to open the file manager.

13_opening_home_folder

The file manager opens to the Home folder. The Tint2 configuration file is in a hidden folder in your Home folder. You must turn on the option in the file manager to show hidden files and folders. Our article about how to do this was written for an older version of Ubuntu, but the process is still the same in Ubuntu 11.10.

In the file manager window, within the Home folder, navigate to the following folder:

.config/tint2

Select the tint2rc file, right-click on it, and select Open With Text Editor from the popup menu.

14_opening_config_file

The configuration file opens in your default text editor, which, for us, is gedit.

To make the taskbar the full width of the screen, change the first value for “panel_size” in the “# Panel” section to 0 (without the percent sign). If you want to make the taskbar width a certain percentage of the screen, change the first value to the desired percentage, keeping the percent sign. The default percentage is 94%. The second value indicates the height of the taskbar.

15_changing_panel_size

If you want the taskbar to hide when you are not using it, change the value of “autohide” in the “# Panel Autohide” section to 1. To save your changes, click Save.

16_changing_autohide_and_saving

To close gedit, select Quit from the File menu.

17_closing_gedit

Now, when you start Tint2, as described earlier, the taskbar spans the full width of the screen. The Unity launcher stops right above the Tint2 taskbar and still scrolls.

If you want the taskbar to automatically start when you log in so it’s always available, you can add Tint2 to the list of Startup Applications. To do this, click the Dash home icon on the launcher.

19_clicking_dash_home_on_launcher

Type “startup” in the search box. The results display as you type. Click the Startup Applications icon under the Applications heading.

For the rest of the procedure about adding a program to Startup Applications, see our article about how to make programs start automatically in Linux Mint 12. Once Startup Applications is open, the procedure is the same as in Linux Mint 12. Note that the Tint2 executable file to add to Startup Applications is located in the /usr/bin directory and is called “tint2.”

For more information about the settings in the Tint2 configuration file, see http://code.google.com/p/tint2/wiki/Configure.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 02/23/12

Comments (8)

  1. althea

    Very cool, thanks!

  2. Futuro
  3. kenedy123

    Good to know about the How to Add a Taskbar to the Desktop in Ubuntu 11.10

  4. cam2644

    Useful tip. However, Ubuntu’s Unity is gearing up for phone and touch screen. Those who want the more user friendly desktop should be switching to Mint with its promising Cinnamon or use a KDE based system.

  5. beep54

    Mint and Cinnamon both look worth checking into, although it is possible to get Cinnamon for Ubuntu [see: http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/?s=ubuntu ]. I switched to XFCE after I found I hated Unity and was pleased to find out later that this is now Mr Torvald’s desktop of choice.

  6. LieNixir

    I did something similar recently I used the gnome 3 ppa from webupd8.org 2 install a ton of gnome shell extensions from the USC(ubuntu-software center)
    sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool && sudo apt-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
    (in USC click the drop down arrow to the right of get software and select gnome 3)
    (you may have to select view technical items Link from the bottom of the window)
    the MGSE(mint gnome shell extensions) in paticular will give you a “bottom-bar) that will give you more traditional like infinitely expanding workspace switching/alt. system tray, and the window list will give you the traditional gnome window switching/show-desktop, the mint menu didn’t jive well on my net-book, but well on my rommate’s laptop(ubuntu 11.10)
    using the gnome tweak tool aka advance settings(sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak tool) I can easily switch on/off any extensions I wish, provided I have switched to the “gnome” session before login…

  7. manny

    i like how it looks, would be cool to get the top bar to look like that.

  8. fvalcalde

    I really like how this panel looks, I installed it and it’s great. However, you said “The Unity launcher stops right above the Tint2 taskbar and still scrolls”, but mine dont; is there something I can do to make the unity launcher to stay on top of the Tint2 taskbar?

    Here is how it looks mine:
    http://ubuntuone.com/1iNBfsptYswZ4tmRT0Phod
    http://ubuntuone.com/3r79l67PqBvTCcAcABxubo

    Thanks!

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