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.

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.

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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

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

sudo apt-get install 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.

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

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.

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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

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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.

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.

To close gedit, select Quit from the File menu.

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.

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.”

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

Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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