In this article, we will show you a few methods for customizing the dock panel in the default GNOME desktop environment on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa Linux.

GNOME is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu 20.04, and one of the first things you'll see on your desktop is the dock panel to the left of the screen. The dock panel is highly customizable, so it's easy to tailor it to your liking.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to adjust dock panel appearance in settings menu
  • How to use dconf-Editor for granular dock panel settings
  • How to adjust settings via command line
  • How to revert undesirable changes to the dock panel
Customized dock panel on Ubuntu 20.04
Customized dock panel on Ubuntu 20.04

Software Requirements and Conventions Used

Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Installed or upgraded Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa
Software GNOME desktop environment
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Basic customization in Ubuntu settings

GNOME provides us with some basic customization options in the settings. Navigate to Settings > Appearance to toggle auto-hide, adjust icon size, and choose the position of the dock.

Adjust appearance in Settings menu
Adjust appearance in Settings menu

By default, these are all the options you'll find for customizing the dock panel. If you'd like more control over how it looks on your system, it's necessary to install an additional tool like dconf-editor. To get started, open a terminal window and type the following Linux command:

$ sudo apt install dconf-editor

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After it's intalled, you'll be able to access it inside the Applications window, as seen here:

Open Applications and then dconf-Editor
Open Applications and then dconf-Editor
WARNING
There are a lot of options packed into this tool, as it provides granular customization for many aspects of GNOME. In other words: be careful about editing the settings in here, and don't do so haphazardly. We'll show you how to revert your GNOME settings below, in case something goes awry.

Inside dconf-Editor, you can find the dock panel settings by navigating to this schema: org > gnome > shell > extensions > dash-to-dock.

dconf-Editor
dconf-Editor

This menu provides convenient access to a lot of customization that isn't otherwise possible, but you can also utilize dconf-Editor via the command line.

For example, the following list of commands will yield the result shown in the screenshot below:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock extend-height false
$ gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock dock-position BOTTOM
$ gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock transparency-mode FIXED
$ gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock dash-max-icon-size 64
$ gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock unity-backlit-items true
Customized dock panel, final result
Customized dock panel, final result


Experiment with your own values to get the dock panel looking exactly as you'd like. If you end up with an undesirable result and have trouble reverting things back, use dconf-Editor's reset directive to revert a setting to its default.

For example, we set the dash-max-icon-size to 64 above. The command to revert this setting would be:

$ gsettings reset org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock dash-max-icon-size

Conclusion

In this article, we saw how to adjust the dock panel on the GNOME desktop environment in Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. Through the use of the default settings menu and the extra settings found in dconf-Editor, you are now capable of editing the dock panel to look any way you want.

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