7 Great Ubuntu Application Launchers You Can Use

Last Updated: January 9, 2017

By default, Ubuntu comes with the Unity desktop environment, and while it is quite a good interface, especially for people who are new to Linux, you may want to use a different launcher. Maybe you want a launcher that looks more like the dock on your Mac, or the taskbar on Windows. Either way, there are quite a lot of options that you can choose from, when it comes to application launchers for Ubuntu. So, if you’re looking for some Unity launcher alternatives, here are 7 great Ubuntu application launchers you can use:

1. Docky

Docky is as close as you can get to the macOS dock on Ubuntu. The launcher works exactly the way a Mac’s dock works, and you can configure it to use different themes, styles, and even align it elsewhere on the screen. One of the best features in Docky, is that you can create multiple docks, and place them on any edge of the screen. You can configure the theme for each dock that you create, along with specific docklets that you want to place there. The battery info docklet is especially useful, if you need to monitor your battery at a glance. Docky allows for a lot of customization, and is definitely one of the application launchers for Ubuntu that you should try.

docky

How to Install Docky on Ubuntu

Installing Docky is easy, as well, you just have to open up the Terminal, and type in the following command:

  • sudo apt-get install docky

docky-install

2. Gnome Pie

Gnome Pie is a very different type of a launcher. It does not work as a Dock, or as a Panel. You have to activate Gnome Pie with its activation hotkey, and it presents a pie-like menu with the applications, directories, etc that you can open. Gnome Pie is customizable, and you can create menus that suit your style of working. You can create multiple “slices” for different types of applications. By default, Gnome Pie comes with slices for the main menu, media applications, utilities, directories, and a lot more. You can mix and match these to create a highly customized Gnome Pie for your Ubuntu system.

gnome-pie

How to Install Gnome Pie on Ubuntu

Installing Gnome Pie can be quickly done using the following command in Terminal:

  • sudo apt-get install gnome-pie

gnome-pie-install

3. Albert

Albert is a powerful application launcher for Ubuntu. It is suitable for people who prefer using the keyboard to navigate around their system. The app launches with a customizable hotkey, and looks a lot like the Spotlight in macOS. The features offered by Albert are similar to Spotlight, as it can launch apps, perform calculations, and do a lot more. Albert is highly customizable, and is recommended for people who like using their keyboards, as much as possible. By default, Albert does not come with a hotkey defined, so you will have to set up a hotkey on the first launch (I’d suggest ctrl+space), and after that, you’re good to go.

albert

How to Install Albert on Ubuntu

Albert is not available in the default repositories, yet. So you will have to run a couple of extra Terminal commands, in order to install it on your system:

  • sudo apt-add-repository ppa:flexiondotorg/albert

albert-install-step-1

  • sudo apt-get update

albert-install-step-2

  • sudo apt-get install albert

albert-install-step-3

4. ClassicMenu Indicator

ClassicMenu Indicator is perfect for people who prefer having hierarchical trees of the apps, and utilities that they can use. CustomMenu Indicator lives in the menu bar of your Ubuntu system, and reveals a menu reminiscent of the old Windows start menus (only on the opposite edge of the display). Applications, and utilities are clearly laid out, and you can quickly reach any application that you want. ClassicMenu Indicator does not exactly replace the default Unity launcher, but lives alongside it.

classicmenu

How to Install ClassicMenu Indicator on Ubuntu

You can install ClassicMenu Indicator on Ubuntu, with just a couple of Terminal commands:

  • sudo apt-add-repository ppa:diesch/testing

classicmenu-indicator-install-step-1

  • sudo apt-get update

classicmenu-indicator-install-step-2

  • sudo apt-get install classicmenu-indicator

classicmenu-indicator-install-step-3

5. Plank

Plank is another app launcher for Ubuntu that you can use as a Unity launcher alternative. It’s similar to Docky, and by extension, the macOS Dock. You can customize a lot of settings in Plank, and install docklets to add functionality. There are docklets available for battery stats, volume adjustment, time, and a lot more; so, you can customize Plank as much as you want and get the perfect looking dock. You can also use themes to change the look of Plank, and match it to your overall system aesthetics.

plank

How to Install Plank on Ubuntu

Plank can be installed on Ubuntu with a simple Terminal command:

  • sudo apt-get install plank

plank-install

6. Zazu

Zazu is an application that is very similar to the Spotlight in macOS. You can perform a lot of functions in Zazu. Just like Albert, Zazu is recommended for people who prefer using the keyboard, as much as possible. With Zazu, you can perform calculations, launch applications, open websites, and perform searches. You can even develop your own plugins for Zazu, and add them to your Zazu configuration, to make it as powerful as you want.

zazu

How to Install Zazu on Ubuntu

You can install Zazu on your Ubuntu system by downloading the deb file from the Zazu website. When you double click on the downloaded file, it will open up in Ubuntu Software Center. Here, simply click on Install to install the app on your system.

7. DockbarX

If you like the Windows taskbar, and you want a taskbar like application launcher for your Ubuntu system, you should check out DockbarX. This app launcher looks exactly like the taskbar on Windows machines, and works in much the same way. You can add plugins to DockbarX, and create your own customized version of the taskbar. Some of the best plugins that you can add to DockbarX, are the battery monitor plugin, volume settings, and time plugins. There are lot more plugins for DockbarX, and you can check them out in the DockbarX preferences.

dockbarx

How to Install DockbarX on Ubuntu

To install DockbarX on Ubuntu, you just have to use the following commands in the Terminal:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dockbar-main/ppa

dockbarx-install-step-1

  • sudo apt-get update

dockbarx-install-step-2

  • sudo apt-get install dockbarx

dockbarx-install-step-3

SEE ALSO: 10 Must Have Linux Apps You Should Install

Use These Ubuntu Application Launchers and Unity Desktop Alternatives

There are quite a lot of application launchers available for Ubuntu, however, these were the ones I personally liked a lot. You can use any of these launchers (or try out others), and customize them endlessly to get the perfect launcher that you want. So, which app launchers do you use in Ubuntu? Do you use the default Unity launcher? Do share your thoughts with us, and if you know of any other great Ubuntu application launchers that you think deserve to be on this list, do let us know about them in the comments section below.

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