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Screen real estate is the amount of space available on a display for an application to provide output. Typically, the effective use of screen real estate is one of the most difficult design challenges because of the desire to have as much data and as many controls as possible visible on the screen to minimize the need for hidden commands and scrolling.

About a week ago, we wrote about gaining some space on your Linux Desktop (but the tutorial was focused on Ubuntu) by removing the titlebar of maximized applications - which can be achieved either with Maximus or Compiz. But at the time, we only provided some keyboard shortcuts to handle these windows. Read on to find out another way to do this and also how to use DockBarX for some even more optimization.

Before we get started, here is a small screencast I have just recorded with both NameBar and DockBarX in action:

Using NameBar to handle windows without a titlebar

In the article I was talking about, we also covered plenty ways of handling windows without a titlebar, but here is yet another way which I am sure you will find very useful: using NameNar. NameBar shows the icon and the name of the focused window on the panel, as well as buttons for minimizing/(un)maximizing and closing the window. It's meant to be used with Maximus or Compiz. Together with DockBarX (or DockBar - we will cover it later on) it replaces the netbook remix window picker applet. Here is NameBar in action:
namebar ubuntu

Installing NameBar in Ubuntu

The latest version of NameBar can be found on Gnome-Look but it's not that easy to use, however there is an Ubuntu PPA for it which doesn't include the latest version nor a version for Ubuntu Karmic Koala, but I have just tested it in Karmic and it works just fine, so to install it, download the following .deb file: namebar_0.2-1~ppa0_all.deb (20.7 KiB) Update: here is a NameBar 0.5 Ubuntu .deb: Download: gnome-namebar-applet_0.5-1~ppa1_all.deb (56.0 KiB) Once installed, right click your Gnome panel, select "NameBar Applet". You should now see NameBar on your panel.

Installing DockBarX

dockbarx screenshot
DockbarX is a taskbar with grouping and group manipulation with some "experimental" features compared to Docbark (it is not a fork of Dockbar, but a branch of DockBar holding new "experimental" features). You can choose to either install DockBarX or DockBar, but I for one prefer DockBarX (they are both in the same PPA). You can use it to gain a lot of space because it only shows the icons for the applications currently running, while the normal Gnome Panel Window List applet also shows their names. Also, obviously, grouping windows is also very useful for gaining some space, especially if you own a netbook. To install DockBar or DockBarX, firstly add the following Ubuntu PPA: -For Ubuntu Karmic Koala and Ubuntu Lucid Lynx:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dockbar-main/ppa
-For Ubuntu Hardy, Intrepid or Jaunty:
sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/dockbar-main/ppa/ubuntu YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list"
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 38BD81CA
Replacing YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE with hardy, intrepid or jaunty, depending on which Ubuntu version you use. If at the time you are trying to install this, keyserver.ubuntu.com is down (it goes down quite often), use our work-around. Then, install either DockBar or DockBarX: -DockBarX:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install dockbarx
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install dockbar
Now right click a Gnome panel and select "Add to panel" and add "DockBarX Applet" or "DockBar Applet" (whichever you installed). You can also use DockBarX on a separate Gnome Panel at the bottom, with larger icons, autohide and without "expand" to get something very similar to a dock menu:
dockbarx as dock
To do this, right click on an existing Gnome panel, select "New Panel", then on the newly created panel, add DockBarX, right click it and select properties and on the "General" tab, uncheck the "Expand" option, check "Autohide" and increase the panel height (I've set mine to 45):
gnome panel options
DockBarX also comes with some themes:
Shinybar A very well made, beautiful win7 style theme. Alex Kaehler (levviathor) tries to bend the theme engine to it's limits. Other theme creators could learn something from looking at his config file. Shiny! http://levviathor.deviantart.com/art/Shinybar-Dockbar-theme-135875506 Tonkybar Tonkybar is simply well functioning and gorgeous. Supports multiple windows. The author is BigRZA. http://bigrza.deviantart.com/art/tonkybar-for-DockbarX-140364738 Glassified Glassified is a simple and beautiful theme by pi4sek. http://www.gnome-look.org/content/show.php/Glassified+theme+for+DockbarX+0.21.11?content=109283 White Another theme by pi4sek. http://www.gnome-look.org/content/show.php/White+theme+for+DockbarX+0.21.11?content=107827 MacOSish mojo2012 has made a theme with the black triangle (famous from MacOS tiger) under started program, for all you MacOS fans out there. Other than that it looks like the default theme mostly. http://www.wuala.com/mojo2012/Public/MacOSX.tar.gz
Do you know yet another way to maximize / optimize the screen real estate?
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