Sunday, 11 April 2010

Awn & Awn-Extras 0.4.0 are out!

It's been over 14 months the Awn and Awn Extras teams had interesting news, but the time has come to introduce our latest and so far greatest release. For the past year we've been busy with rewriting our precious dock and making it even more awesome, and today you can see the results of this work. Take a look at this screencast of various Awn settings done by moonbeam - one of our developers:

Avant Window Navigator is a dock for the Free Desktop which shows your launchers and open applications. It also contains support for extensions, via plugins for third-party applications, which communicate with the dock with DBus, and via applets, which allows for workspace switchers, system trays, clocks, etc., to be embedded in the dock. These applets can be written in Vala, Python or C.

Awn Extras is a catch-all project which houses mainly third-party applets for use with Avant Window Navigator.

I'm sure you're curious about what's new in this version, so here we go:
  • Awn can be finally positioned on any edge of the screen.
  • You can now pick among these background styles: Flat, Edgy, 3D, Curved, Floaty.
  • Expanded mode (Awn will cover whole screen width).
  • Autohide was completely revamped and Awn now supports Intellihide and Window Dodge modes.
  • Loading and crash indicators - no more white lines!

  • Added possibility to change Awn's alignment - you don't have to have it centered.
  • Awn tries to blend in with your theme colors by default.
  • Added four beautiful themes.
  • Most of the icons can be changed by simply dragging an icon file onto them.
  • Basic support for environments without compositing (desktop-effects).
  • Added simple Preferences applet (drag it to screen edges / different monitors to quickly change Awn orientation).
  • Task manager applet now supports grouping of windows.
For developers we have the following news:
  • Awn deprecated its old DBus interface ( and uses now new DBus interface (org.freedesktop.DockManager). This new interface should be soon supported by other dock applications and therefore you no longer need to worry that you're writing your plugin for a specific dock.
  • For applet developers we have new API, check out the documentation to see what's available (usually libawn-doc package).
News for packagers:
  • Awn now depends on the new libdesktop-anostic library, which provides extensible configuration API, a unified virtual file system API, and a desktop item editor (all with pluggable backends).
Known issues:
  • Location of user settings were changed, therefore you'll need to set-up all your preferences again if you're upgrading.
  • Themes which were made for previous Awn versions are not compatible.

Notable changes in Awn Extras:

New applets:
  • YAMA: Yet Another Menu Applet that uses a Gtk+ menu for applications and preferences, has support for places, recent documents, and can lock the screen, logout or shutdown
  • Garbage - replaces old Trash applet
  • Hardware Sensors
  • System Monitor
  • Dialect Applet - Keyboard indicator
  • SlickSwitcher - a compiz-oriented workspace switcher
  • Feeds - fetches data from RSS/Atom / Google reader / Google Wave / Reedit Inbox / Twitter
Significant changes to existing applets:
  • Cairo Clock: loads locations search window much faster
  • Mount Applet: rewritten
  • Quit Applet: clicking can now either lock the screen, log you out, or shut down the system. You can configure the applet to display a docklet, presenting the 3 actions (lock screen, log out, shut down)
  • File-browser-launcher: can display multiple icons
  • Volume Control: uses GStreamer instead of pyalsaaudio
  • Weather: support for more icon themes, improvement of the preferences window, and reworked network code (improving the responsiveness of the applet)
  • ThinkHDAPS, Volume Control, Weather now use system theme by default and automatically respond to system theme change.
  • Cairo menu: rewritten, now allows adding icons for arbitrary menus.
  • Media Control: displays album art if available (can be set to use docklet mode)

How to get these goodies?

If you're running Ubuntu Lucid, you can just use the software center to get it (search for "avant window navigator"). Packages for older Ubuntu versions should appear within a day or so in awn-core PPA. Packages for other distros will likely appear in a couple of days. Of course you can also download the release tarballs (awn-extras, libdesktop-agnostic) and try to install from source.

And now some screenshots from Awn users:


  1. Please point me to the discussion of org.freedesktop.DockManager on

  2. There wasn't one yet, we only had a discussion with Docky developers, and the API is still in "proposal" state. Feel free to comment on it (for example here

  3. you should also take a look at the Cairo-Dock's Dbus API, it's a quite powerful API and many applets already use it.

  4. @fab: This API focuses manipulating items on the dock (setting text, different icon, adding menu items), I see you also have DBus methods for these, so you should consider implementing this interface as well. See my last post for a branch that can be used to test it.

  5. It's quite a pity Cairo-Dock's people were not aware of this proposal sooner, they have worked a lot on their DBus API lately...
    But, are the people of FreeDesktop aware that this interface exists? Perhaps it would be a good idea to summarize and continue the discussion on the mailing list.
    On the "plus" side, I really think having a common dock DBus API is a good idea :)
    One idea: if a plugin wants to detect what is the dock it is communicating with, will there be a way to tell him?

  6. I still have a feeling you're expecting a full fledged dock API that handles applets, adding more items on the dock etc. But this API is not trying to do that (the specified part is equivalent to Cairo Dock's SetQuickInfo, SetLabel, SetIcon, ..), I think the differences in docks are too big to handle all this.
    On the other hand it provides a nice interface which can be extended by your implementation to allow this all (if you wish). Still, primary use case is to provide other applications (media players, download managers, mail & im clients) a unified way to display extra data.

    @Christophe: There's GetCapabilities() method where you can return your implementation-specific feature list. (for example awn returns as one of the capabilities "x-awn-set-visibility" which is our extension).

  7. People, this is just gorgeous. Congratulations for the work, you have made a lovely and fantastic release!

  8. Thank you. I want to try on my desktop.

  9. Have installed awn 0.4.0 and `window preview` is not working. I am using ubuntu 10.04. Can anyone help ?

  10. Just curious if AWN is still being developed or abandoned?

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