cairo-dock man page

cairo-dock — A dock to launch your programs easily.


cairo-dock [options]


Cairo-Dock is a pretty, light and convenient interface to your desktop, able to replace advantageously your system panel!

It features multi-docks, taskbar, launchers and a lot of useful applets.
Applets can be detached from the dock to act as desktop widgets.
Numerous ready-to-use themes are downloadable in 1 click, and can be easily customized at your convenience.
It can use hardware acceleration (OpenGL) to be very fast and low on CPU.

It's recommended to install the PLUG-INS package ( cairo-dock-plug-ins ) to have access to more views, dialogues and many plug-ins and applets.

Some screenshots are available :

Development site:


You can launch Cairo-Dock with several options :
(Note : you can use these options in one block. For example : cairo-dock -oia )

-c, --cairo

Force Cairo backend. Use this option if you have issue with the OpenGL mode.

-o, --opengl

Force OpenGL backend. Cairo-Dock with OpenGL/Hardware acceleration.

-O, --indirect-opengl

Use OpenGL backend with indirect rendering. There are very few case where this option should be used.

-A, --ask-backend

Ask again on startup which backend to use.

-l, --log [option]

Log verbosity (options : debug, message, warning, critical, error - default is 'warning').
For example : cairo-dock -l debug

-F, --colors

Force to display some output messages with colors even if these messages are not displayed into a tty.

-w, --wait

Wait for N seconds before starting. This is useful if you notice some problems when the dock starts with the session.

-a, --keep-above

Force to keep the dock above other windows.

-s, --no-sticky

Don't make the dock appear on all desktops.

-e, --env

Force the dock to consider this environment (gnome, xfce, etc.) - it may crash the dock if not set properly.

-d, --dir

Force the dock to load the configuration in this directory  (default is ~/.config/cairo-dock).

-m, --maintenance

Allow to edit the config before the dock is started and show the config panel on startup.

-x, --exclude

Exclude a given plug-in from activating (it is still loaded though).

-f, --safe-mode

Don't load any plug-ins and show the theme manager on startup.

-W, --metacity-workaround

Work around some bugs in Metacity Window-Manager (invisible dialogs or sub-docks)

-M, --modules-dir

Ask the dock to load additional modules contained in this directory (though it is unsafe for your dock to load unofficial modules).

-T, --testing

For debugging purpose only. The crash manager will not be started to hunt down the bugs.

-E, --easter-eggs

For debugging purpose only. Some hidden and still unstable options will be activated.

-S, --server

Address of a server containing additional themes. This will overwrite the default server address.

-k, --locked

Lock the dock so that any modification is impossible for users.


Some other options with an output in the terminal :

-v, --version

Print version and quit.

-h, --help

Show the help and quit.

-C, --capuccino

Cairo-Dock makes anything, including coffee !



Your config files are saved in this repertory. You can use '-d' option to change it.


Data files for Cairo-Dock.


Binary files for Cairo-Dock and its plug-ins.


Most of the Cairo-Dock project was written by Fabrice Rey (fabounet) <>.

The Cairo-Dock Team is currently formed by Fabounet (Fabrice Rey) and Matttbe (Matthieu Baerts).
With the help of Eduardo Mucelli for our third-party applets.

Thanks to our former developers: Mav (Yann Sladek), Tofe (Christophe Chapuis), Nochka85 (Yann Dulieu), ChanGFu (Rémy Robertson), Paradoxxx Zero (Florian Mounier), Necropotame (Adrien Pilleboue), Rom1 (Romain Perol), Ctaf , Augur and SQP as well as numerous beta testers and contributors: lylambda, taiebot65, Franksuse64, ppmt, etc. see the 'About' menu in the dock and this web page.

Don't hesitate to contribute to this project ;)
Please have a look at this wiki page:

This manual page was started by Julien Lavergne <>, for the Debian project (but may be used by others).
Updated by Matthieu Baerts (matttbe) <>.


Your bug is maybe a recurrent problem (black background, window at startup (use -c or -o), problem with OpenGL, etc.). Please go to:

For any other bugs, you can post them on Cairo-Dock forum:
or on Launchpad


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Apr. 10, 2011