The Avant Window Navigator (Awn) project has released version 0.3.2 of the dock for the Free Desktop, and its applets. This represents a year’s worth of bug fixes, performance improvements, and new applets. The developers are actively working on getting updated packages to various distributions. The source code tarballs for both the dock and the applets are available on Launchpad.
With this release under their belt, the developers are now focusing their attention on their next major milestone, version 0.4.0. This is a complete rewrite of the dock internals, enabling such features as a user-positioned dock, improved autohide support, a more feature-packed task manager, and better handling of applet crashes.
After using this new release of the Avant Windows Navigator it becomes clear that this is one of the first non-Mac OS X docks that actually seems to be any good, and that doesn’t come with the usual flaws that other non-Apple docks carry. Usually, these docks are riddled with bugs, drawing errors, crashes, bad icon scaling, jittery animation, and my number one pet hate: a separate icon theme. This release of AWN picked up my GNOME icon set without any problems – even though the project’s FAQ says it shouldn’t do that. Well, you don’t hear me complain.
Best of all, however, AWN doesn’t feel like a slapped-on afterthought; it really feels as part of my GNOME desktop. The applets it comes with, such as the applications menu replacement and the weather applet, are well-designed, stable, and look very good. Especially the weather applet stands out in that regard; I love the “fan display” of the forecasts. Very well done.
It’s not without its problems, of course. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t get the system tray applet to work; it kept on complaining about another system tray being in use, even though I had killed the GNOME tray already. It also comes with this weird reflection that looks really crappy, but I can’t seem to turn it off.
In any case, if you want to give it a go, you can get it now.