When comparing Cairo-Dock vs Ulauncher, the Slant community recommends Ulauncher for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux app launchers?” Ulauncher is ranked 3rd while Cairo-Dock is ranked 12th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Easy to tweak and make your own themes
Drag and drop, change icons, use effects, etc. It's fun to play with. It's not a basic dock program and the GUI is good.
Pro Cairo-Dock session
Users can choose to launch a stand alone Cairo-Dock session where the dock also serves as a taskbar where all apps are launchable such as in any other DE session. There is a composited version and one without.
Pro Popular and usually found and installed from a distros repo
Due to the popularity and how long Cairo-Dock has been around it is more often than not found in a distros repos, which is very convenient to get the app installed.
Pro Easily themed
Cairo-Dock has built in settings to install and use themes for the dock and icons. Definitely more robust in this are than most other docks available for Linux.
Pro Allows custom shortcuts
Pro Supports extensions in Python
Pro Supports fuzzy search
You can enter app name with a typo and Ulauncher will still be able to find it.
ULauncher supports themes and comes with a good supply on install but more can also be made.
Pro Able to launch Kdialog, Zenity and Bash scripts
Extensions are easily created. Python script is all open to see. Not compiled like some.
Con Poor/No system theme or icon integration.
Docks use their own theme, own theme colors, icons, layout's and theme engines.
Con Hard/Underwhelming to configure.
Cairo dock proposes a feature rich tool, tweakable to any degree. The configuration menus are at times inappropriate, shallow and uninteresting, complex to navigate, and prefab-centric. Rarely offering a satisfying preset, and always unsatisfying to tweak.
Con Can be heavy on resources for weaker systems
Cairo-Dock is more on the heavy side when compared to other docks, which is something to keep in mind for those that are on low resource systems.