CompizFusion on Ubuntu 7.10

Mon, 22 Oct. 2007     Thomas Bendler     ~ 4 min to read

CompizFusion is the result of a merger between the Beryl composite window manager and Compiz Extras. It’s part of Ubuntu since 7.10 (aka Gutsy Gibbon). CompizFusion is the part that provides this nice looking desktop effects that are shown in every demo around the Linux desktop nowadays. To get this thing working I highly recommend to install a new distribution like Ubuntu 7.10 (or upgrade the current one) which already has these things activated. There are several guides on the internet that show how to activate them, but all of them require a lot of manual work (and also a lot of system knowledge) and are a potential risk to crash the system (because you need to change essential things like your graphical subsystem)

Normally if you install Ubuntu, the effects are automatically installed and activated. You can check this by navigating to “System > Preferences > Appearance” and choose the last tab visual effects. If the effects are disabled, you need to activate them. If you are using a restricted driver for your graphics card you may need to do s0me additional work (at least I need to do).

For my Laptop with an ATI card installed I had to install the XGL server after I’ve activated the restricted ATI driver:

> sudo apt-get install xserver-xgl

This automatically activates the XGL server after the next restart of the X subsystem. I was now able to activate the visual effects again.

For my desktop system, I have an nVidia card which needs some different actions. After activating the restricted drivers you have to restart X and install the configuration tool for the nVidia driver (if it’s not included in the driver package if I remember correctly it’s part of the new driver package). Once this is done you have to execute the following command:

> sudo nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals -d 24

This did the trick with my card, otherwise, all windows are shown without decoration after activating visual effects.

To customize the configuration you need to install the compiz config settings manager tool first. This one needs to make a custom made compiz configuration. If you are happy with the two choices that are already provided, you can skip this part:

> sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

This will add an entry to your “System > Preferences > Appearance > Visual Effects” tab called “Advanced Desktop Effects Settings”. Make sure that you have “extra effects” turned on by selecting Custom at the bottom. Clicking the Preferences button will launch the Compiz Config Settings Manager. Now you can change the following settings:

  • rotate cube
  • desktop cube
  • cube caps
  • expo
  • wobbly windows
  • water effect
  • group and tab windows
  • shift switcher

Simply play around with the listed options and find out what fits best for you. Here is a small list with shortcuts to activate several functions:

  • rotate cube
    • ctrl-alt-arrow or ctrl-alt-left-click and drag
  • expo
    • windows button-e
  • water effects
    • shift-f9 (toggle)
  • group and tab
    • select window with windows button-s
    • group with windows button-t
    • ungroup with windows button-u
  • shift switcher
    • windows button-tab

Normally it’s time now for a discussion, does it make sense or not. To be honest, find out yourself. I think some of the functions like expo and resize are really useful, others don’t. But most of them are nice looking at this is already enough for most people.

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