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According to Wikipedia:

Compiz is a compositing window manager for the X Window System, using 3D graphics hardware to create fast compositing desktop effects for window management. Effects, such as a minimization animation or a cube workspace, are implemented as loadable plugins.



There are two versions of Compiz available, the 0.8 series which is written in C and the 0.9 series which is a complete re-write of Compiz in C++. As of August 2016, both series are actively developed. Compiz 0.9 is developed by the Compiz Maintainers on Launchpad whilst Compiz 0.8 is developed by the Compiz Reloaded project on GitHub. The two series cannot be installed side by side.

0.9 series

Note: From Compiz 0.9.8 onwards, all Compiz components are developed and distributed as a single project. This means that a single package can provide all of the Compiz components.
  • Compiz — OpenGL compositing window manager with CCSM, Plugins and GTK Window Decorator. || compizAUR

0.8 series

Note: The GTK Window Decorator is provided by compiz-gtkAUR, a split package from compiz-coreAUR.


  • Compiz Core — OpenGL compositing window manager. || compiz-coreAUR

Highly recommended:

  • CompizConfig Settings Manager — Graphical settings manager for Compiz. || ccsmAUR
  • Compiz Fusion Plugins Main — Main plugins collection for Compiz. || compiz-fusion-plugins-mainAUR
  • Compiz Fusion Plugins Extra — Extra plugins collection for Compiz. || compiz-fusion-plugins-extraAUR


  • Compiz Fusion Plugins Experimental — Experimental Compiz plugins (known as Plugins Unsupported prior to version 0.8.12). || compiz-fusion-plugins-experimentalAUR


Note: Emerald since 0.8.12 and Fusion Icon since 0.1.2 support Compiz 0.9 as well as Compiz 0.8. Compiz 0.9 users using the older Emerald 0.9.5 release are recommended to switch to Emerald 0.8.12 or a higher version in the 0.8 series as Emerald 0.9 is not actively developed.
  • Emerald — A standalone window decorator for Compiz. || emeraldAUR
  • Emerald Themes — Extra themes for the Emerald window decorator. || emerald-themesAUR
  • Fusion Icon — A tray applet for starting Compiz and switching window managers and decorators on the fly. || fusion-iconAUR
  • Compiz Manager — A wrapper script to start Compiz. || compiz-managerAUR
  • Simple CCSM — Simplified graphical settings manager for Compiz 0.8. || simple-ccsmAUR

Starting Compiz

Enabling important plugins

Tip: Depending on which package you installed Compiz from, some of these plugins may already be activated.

Before starting Compiz, you should activate some plugins to provide basic window manager behaviour or else you will have no ability to drag, scale or close any windows. Important plugins are listed below:

  • Window Decoration - provides window borders, see #Window decoration.
  • Move Window.
  • Resize Window.
  • Place Windows - configure window placement options.
  • Application Switcher - provides an Alt+Tab switcher - there are numerous alternative application switcher plugins, for example: Shift Switcher, Static Application Switcher and more. Not all of them use the Alt+Tab keybinding.

To be able to switch to different viewports you will need to enable one of the following:

  • Desktop Cube & Rotate Cube - provides the spinning cube with each side being a different viewport.
  • Desktop Wall - viewports are arranged next to each other - the animation is similar to the workspace switching animation in Cinnamon and GNOME Shell.
  • Expo - creates a view of all viewports and windows when the mouse is moved into the top left corner - this plugin can be used on its own or in conjunction with either of the two previous plugins.

Window decoration

Tip: For information on selecting and managing themes, see: Compiz configuration#Window decoration themes.

The window decorator is the program which provides windows with borders. Unlike window managers such as Kwin or Xfwm which provide just one decorator, users of Compiz have a choice of three: GTK Window Decorator, KDE Window Decorator and Emerald. The GTK Window Decorator and the KDE Window Decorator are included in the Compiz source and can be optionally compiled whilst building Compiz. Emerald, on the other hand, is a separate, standalone decorator. The Window Decoration plugin in CCSM must be ticked otherwise no window decorator will be started.

Choosing the decorator

The window decorator that will be started is specified under CCSM -> Effects -> Window Decoration -> Command. The command can be one of the following executables: emerald, gtk-window-decorator, kde4-window-decorator. Use the --replace switch, e.g. emerald --replace, if specifying the decorator executable on its own is not sufficient.

Tip: In Compiz 0.9, the decorator command is set to compiz-decorator by default. This is a script which will search for the emerald, gtk-window-decorator and kde4-window-decorator executables in that order and start the first one that it finds.

Compiz startup

Note: Some Compiz versions may require you to manually load the CCP plugin on startup: compiz --replace ccp [1]

You can start Compiz using the following command:

$ compiz --replace

See compiz --help for more options.

Fusion Icon

Tip: When #Autostarting Compiz in a desktop environment fusion-icon can be set as the default command instead of compiz.

To start Compiz using Fusion Icon, execute the command below:

$ fusion-icon

To ensure that fusion-icon then starts Compiz, right click on the icon in the panel and go to select window manager. Choose Compiz if it is not selected already.

Autostarting Compiz in a desktop environment

See Desktop environment#Custom window manager.

Using Compiz as a standalone window manager

Starting the session with a display manager

A standalone Compiz session can be started from a display manager. For most display manager's - LightDM for example - all that is required is to create a .desktop file in /usr/share/xsessions that executes compiz (with command line options if needed) or fusion-icon. See the article for your display manager. See Desktop entries for information on creating a .desktop file.

Autostarting programs when using a display manager

One way in which you could start programs with your Compiz session, when it is started from a display manager, is to use an xprofile file. Another option is for the .desktop file in /usr/share/xsessions to not execute compiz directly but to execute a script which starts the programs you wish to start and also starts Compiz.

Starting the session with startx

A Compiz session can be started with startx. Define either compiz or fusion-icon in your .xinitrc file. See the xinitrc article for more details.

Add a root menu

To add a root menu similar to that in Openbox and other standalone window managers install compiz-boxmenuAUR. This program is a fork of compiz-deskmenuAUR.

Then copy the config files to your home directory as shown below:

# cp -R /etc/xdg/compiz /home/username/.config
# chown -R username:group /home/username/.config/compiz

where username is your username and group is the primary group for your user.

Then, open CCSM, navigate to the Commands plugin and in Command line 0 enter the command compiz-boxmenu. In the Key Bindings tab, set Run command 0 to Control+Space or another key/mouse button combination of choice. Take care not to use a combination that is already used for other functionality.

Now navigate to the Viewport Switcher plugin and click on the Desktop-based Viewport Switching tab. Change the Plugin for initiate action to core and change Action name for initiate to run_command0_key.

You should now find that a menu appears when you click Control+Space. To launch a graphical menu editor, click on the Edit option or run compiz-boxmenu-editor in a terminal. If you would prefer to edit your menu manually, open the following file in your favourite editor: ~/.config/compiz/boxmenu/menu.xml. For your changes to take effect, you must click the Reload option in your menu.

Allow users to shutdown/reboot

An unprivileged user should be able to execute commands such as systemctl poweroff and systemctl reboot. You could assign a keyboard shortcut to one of these commands using the Commands plugin in CCSM. Alternatively, you could create a launcher for one of these commands in compiz-boxmenuAUR - see above. For more detailed information on shutting down see the following article: Allow users to shutdown.

Tips and tricks

Restoring the native window manager

You can switch back to your desktop environment's default window manager with the following command:

wm_name --replace

using kwin, metacity or xfwm4 for example instead of wm_name.

Enabling the Alt+F2 run dialog


Enable the Gnome Compatibility plugin in CCSM.

MATE Panel

There are two ways to enable MATE Panel's run dialog in Compiz. You can either:

  • Enable the MATE Compatibility plugin in CCSM (use the Gnome Compatibility plugin for older Compiz versions which lack the MATE plugin).
  • Map the command below to the Alt+F2 key combination using the Commands plugin in CCSM.
mate-panel --run-dialog
LXDE Panel

Map the command below to the Alt+F2 key combination using the Commands plugin in CCSM.

lxpanelctl run
Xfce Appfinder

When Compiz is used in an Xfce session, the run dialog (provided by xfce4-appfinder) should work without intervention. If you are using Xfce Appfinder in a standalone Compiz session, map the command below to the Alt+F2 key combination using the Commands plugin in CCSM.

xfce4-appfinder --collapsed
Other run dialogs

Map the command for a run dialog of choice to the Alt+F2 key combination using the Commands plugin in CCSM.

Remove title bar from maximized windows

As mentioned here , enter ccsm --> Window Decoration in Effects --> Decoration Windows : change any to !state=maxvert.


Missing GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmaps

On ATI cards (first solution)

You may run into the following error when trying to run Compiz on an ATI card:

Missing GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap

This is because Compiz's binary was compiled against Mesa's OpenGL library rather than ATI's OpenGL library.

Firstly, copy the library into a directory to keep it because ATI's drivers will over write it:

$ install -Dm644 /usr/lib/ /usr/lib/mesa/

Then you can reinstall your fglrx drivers. Now start Compiz as shown below:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/mesa/ compiz --replace &

On ATI cards (second solution)

Another possible problem with GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap on ATI cards is that the card can only render it indirectly. If so, you have to pass the option to your libgl as shown below:

LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 compiz --replace &

This workaround was tested on the following card : ATI Technologies Inc Radeon R250 [Mobility FireGL 9000] (rev 02).

On Intel chips

Firstly, check that you're using the intel driver as opposed to i810. Then, use the following command to start Compiz (this command must be used every time).

LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=true compiz --replace --sm-disable &

Compiz starts without window borders with NVIDIA binary drivers

Firstly, ensure that your window decorator settings are configured correctly - see #Window decoration. If window borders still do not start try adding Option "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True" and Option "DisableGLXRootClipping" "True" to your "Screen" section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-nvidia.conf. If window borders still do not load and you have used other Options elsewhere in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ try commenting them out and using only the aformentioned ARGBGLXVisuals and GLXRootClipping Options.

Blank screen on resume from suspend-to-ram with NVIDIA binary drivers

If you receive a blank screen with a responsive cursor upon resume, try disabling sync to vblank. To do so, open CCSM, navigate to the OpenGL plugin and untick the Sync to VBlank option.

Poor performance from capable graphics cards

NVIDIA and Intel chips: If everything is configured correctly but you still have poor performance with some effects, try disabling CCSM > General Options > Display Settings > Detect Refresh Rate and instead choose a value manually.

NVIDIA chips only: The inadequate refresh rate with Detect Refresh Rate may be due to an option called DynamicTwinView being enabled by default which plays a factor in accurately reporting the maximum refresh rate that your card and display support. You can disable DynamicTwinView by adding the following line to the "Device" or "Screen" section of your /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-nvidia.conf, and then restarting your computer:

Option "DynamicTwinView" "False"

Screen flicks with NVIDIA card

To fix this behaviour create the file below:

options nvidia NVreg_RegistryDwords="PerfLevelSrc=0x2222"

Video tearing

If you experience video tearing when using Compiz, try enabling the Workarounds plugin in CCSM. Once enabled, ensure that the following options are enabled in Workarounds: Force complete redraw on initial damage, Force full screen redraws (buffer swap) on repaint.

If you are using Intel graphics and the workaround above does not fix the video tearing, see Intel graphics#Tear-free video.

Also see, #Poor performance from capable graphics cards.

Compiz effects not working (GConf backend)

If you have installed the GTK Window Decorator, check if the GConf schema was correctly installed:

$ gconftool-2 -R /apps/compiz/plugins | grep plugins

Make sure that all plugins are listed. If they are not, try to install the Compiz schema manually (do not run this command as root):

$ gconftool-2 --install-schema-file=/usr/share/gconf/schemas/compiz-decorator-gtk.schemas

Fusion Icon fails to start

If you get an output like this from the command line:

$ fusion-icon
* Detected Session: gnome
* Searching for installed applications...
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/bin/fusion-icon", line 57, in <module>
    from FusionIcon.interface import choose_interface
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/FusionIcon/", line 23, in <module>
    import start
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/FusionIcon/", line 36, in <module>
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/FusionIcon/", line 362, in check
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/", line 172, in makedirs
    mkdir(name, mode)
OSError: [Errno 13] Permission denied: '/home/andy/.config/compiz'

the problem is with the permission on ~/.config/compiz/. To fix it, use:

# chown -R username /home/username/.config/compiz/

Alt+F4 keybinding not working (Xfce)

If Compiz replaces Xfwm4 at login, this can cause the Alt+F4 keybinding to become non-functional. To avoid this issue, ensure that only Compiz is started at login - see Xfce#Default window manager.

Emerald crashes when selecting a theme

You may find that Emerald crashes when selecting certain themes (especially themes that use the legacy engine). If this occurs, select another theme in Emerald Theme Manager and then run the command emerald --replace.

No system bell when Compiz is running

You may find that the system bell (such as the drip sound played when pressing backspace at the beginning of a line in GNOME or MATE Terminal) will not sound if Compiz is running. See the following upstream bug report.

PulseAudio users, as a workaround, can force PulseAudio to handle the system bell, see PulseAudio#X11 Bell Events.

Compiz crashes when enabling the Gnome Compatibility plugin (GSettings backend)

If you are using the GSettings backend, you may find that Compiz crashes if you try to enable the Gnome Compatibility plugin. In order to enable this plugin whilst using the GSettings backend you need to open CCSM and navigate to Preferences. Under the header Integration untick the box labelled Enable integration into the desktop environment. After unticking this option, you should find it possible to enable the Gnome Compatibility plugin.

Windows lose focus when unminimised

You may find that certain windows (such as a Chromium window) will lose focus when unminimised. See the following upstream bug report. One possible solution is to enable the Keep previews of minimized windows option, located within the Workarounds plugin.

Note: If you use the Chrome/Chromium browser and you enable this workaround, you will need to ensure that the Use system title bar and borders option within Chrome is enabled. If Chrome's own titlebar is used with the Keep previews of minimized windows Compiz workaround then when Chrome is minimized, the desktop beneath will become unresponsive.

Popout windows are offset when Compiz is running

You may find that popout windows for panels which are placed at the bottom of the screen are offset by a few pixels so that the window appears to float above the panel. This problem is known to affect Xfce and KDE and may affect other desktops as well. Listed below are a number of workarounds that might fix some cases.

  • Place the panel at the top of screen instead of the bottom - this should work in most cases.
  • Disable the Place Windows plugin - this works for the Xfce Whisker Menu plugin but may not work elsewhere.
  • Use fixed window placement to determine the window's position. This can be set from the Place Windows plugin. For instance, for the Whisker Menu, specify that the window with the title Whisker Menu should appear at (-1, -1).

For more information, see the following upstream bug report.

Alt-Tab switcher has no background (Emerald)

You may find that the Alt-Tab switcher (provided by the staticswitcher or switcher plugins) has a completely transparent background when using Emerald as well. This can make it hard to differentiate window thumbnails from the desktop background behind them. As of Compiz 0.9.12 (revision 3975) a workaround is available. In CCSM, navigate to Application Switcher or Static Application Switcher depending on which plugin you are using. For the former, the Background settings are located under General and for the latter the settings are located under Appearance. Once you have found the settings, ensure that the Set background color box is ticked. The default is a dark grey which can be optionally changed.

Alternatively, use GTK Window Decorator instead of Emerald or use a different window switcher altogether such as the shift switcher. Note that even if you are using the GTK Window Decorator, you can still change the background color as described above.

Mouse cursor invisible or X shaped on startup

See Cursor themes#Change X shaped default cursor.

Known issues

Plugins in Compiz 0.8 are not present in Compiz 0.9

Some plugins that were popular in Compiz 0.8 were disabled in Compiz versions 0.9.8 and above in order to complete OpenGL ES support. A few of the disabled plugins have since been re-enabled; for instance, the Animations Add-On plugin was re-enabled for the Compiz release. Other currently-disabled plugins that receive patches for this issue may well be re-enabled in future releases. For more information, see the Compiz 0.9.8 release notes.

Likewise, Compiz Plugins Unsupported (a package which includes plugins such as Atlantis) is unavailable in recent versions of Compiz 0.9. It has not been developed for the Compiz 0.9 series since Compiz 0.9.5 and no longer builds successfully.

Xfce panel window buttons are not refreshed when a window changes viewport

You may find that if you right click on a window title and choose an option such as Move to Workspace Right then the window will move but the window button will still be visible in the viewport the window moved from until you switch viewports. This issue can be fixed by replacing xfce4-panel with xfce4-panel-compizAUR which incorporates a patch for this issue. See the following upstream bug report for more information.

Compiz crashes when enabling the D-Bus plugin

The D-Bus plugin will cause Compiz to crash if enabled in conjunction with certain other plugins such as the Cube plugin. See the following upstream bug report.

Workspace pager and window buttons issues

Only a few panels and docks are compatible with Compiz's viewports. Incompatible panels and docks may display issues such as showing all window buttons in all workspaces or the workspace pager may only show one workspace available. The panels listed below are known to be compatible:

Xfce workspace switcher has wrong aspect ratio

When Compiz is used with Xfce Panel 4.11 and above, the workspace pager will use the width of only one workspace but will divide this space into ever smaller bars, according to how many viewports Compiz specifies. This issue can be fixed by replacing xfce4-panel with xfce4-panel-compizAUR which incorporates a patch for this issue. For more information, see the following upstream bug report.

See also