Difference between revisions of "Compiz"

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(Troubleshooting: added section on video tearing and intel graphics)
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* Xfce - See [[Xfce#Default window manager]].
* Xfce - See [[Xfce#Default window manager]].
* LXDE - See [[LXDE#Replace the default window manager]].
* LXDE - See [[LXDE#Replace Openbox]].
* LXQt - See [[LXQt#Replace the default window manager]].
* LXQt - See [[LXQt#Replace the default window manager]].

Revision as of 19:32, 15 March 2015


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.



As of May 2013, Compiz is no longer available in the official repositories. Packages for installing both the 0.9 and 0.8 series are available in the AUR. The two series are not parallel installable.

Note: With the exception of the compiz-coreAUR package, all of the packages listed as required provide the GTK Window Decorator by default. See #Window Decoration.

Installing the 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.
https://launchpad.net/compiz || compizAUR, compiz-bzrAUR


  • Emerald — A standalone window decorator for Compiz.
http://cgit.compiz.org/fusion/decorators/emerald || emerald0.9AUR
  • Emerald Themes — Extra themes for the Emerald window decorator.
http://cgit.compiz.org/fusion/decorators/emerald-themes/ || emerald-themesAUR
  • Fusion Icon — A tray applet for starting Compiz and switching window decorators on the fly.
https://github.com/kozec/fusion-icon-gtk3 || fusion-icon0.9AUR

Installing the 0.8 series


  • Compiz Core — OpenGL compositing window manager.
http://cgit.compiz.org/compiz/core/ || compiz-coreAUR, compiz-gtk-standaloneAUR, compiz-core-mateAUR

Highly recommended:

  • CompizConfig Settings Manager — Graphical settings manager for Compiz.
http://cgit.compiz.org/compiz/compizconfig/ccsm/ || ccsmAUR
  • Compiz Fusion Plugins Main — Plugins that provide core functionality for Compiz.
http://cgit.compiz.org/compiz/plugins-main/ || compiz-fusion-plugins-mainAUR
  • Compiz Fusion Plugins Extra — Plugins that provide non-critical functionality for Compiz.
http://cgit.compiz.org/compiz/plugins-extra/ || compiz-fusion-plugins-extraAUR


  • Compiz Fusion Plugins Unsupported — Unsupported Compiz plugins.
http://cgit.compiz.org/compiz/plugins-unsupported/ || compiz-fusion-plugins-unsupportedAUR
  • Emerald — A standalone window decorator for Compiz.
http://cgit.compiz.org/fusion/decorators/emerald || emeraldAUR
  • Emerald Themes — Extra themes for the Emerald window decorator.
http://cgit.compiz.org/fusion/decorators/emerald-themes/ || emerald-themesAUR
  • Fusion Icon — A tray applet for starting Compiz and switching window decorators on the fly.
http://www.compiz.org/ || fusion-iconAUR

Starting Compiz

Enabling important plugins

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 e.g. 'Shift Switcher,' 'Static Application Switcher' etc. Not all of them use the Alt+Tab keybinding).
  • OpenGL - (only visible in CCSM 0.9).
  • Composite - (only visible in CCSM 0.9).

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 (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 mutter, Kwin or Xfwm which provide just one decorator, users of Compiz have a choice of three: Emerald, GTK Window Decorator and KDE Window Decorator. 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.

To set the default decorator for compiz, start CCSM - you can do this by running the ccsm command in a terminal. Then navigate to the 'Effects' section and ensure that the 'Window Decoration' plugin is ticked. Then click on the 'Window Decoration' button and in the 'Command' field enter the relevant command for your decorator:

  • emerald --replace
  • gtk-window-decorator --replace
  • kde4-window-decorator --replace

Compiz startup

Note: Due to a packaging error, it was once necessary to use the ccp switch with the compiz --replace command in order to load Compiz plugins. The packaging error has been corrected and use of the ccp switch should no longer be necessary.

You can start Compiz using the following command:

$ compiz --replace &
Tip: If the compiz --replace & command does not work when entered in a run dialog, try running the command without the ampersand: compiz --replace.

A quick overview of some common Compiz command-line options:

  • --indirect-rendering: Force an indirect rendering context. Use this when running compiz on AIGLX.
  • --loose-binding: Enable strict binding of textures. Use this when running compiz on AIGLX.
  • --replace: Replace any existing window managers on the given X display.
  • --sm-disable: Disable the session management.

See compiz --help for more options.

Fusion Icon

Tip: Fusion Icon can be set as the default window manager for a desktop environment - see #Autostarting Compiz/Fusion Icon in a desktop environment.

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 isn't selected already.

Autostarting Compiz/Fusion Icon in a desktop environment

Refer to your desktop environment's article for instructions on replacing the default window manager. Links are provided below.


Compiz cannot be used with GNOME Shell however alternative GNOME sessions which use Compiz are available.


Compiz cannot be used with Cinnamon.

Other desktop environments

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, LXDM, GDM etc) all that's required is to create a .desktop file in /usr/share/xsessions defining the Compiz session. See the article for your display manager to check if this is the case.

Firstly, create the /usr/share/xsessions directory if it does not already exist. Then create the .desktop file. A basic example is provided below:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Start a standalone Compiz session

Then just choose 'Compiz' from your sessions list and log in.

Note: Some display managers are stricter than others regarding the syntax of .desktop files. If a Compiz option does not appear in your display manager's session menu you will need to edit your .desktop file to make it compatible. The example above should work in most cases.

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. The xprofile file is similar in syntax to xinitrc - it can contain commands for programs you wish to start with your session. Most display managers will parse commands from an xprofile file by default.

Alternatively, you could use Compiz's 'Session Management' plugin. This plugin will save running programs on exit and restore them when the session is next started. Simply enable the 'Session Management' plugin in CCSM.

Starting the session with startx

To start Compiz with the startx command, add the following line to your ~/.xinitrc file:

exec compiz

You can also use fusion icon as shown below:

exec fusion-icon

You can autostart additional programs (such as a panel) by adding the relevant command to your ~/.xinitrc file. Below is an example of a ~/.xinitrc file which starts Compiz, the tint2 panel and the Cairo dock.

tint2 &
cairo-dock &
exec compiz

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 (you can use the 'Grab key combination' option to simplify this process.)

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.

Note: Whilst Control+Space is the default keybinding for compiz-boxmenu you can assign the menu to other keybindings or mousebindings as well. Take care if doing so as Compiz bindings will take precedence over keybindings. For instance, if you assign compiz-boxmenu to Button3 then you may lose all other right click functionality. If the keybinding/mousebinding you are attempting to create has any conflicts, CCSM will display a warning.

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.


Panels and docks

There are a number of panels and docks available in Arch however only a few are compatible with Compiz's viewports. They are listed below:

Note: Other panels and docks can be run with Compiz however their desktop pagers will show only one virtual desktop and all window buttons will be shown in all viewports regardless of which viewport the window happens to be in.

Run dialog

Note: The panels mentioned above must be running in order to use their respective run dialogs.

Alternatively you could install one of the following:

  • xfce4-appfinder - use the following command to launch a run dialog: xfce4-appfinder --collapsed
  • bbrun - use the following command to launch a run dialog: bbrun -w
  • gmrun - use the following command to launch a run dialog: gmrun
  • fbrunAUR - use the following command to launch a run dialog: fbrun

In each case, simply map the command to Alt+F2 (or a key combination of your choice) via the 'Commands' plugin in CCSM.

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

with kwin, metacity or xfwm4 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, see the following section: #Run dialog.

Other run dialogs

See the following section: #Run dialog.


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/libGL.so.1.2 /usr/lib/mesa/libGL.so.1.2

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

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/mesa/libGL.so.1.2 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 &

(Workaround 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, run the following command to run Compiz (This 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 the following: #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 (Intel Graphics)

If you experience video tearing when using Compiz with Intel Graphics, 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 the workaround above does not fix the video tearing, see Intel graphics#Tear-free video.

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/interface.py", line 23, in <module>
    import start
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/FusionIcon/start.py", line 36, in <module>
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/FusionIcon/util.py", line 362, in check
  File "/usr/lib/python2.5/os.py", 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 you are experiencing this problem, it is likely because Compiz is getting started twice 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.

For PulseAudio users the following workaround is available:

Append the following lines

load-sample-lazy bell /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/bell.oga
load-module module-x11-bell sample=bell

to your /etc/pulse/default.pa file and then restart Pulseaudio.

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. (Works for the Xfce Whisker Menu plugin.)
  • 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' (no quotation marks) should appear at (-1, -1).

For more information, see the following upstream bug report.

Known issues

Plugins in Compiz 0.8 are not present in Compiz 0.9

Many plugins that were popular in Compiz 0.8 (such as the Animations Add-On plugin) were disabled in Compiz versions 0.9.8 and above in order to complete OpenGL ES support. 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.

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. See the following upstream bug report.

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 does not show all workspaces/window buttons present in all workspaces

See #Panels and docks.

See also