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Revision as of 16:33, 20 January 2014 by Chazza (talk | contribs) (changed intro to give more information. made clear distinction between 0.8x and 0.9x branches. added list of packages. they all compile and work I have tried them myself. organised the starting section into with and without fusion icon.)
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Compiz is a compositing window manager. It can replace the native window managers in desktop environments such as MATE and KDE. There are currently two branches of Compiz: the older 0.8x branch, which was often seen used in GNOME 2, and the 0.9x branch which is primarily used in the Unity desktop shell. The 0.8x branch is written in C whilst the 0.9x branch is written in C++.


As of May 2013 Compiz is no longer available in the Official repositories. There are a number of the packages in the AUR which can provide a full Compiz experience.

Installing the 0.9x branch

The 0.9x branch can be installed from the compiz-bzrAUR package. This package provides the decorator, plugins and settings panel so no other packages have to be installed.

Note: The changes between the 0.9x and 0.8x branches are considerable. Commonly used utilities of the 0.8x branch such as Emerald and fusion-icon may not work with the 0.9x branch.

Installing the 0.8x branch

The core window manager can be installed from the compiz-coreAUR package.

The following packages are not essential but are highly recommended:

The following packages are optional:

  • compiz-fusion-plugins-unsupportedAUR - unsupported plugins for Compiz
  • fusion-iconAUR - a tray applet that starts compiz and can load different window managers and decorators during a session
  • compiz-mateAUR - a plugin for greater integration with the MATE desktop
  • compiz-xfceAUR - a plugin for greater integration with the Xfce desktop

Installing a window decorator

If you are installing the 0.8x branch or you are installing the 0.9x branch from a different package you will need to install a window decorator as Compiz does not provide one itself. There are three main decorators for Compiz:

  • Emerald - This decorator can be installed from the emeraldAUR package in the AUR. It has a number of themes available and supports various effects. You may also wish to install the emerald-themesAUR package which contains a number of extra themes for emerald.
  • gtk-window-decorator - Also known as compiz-decorator-gtk, this decorator can be installed from the compiz-decorator-gtk-no-gnomeAUR package in the AUR. This decorator is already included in the compiz-bzrAUR package if you are installing the 0.9x branch.
  • kde-window-decorator - This decorator is provided by the kde-workspace package. This package will pull in a number of KDE dependencies and therefore may not be the best solution in non KDE environments.

Starting the window decorator

While the appearance of the windows and their contents is a function of GTK+ and Qt, the frames around the windows are controlled by the Window Decoration plugin. To use it make sure you have a window decorator installed - see above. Ensure that the "Window decorator" plugin is enabled in CCSM's "effects" tab, the "command" field is filled in to start a decorator.

To set emerald as your default window decorator type:

$ emerald --replace

To set the kde-window-decorator as an alternative to Emerald type:

$ kde4-window-decorator --replace

To set the compiz-decorator-gtk as an alternative to Emerald type:

$ gtk-window-decorator --replace
  • You must activate important plugins: to provide basic window manager behavior or else you will have no ability to drag, scale or close any windows as soon as Compiz is activated. Among those plugins are "Window Decoration" under "Effects" and "Move Window" & "Resize Window" under "Window Management". These can be enabled with ccsm.
  • If you are using fusion-icon there is no need to use any commands as fusion-icon start the decorator by itself.

Starting Compiz

With fusion-icon

You can launch fusion-icon with the following command:

$ fusion-icon

To enable fusion-icon on startup you need to autostart it. Refer to the Autostarting article and your desktop environment's article for further instruction.

Right click on the icon in the panel and go to 'select window manager'. Choose "Compiz" if it isn't selected already.

Without fusion-icon

You can start Compiz using the following command:

$ compiz --replace ccp &

See below for desktop environment specific instructions on how to start Compiz automatically without fusion-icon.

A quick overview over common Compiz command-line options:

  • --indirect-rendering: use indirect-rendering (AIGLX)
  • --loose-binding: can help performance issues (NVIDIA?)
  • --replace: replace current window-manager
  • --keep-window-hints: keep the gnome window manager gconf-settings for available viewports
  • --sm-disable: disable session-management
  • ccp: the "ccp" command loads the last configured settings from CCSM (CompizConfig Settings Manager) otherwise Compiz will load with no settings and you won't be able to do anything with your windows like dragging, maximizing/minimizing, or moving.

Starting Compiz automatically without fusion-icon


Use System Settings

Go to: System Settings > Default Applications > Window Manager > Use a different window manager

If you need to run Compiz with custom options select "Compiz custom", then create the following script:

compiz --replace ccp &

Then make it executable:

$ chmod +x /usr/bin/compiz-kde-launcher

When running fusion-icon from a terminal you can see the command line with which Compiz was started.

Autostart link
Warning: Do not create compiz.desktop if you intend to install gtk-window-decorator it will create a file conflict.

Append a desktop entry in the KDE Autostart directory. If it doesn't exist already (it should), create it:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=/usr/bin/compiz ccp --replace
# name of loadable control center module
# autostart phase
# name we put on the WM spec check window
# back compat only
Note: If compiz.desktop already exists, you may have to add --replace and/or ccp to the Exec variable. Without --replace, Compiz won't load since it will detect another window manager already loaded. Without ccp, Compiz will not load any of the settings and plugins that you have enabled through CompizConfig Settings Manager (ccsm) and you won't be able to manipulate any of your windows.
Export KDEWM

As root you must create a short script by doing the following in your terminal. This will allow you to load Compiz with the switches because doing it directly via $ export KDEWM="compiz --replace ccp --sm-disable" doesn't seem to work:

$ echo "compiz --replace ccp --sm-disable &" > /usr/bin/compiz-fusion
Note: If this line doesn't work, make sure the fusion-iconAUR package is installed and then use this line instead:
$ echo "fusion-icon &" > /usr/bin/compiz-fusion
Be sure to complete the whole method before trying this substitute.

Ensure that /usr/bin/compiz-fusion has executable (+x) permissions.

$ chmod +x /usr/bin/compiz-fusion

Choose one of the following:

1) For your user only:


2) System-wide:

  • If that still doesn't work, yet another alternate way to accomplish the above method is to include the line:
$ export KDEWM="compiz-fusion"

in your user's ~/.bashrc file.

  • If you optionally use the /usr/local/bin directory it may not work. In that case you should export the script including the whole path:
$ export KDEWM="/usr/local/bin/compiz-fusion"



GNOME Shell is set up as a plugin of the mutter window manager. This means that it is impossible to use GNOME Shell with Compiz.

Alternate Session for GNOME (Cairo dock and Compiz)

The gnome-session-compizAUR package can be used to add an additional menu entry in a display manager. This method does not require the presence of the GNOME Flashback session mode or modifications to sensitive system files/settings.

For this method to work, Compiz and Cairo Dock (Taskbar/Panel) may have to be configured initially for fresh accounts, from another working session (CCSM in GNOME Shell should work fine).

This method completely replaces the GNOME's window manager and panel (they are not launched at all, rather than being replaced or killed later). So, before actually switching to this alternate session, you may want to configure corresponding/alternate features of the original panel application in Cairo Dock:

  • Add Application Menu icon to Cairo Dock and remember its key-bindings.
  • Remap Application Menu key-bindings to ALT+F1 and ALT+F2, for convenience.
  • Add Clock, WiFi, NetSpeed icons to the dock as applicable.
  • Add Log-out icon:
    • Set the command for logout to gnome-session-quit --logout
    • Set the command for shutdown to gnome-session-quit --power-off
  • Add the Notification Area Old (systray) icon to Cairo Dock.
GNOME Flashback

Compiz can replace the metacity window manager in the GNOME Flashback session. In a terminal enter the command:

$ gnome-session-properties

Click in the add button and in the command section enter the compiz --replace ccp & command in the command section. The name and comment sections are unimportant. Log out and log in again and the Compiz should start. The fusion-icon tool will also work in GNOME Flashback.


Use the following gsettings command to change the default window manager from marco to Compiz.

$ gsettings set org.mate.session.required-components windowmanager compiz


To start Compiz in Xfce automatically without the fusion-icon the failsafe session needs to be modified

To configure the default/failsafe session of Xfce, edit the ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml or (to make the change for all Xfce users) /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml:

Replace the xfwm startup command,

 <property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
   <value type="string" value="xfwm4"/>

with the following:

 <property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
   <value type="string" value="compiz"/>
   <value type="string" value="ccp"/>
  • The ccp value will tell Compiz to load your previous Compiz settings as configured with CompizConfig Settings Manager (ccsm).
  • If the xfce4-session.xml file does not exist in ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml then you will need to edit the file in /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml

To prevent the default session from being overwritten you may also add this:

 <property name="general" type="empty">
   <property name="SaveOnExit" type="bool" value="false"/>

To remove the existing sessions:

$ rm -r ~/.cache/sessions

Using Compiz as a standalone window manager

To start Compix configure .xinitrc to launch Compiz as:

exec compiz ccp

You can also use fusion icon as shown below:

exec fusion-icon

However chances are you will need additional apps (e.g a panel) for optimal usability:

tint2 &
cairo-dock &
exec fusion-icon
Note: Add a terminal-emulator to this autostart list while starting for the first time to help configure Compiz.

Add a root menu

To add a root menu similar to that in Openbox, Fluxbox, Blackbox etc. you must install the package compiz-deskmenuAUR. Upon a restart of Compiz Fusion, you should be able to middle click on your desktop to launch the menu.

If it does not automatically work, enter the CompizConfig Settings Manager, and in Commands tab, within the General Settings menu, ensure that there is a command to launch Compiz-Deskmenu, and the appropriate key binding is set to Ctrl+Space.

If it still does not work, enter the Viewport Switcher menu, and change "Plugin for initiate action" to 'commands', and "Action name for initiate" to run_command0_key.

An alternative is to use mygtkmenuAUR, also in AUR.

Allow users to shutdown/reboot

Refer to this wiki page. If using "The Modern way" of policykit you can add the command to CCSM > General > Commands and assign a short-cut key to it or alternatively you can use a launcher application.


gconf: additional Compiz configurations

To achieve more satisfying results from Compiz, you can tweak its config with gconf-editor:

$ gconf-editor

Note that now compiz-core isn't built with gconf support; It is now built with gconf support through compiz-decorator-gtk. So, you need to install it if you want to use gconf-editor to edit your Compiz configuration. The Compiz gconf configuration is located in in the key apps > compiz > general > allscreens > options.

"Active plugins" is where you specify the plugins you would like to use. Simply edit the key and add a value(refer to the key apps > compiz > plugins to see possible values). Plugins I’ve found useful are screenshot, png, fade, and minimize. Please do not remove those enabled by default.

ATI R600/R700 notes

While using Fusion Icon you shouldn't experience any problems because it takes care of everything for you, but if you are using one of the autostart methods that do not involve Fusion Icon you will run into trouble. For example when using the Xfce autostart method without fusion icon you must edit ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml per the instructions above. However, if you follow the directions above explicity you will find that Compiz does not load. You must instead make your xfce4-session.xml file look like this

<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
 <value type="string" value="LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1"/>
 <value type="string" value="compiz"/>
 <value type="string" value="--sm-disable"/>
 <value type="string" value="--ignore-desktop-hints"/>
 <value type="string" value="ccp"/>
 <value type="string" value="--indirect-rendering"/>

This example targeted Xfce specifically, but it can be adapted to any desktop environment. It's just a matter of figuring out how to add it to the proper config file. The key thing is the required command which if typed on a command line would look like this

LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 compiz --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp --indirect-rendering

This is how Xfce's session manager interprets the above XML code. Notice that you do not need --replace because you are not first loading Xfwm and then Compiz.

Tips and tricks


If you are using KDE, GNOME or Xfce and something is not right, for example you don’t see borders for your window, you can switch back to default DE window manager with this command:

wm_name --replace

with kwin, metacity or xfwm4 instead of wm_name.

Keyboard shortcuts

Default plugin keyboard shortcuts (plugins have to be activated!)

  • Switch windows = Alt+Tab.
  • Switch to next desktops = Ctrl+Alt+←.
  • Switch to previous desktop = Ctrl+Alt+→.
  • Move window = Alt+Left click.
  • Resize window = Alt+Right click.

A more detailed list can be found under CommonKeyboardShortcuts in the Compiz wiki or you can always just look at your plugin's configuration.


Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: - (Discuss in Talk:Compiz#)

Missing GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmaps

On ATI cards (first solution) If you run into the following error when trying to run Compiz Fusion on an ATI card:

Missing GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap

This is because Compiz Fusion's binary was compiled against Mesa's OpenGL library rather than ATI's OpenGL library (which is what you are using).

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

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

Once you have it copied, you can reinstall your fglrx drivers. Now you can start Compiz Fusion using the following example syntax:

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

On ATI cards (second solution)

An other problem could arise with GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap, it is possible that the card could only render it indirectly, then you have to pass the option to your libgl like that:

LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 compiz --replace ccp &

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

On Intel chips

First off, check that you're using the intel driver as opposed to i810. Then, run the following command to run Compiz (must use this every time.).

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

If you then do not have borders, run:

emerald --replace

As at 17-Oct-07 the Compiz-Fusion Wiki states: "If you are using an Intel GMA card with AIGLX, you will need to start Compiz Fusion with LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 appended."

Compiz starts, but no effects are visible

If you have installed compiz-decorator-gtk: Check if GConf schema was correctly installed:

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

make sure that all plugins are listed (not only fade!). If not, try to install Compiz schema manually (do this as normal user, not as root!!!):

$ gconftool-2 --install-schema-file=/usr/share/gconf/schemas/compiz-decorator-gtk.schemas
Note: Compiz basic plugins are not enabled by default. You should enable "Move Window", "Resize Window", and "Window decoration" plugins in settings manager from Fusion Icon to have a usable window manager.

Compiz starts, but gtk-window-decorator does not

It is a configuration problem for gconf and gconfd. You may try removing ~/.gconf/. This will erase your Compiz settings, so be sure to reconfigure. Finally as user:

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

Compiz appears to start, but there are no window borders

When running Fusion Icon from terminal, you get output like this:

$ fusion-icon
* Detected Session: gnome
* Searching for installed applications...
* NVIDIA on Xorg detected, exporting: __GL_YIELD=NOTHING
* Using the GTK Interface
* Metacity is already running
* Setting window manager to Compiz
... executing: compiz --replace --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp
compiz (core) - Warn: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
compiz (core) - Warn: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
compiz (core) - Warn: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
compiz (core) - Warn: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
compiz (core) - Warn: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
compiz (core) - Warn: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32

You may also try adding Option "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True" and Option "DisableGLXRootClipping" "True" to your "Screen" section, if you are using the NVIDIA binary driver. If you used any other Options elsewhere in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ to get Compiz working and still have no luck, try commenting them out and using only the aformentioned ARGBGLXVisuals and GLXRootClipping Options.

Note: Check that "Window decoration", "Move" and "Resize" plugins are enabled with Compiz Settings Manager or gconf-editor.

With  gconf-editor you can easly enable "Window decoration", "Move" and "Resize" plugins.

$ gconf-editor

Navigate to apps > compiz > general > allscreens > options.

Add/Edit "active_plugins" Key (Name: active_plugins, Type: List, List type: String).

Add "decoration", "move", and "resize" to the list.

Another way to fix this:

  • Launch ccsm.
  • Find Window Decoration and make sure it is enabled.
  • Now click on it, to edit the options.
  • If the entry behind command is empty, use gtk-window-decorator or kde-window-decorator or emerald.
  • Close CCSM and the borders should now appear.

Compiz starts and borders appear, but windows won't move

Be sure you have the "Move Window" plugin installed and enabled in the CompizConfig Settings Manager.

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

If you receive a blank screen with a responsive cursor upon resume, try disabling sync to vblank:

$ gconftool -s /apps/compiz/general/screen0/options/sync_to_vblank-t boolean false

Fusion Icon doesn't 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/

Choppy animations, even though everything configured correctly

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

Alternatively, if your chip is NVIDIA and you are experiencing an inadequate refresh rate with "Detect Refresh Rate" enabled in Compiz, it's likely 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/*.conf, and then restarting your computer:

Option "DynamicTwinView" "False"

Doing so will allow XrandR to accurately report the refresh rate to anything that detects it, including Compiz. You should be able to leave "Detect Refresh Rate" enabled and get excellent performance. Once again, this only applies to NVIDIA chips.

Fix GNOME screenshot

To re-enable gnome-screenshot (the default behavior caused by hitting PrtScn) simply go to Settings Manager>Commands and map 'gnome-screenshot' to the 'PrtScn' key. This is advantageous because you can also use the Compiz Fusion 'Screenshot' plugin at the same time since the action that enables it is Super+Button1 thereby giving you two methods to do a screen capture (one of which gives a full screen capture in a single keystroke).

Get GNOME workspace switcher work with Compiz Fusion

In older versions of Compiz, the Gnome Workspace Switcher applet would actually work with Compiz Fusion (i.e. rotate cube/move plane etc.), but recent versions seem not to. This is due to a new feature introduced in Compiz, which allows real seperate workspaces. For example, if you have a desktop plane with four planes, and have four desktops enabled in Gnome, it sums up to a total of 16 different workspaces. Currently, there is no animation associated with "real" workspace changing. To get the Workspace Switcher work, set the following options in GConf:

/apps/compiz/general/screen0/options/number_of_desktops = 1
/apps/compiz/general/screen0/options/hsize = 4 (this is an example)
/apps/compiz/general/screen0/options/vsize = 1 (this is an example)

Screen flicks with NVIDIA card

To fix it, create the following:

options nvidia NVreg_RegistryDwords="PerfLevelSrc=0x2222"

Setting the window manager back to Metacity after uninstall

Removing Compiz with pacman does not set your window manager back to metacity. This can result in no window borders being drawn, an inability to minimize, and an inability to change the focus. To change it back, run gconf-editor. Use this to set the value of the key /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/window_manager from "compiz" to "metacity". Log out and back in for changes to take effect.

See also