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Compiz is a compositing window manager. It provides its own window manager, so it cannot be used simultaneously with other window managers such as Openbox, Fluxbox, Enlightenment - users who want to keep their current window managers and add some effects to it may wish to try Xcompmgr instead.

Compiz is the core of the project Compiz-Fusion, which worked on adding many functions/plugins to the WM and now is being merged again. Both projects are active and undergoing constant development. For more information, refer to the article, Compiz Fusion vs. Compiz.


Basic installation can be done using the [community] repo.

Install from [community]

Make sure the [community] repository is enabled in Template:Filename.

The command

# pacman -S compiz-fusion

will install EVERYTHING, but chances are you only want compiz for either Gnome or KDE, not both, so...

Run this if you want only the gtk-based packages (for Gnome) installed:

# pacman -S compiz-fusion-gtk

Or this if you want only kde-based packages (for K Desktop Environment) installed:

# pacman -S compiz-fusion-kde 

Users who wish to select the packages individually may consult the following list:

Template:Box Note

List of packages by group

Entire compiz-fusion group (compiz-fusion)
ccsm, compiz-core, compiz-fusion-plugins-extra, compiz-fusion-plugins-main, compizconfig-backend-gconf, compizconfig-backend-kconfig, emerald, emerald-themes, fusion-icon
KDE compiz-fusion group (compiz-fusion-kde)
ccsm, compiz-fusion-plugins-extra, compiz-fusion-plugins-main, compizconfig-backend-kconfig, emerald, emerald-themes, fusion-icon
GTK (Gnome) compiz-fusion group (compiz-fusion-gtk)
ccsm, compiz-fusion-plugins-extra, compiz-fusion-plugins-main, compizconfig-backend-gconf, emerald, emerald-themes, fusion-icon
compiz-decorator-gtk, compiz-decorator-kde, compiz-manager
  • ccsm is a good first choice frontend to configure compiz.
  • Emerald is compiz's own window decorator.
  • fusion-icon offers a tray icon and a nice way to start compiz, start ccsm and change the WM / Window Decorator.
  • compiz-manager is said to bring better session managing capabilities (needs confirmation!).
  • compiz-decorator-gtk and compiz-decorator-kde are alternatives to emerald if you prefer to use your desktop environment's configuration backends and looks.


Activate important plugins!
Before you do anything else, you will want to activate a few plugins that 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. Ccsm may be used to achieve this. Simply put check marks next to those plugins to activate them.
Backend (to manage compiz display settings and effects)
CompizConfig Settings Manager (ccsm) is the GUI application that let's you turn on and off all of Compiz's plugins and configure their settings. You can simply type the command "ccsm" to launch CompizConfig Settings Manager or go to "Settings/Preferences=>CompizConfig Settings Manager".
The compiz-check script runs several compiz-related tests and can help discovering setup and hardware issues. It is available from the aur.Template:Box Note

Starting Compiz Fusion

Manually (with "fusion-icon")

Launch the Compiz Fusion tray icon:

$ fusion-icon

Note: If it fails (almost never), you may try it with dbus-launch:

$ dbus-launch "fusion-icon"

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

If this fails you can start compiz-fusion by using the following additional command to replace your default window decorator with Compiz's window decorator (Emerald):

$ emerald --replace

Again, note: If you want to use compiz window decorations make sure you have the "Window Decoration" plugin marked in the compiz settings through ccsm.

Manually (without "fusion-icon")

Launch Compiz with the following command (which replaces your current window manager):

$ compiz --replace ccp &

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 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.
Set the kde-window-decorator as an alternative to Emerald and enable features you like
Launch CompizConfig Settings Manager:
$ ccsm
Select all the plugins you like including the “Window Decoration” plugin. Add
kde-window-decorator --replace
gtk-window-decorator --replace
as the command string in the "Window Decoration" plugin's settings under the field "Command".


Autostart (with "fusion-icon")

Add a symbolic link, that points to the fusion-icon executable, in your KDE Autostart directory (generally located in Template:Filename):

$ ln -s /usr/bin/fusion-icon ~/.kde/Autostart/fusion-icon

Next time KDE is started, it will load fusion-icon automatically. Template:Box Note

Autostart (without "fusion-icon")

Method 1 - Autostart Link

Template:Box Note

  • You can ensure that Compiz Fusion will always start at login by appending a desktop entry to the KDE Autostart directory. If it doesn't already exist (it should), create the file Template:Filename with the following contents:
[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

Template:Box Note Template:Box Note

  • If you want to use the optional fusion-icon application, launch fusion-icon. If you log out normally with fusion-icon running, KDE should restore your session and launch fusion-icon the next time you log in if this setting is enabled. If it doesn't appear to be working, ensure you have the following line in Template:Filename:

Template:Box Note

Method 2 - export KDEWM (Preferred Method)

Template:Box Note

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

Template:Box Note

Ensure that Template:Filename has executable (+x) permissions.

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

Choose one of the following:

1) Compiz for your user only --> Edit the file Template:Filename and add the following line so KDE will load compiz (via the script you just created) instead of loading KWin.
2) Compiz system wide --> Edit the file Template:Filename and add the following line so KDE will load compiz (via the script you just created) instead of loading KWin.

Template:Box Note Template:Box Note Template:Box Note

Method 3 - Use KDE 4 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" (when you run fusion-icon from a terminal you can see the command line with which compiz was started). Create a file called "compiz-kde-launcher" in your /usr/bin directory. Then make the file executable: "chmod +x /usr/bin/compiz-kde-launcher". Here is an example for compiz-kde-launcher:

 compiz --replace ccp &


Autostart (without "fusion-icon") (Preferred Method)

This Method makes use of the Desktop Entry Specification to specify a Compiz Desktop Entry and of the GConf default windowmanager setting. Thanks to the Desktop Entry you should be able to select Compiz as a windowmanager out of GDM.

1) If it doesn't already exist (it should), create the file Template:Filename containing the following:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=/usr/bin/compiz ccp  #Make sure ccp is included so that Compiz loads your previous settings.
# name of loadable control center module
# autostart phase
# name we put on the WM spec check window
# back compat only

Template:Box Note

If the above doesn't work, try:

Exec=/usr/bin/compiz ccp --indirect-rendering


Exec=/usr/bin/compiz --replace --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp --indirect-rendering

Instead of

Exec=/usr/bin/compiz ccp

Some Users noticed a "lag" of 4-10 seconds when loging in from a login manager. The solution is to change the command to:

Exec=bash -c 'compiz ccp decoration --sm-client-id $DESKTOP_AUTOSTART_ID'

as noted in the forum. You can also add the extra parameters as described above if needed.

2) Set some GConf parameters using the gconftool-2 command in a terminal window or do it visually with Configuration Editor (gconf-editor). The following outlines using the command line method, but you can also see which keys to change using gconf-editor:

Template:Box Note

gconftool-2 --set -t string /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/windowmanager compiz

The following are optional and in most cases not necessary (the respective keys are deprecated since GNOME 2.12). But iny any case, if the above didn't succeed the next two statements are still valid and should be tried.

gconftool-2 --set -t string /desktop/gnome/applications/window_manager/current /usr/bin/compiz
gconftool-2 --set -t string /desktop/gnome/applications/window_manager/default /usr/bin/compiz

Autostart (without "fusion-icon", Gnome prior to 2.24)

This is a way that works if you use GDM (and I'd assume KDM too).

Make a file called /usr/local/bin/compiz-start-boot with the contents:

export WINDOW_MANAGER="compiz ccp"
exec gnome-session

and make it executable (chmod +x /usr/local/bin/compiz-start-boot). Next create the file Template:Filename containing the following:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Compiz on GNOME

Select Compiz on Gnome as your session and you're good to go.

Autostart (with "fusion-icon")

To start Compiz fusion automatically when starting a session go to System > Preferences > Startup Applications. In the Startup Programs tab, click the Add button.

You will now see the Add Startup Program dialogue. Fill it in as follows.


Compiz Fusion



Comment: (Put anything you like or leave blank.)

Template:Box Note

When you're done hit the Add button. You should now see your startup program in the list in the Startup Programs tab. It must be checked to be enabled. You can uncheck it to disable Compiz on startup and switch back to Metacity.

You may also need to use the gconftool-2 command in a terminal window to set the following parameter, otherwise fusion-icon might not load the windows decorator.

gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager false

Template:Box Note


Xfce autostart (without "fusion-icon")

This method will start Compiz directly through the XFCE session manager without loading Xfwm.

Please note the change to xml config files in XFCE newer than 4.2

To install the session manager, run this command as root:

# pacman -S xfce4-session

Now we have to configure the default/failsafe session of XFCE.

Edit the following file

# nano ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml

Or to make the change for all XFCE users (root access required)

# nano /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"/>

Template:Box Note

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, run:

rm -r ~/.cache/sessions

Xfce autostart (with "fusion-icon")

Method 1:

This will load Xfwm first then replace it with Compiz.

Open the XFCE Settings Manager & then Sessions & Startup. Click the Application Autostart tab.


  (Name:) Compiz Fusion
  (Command:) fusion-icon

Template:Box Note

Template:Box Note

Method 2:

Edit the following file (settings in this file is used in preference)

nano ~/.config/xfce4-session/xfce4-session.rc

Or to make the change for all XFCE users (root access required)

# nano /etc/xdg/xfce4-session/xfce4-session.rc

Add the following

[Failsafe Session]

Comment out Client0_Command=xfwm4 if it exists.

This will cause xfce to load Compiz instead of Xfwm when the user has no existing sessions.

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


To remove the existing sessions

rm -r ~/.cache/sessions
Method 3:

Check if this file exists:


If not do:

cp /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml

and open it for edit:

nano ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml

or make the changes for all xfce4 users (needs root access):

# nano /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml

Edit Client0_Command that it look like this:

<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
    <value type="string" value="fusion-icon"/>
    <value type="string" value="--force-compiz"/>

if --force-compiz dosen't work use compiz --replace --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp instead.

Add the SaveOnExit property if missing and set it to false:

<property name="general" type="empty">
   <property name="FailsafeSessionName" type="string" value="Failsafe"/>
   <property name="SessionName" type="string" value="Default"/>
   <property name="SaveOnExit" type="bool" value="false"/>

finally remove old xfce4 sessions:

rm -r ~/.cache/sessions

Now xfce4 will load compiz instead of Xfwm.

As a Standalone Window Manager

Configure ~/.xinitrc to launch fusion-icon.

exec ck-launch-session fusion-icon

An alternative method, utilizing a simple script entitled

# add more apps here if necessary or start another panel, tray like pypanel, bmpanel, stalonetray

If this script dosn't work for you, or you get issues with dbus utilize this script:

cd /home/<yourusername>
eval `dbus-launch --sh-syntax --exit-with-session`
/usr/bin/X :0.0 -br -audit 0 -nolisten tcp vt7 &
export DISPLAY=:0.0
sleep 1
compiz-manager decoration move resize > /tmp/compiz.log 2>&1 &
# add more apps here if necessary or start another panel, tray like pypanel, bmpanel, stalonetray

Make it executable and add it to ~/.xinitrc, like this:

exec ck-launch-session

Feel free to use a different panel, tray, or start a whole bunch of applications with your session. See this forum thread for more info.

Add a root menu

To add a root menu similar to that in Openbox, Fluxbox, Blackbox etc. you must install the package compiz-deskmenu from the AUR. 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 Control+Space.

If it still does not work, enter the Viewport Switcher menu, and change "Plugin for initiate action" to core (NOTE: for versions 0.8.2+ it's 'commands' instead of 'core'), and "Action name for initiate" to run_command0_key.

An alternative is to use mygtkmenu, also in AUR.


You must do this so your windows function like you expect them to!:

Make sure you have the plugins "Window Decorations", "Move Window", and "Resize Window" enabled. Depending on what packages you have downloaded you can choose between serveral window decorators. The most common ones are Emerald, kde-window-decorator, and gtk-window-decorator. The emerald decorator has the advantage that it fits better to compiz's screen handling and offers transparency effects. Use CompizConfig Settings Manager (ccsm) to change the default decorator: Window Decorator -> Command: "emerald --replace" or "kde4-window-decorator --replace" or "gtk-window-decorator --replace".

Using compiz-manager

In order to use compiz-manager, you need to install it from community:

pacman -S compiz-manager

Compiz-manager, that is now installed in Template:Filename, is a simple wrapper for Compiz and ALL of its options. For example, you can run


and see what the console returns for more info. You can use it in all the scripts that start Compiz. Very simple!

Using gtk-window-decorator

In order to use gtk-window-decorator, install the package compiz-decorator-gtk and select "GTK Window Decorator" instead of "Emerald" as your window decorator in fusion-icon or whatever other program you are using to configure compiz.

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.

Keyboard Shortcuts

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

  • Switch windows = Alt + Tab
  • Switch desktops on cube = Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right Arrow
  • 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 (ccsm).

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 don't 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 don't need --replace because you are not first loading xfwm and then compiz.

Additional Resources

  • AIGLX -- article
  • Xgl -- article
  • Composite -- A Xorg extension required by composite managers
  • Xcompmgr -- A simple composite manager capable of drop shadows and primitive transparency