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Revision as of 11:59, 22 January 2014 by Chazza (talk | contribs) (Starting the window decorator)
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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. The first version of Compiz was released in 2006. In 2007 Compiz was split into two projects: 'compiz-core' (the window manager) and 'compiz-fusion' (the decorator and plugins). In 2009 the two projects merged into a single unified project and the 'fusion' name was dropped. Despite this, Compiz is often still referred to as 'compiz-core' and 'compiz-fusion' in package names and in older documentation. There are currently two developement 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 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 additional packages are required.

Tip: The 0.9x branch is usable with other desktop environments such as MATE and Xfce. However due to significant changes between the two branches some popular utilities such as the Emerald decorator and fusion-icon may not be compatible with the 0.9x branch.

Installing the 0.8x branch

The window manager itself 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
  • The compiz-mate and compiz-xfce packages are not required for Compiz to function in either desktop.
  • The 0.8x branch has not been updated for some time and is unlikely to be updated in the future as all work is concentrated on the 0.9x branch.

Installing a window decorator

Unlike window managers such as mutter, Kwin or Xfwm, Compiz does not provide a window decorator so you will need to install one yourself. There are three main decorators used with 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. For those installing the 0.9x branch, gtk-window-decorator is already included in the compiz-bzrAUR package.
  • kde-window-decorator - This decorator is provided by the kdebase-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

Whist 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. In a terminal enter ccsm. In the panel, ensure that the 'Window Decoration' plugin is enabled in CCSM's 'Effects tab. Click on the 'Window Decoration' button and in the "Command" field enter the relevant command for your decorator - see below:

To set emerald as your default window decorator use:

$ emerald --replace

The emerald-theme-manager command will open a GUI for managing Emerald themes.

To set the kde-window-decorator as your default window decorator use:

$ kde4-window-decorator --replace

To set the gtk-window-decorator as your default window decorator use:

$ gtk-window-decorator --replace
  • You must activate important plugins to provide basic window manager behaviour 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 a command to start a window decorator as fusion-icon will 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.

Note: Using fusion-icon means that the native window manager will be loaded first which will then be replaced by Compiz.

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

Methods which involve starting the native window manager and then replacing it with Compiz have been indicated as such.


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
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

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 or any other window manager.

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 or any 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 on the add button and in the command section enter the compiz --replace ccp & command. The name and comment sections are unimportant and are just there to indicate what the entry does. Log out and log in again and Compiz should start.

  • This method will mean that metacity will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz.
  • You can also use this method to start fusion-icon.


Using gsettings

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

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

Compiz can replace the marco window manager in the MATE. In a terminal enter the command:

$ mate-session-properties

Click on the add button and in the command section enter the compiz --replace ccp & command. The name and comment sections are unimportant and are just there to indicate what the entry does. Log out and log in again and the Compiz should start.

  • The first method will mean that only Compiz starts with the session. The second method means that marco will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz.
  • You can also use the second method to start fusion-icon.


Modifying the failsafe session

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"/>

Then you will need to remove the existing sessions:

$ rm -r ~/.cache/sessions

Log out and log in again and Compiz should start.

Tip: When logging out after this edit ensure that the 'Save session for future logins' is unticked. Once Compiz has started you can then tick the option again.
Using Xfce Application Autostart

In the Xfce main menu navigate to 'Settings' and click on 'Session and Startup.' Click on the 'Application Autostart' tab. Click the add button and in the command section enter the compiz --replace ccp & command. The name and comment sections are unimportant and are just there to indicate what the entry does. Log out and log in again and the Compiz should start.

  • The first method will mean that only Compiz starts with the session. The second method means that xfwm4 will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz.
  • You can also use the second method to start fusion-icon.

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 you are using 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.

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

Below is a list of the default keyboard shortcuts for Compiz. The 'Commands' plugin needs to be activated in the CCSM panel.

  • 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.


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.

Screen flicks with NVIDIA card

To fix it, create the following:

options nvidia NVreg_RegistryDwords="PerfLevelSrc=0x2222"

See also