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Compiz is a compositing window manager. It can replace the native window managers in desktop environments such as MATE and Xfce. Compiz is also at the core of the Unity desktop shell - Unity is implemented as a Compiz plugin. The first version of Compiz was released in January 2006. In September 2006 several changes proposed for Compiz were rejected by the Compiz team. This led to the formation of Beryl - a fork of Compiz. In 2007 the Compiz and Beryl communities merged and 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. There are currently two branches of Compiz: the older 0.8.x branch which is written in C and the newer 0.9.x branch which 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. The packages listed in this section are known to provide a working Compiz configuration. Other Compiz packages are also available.

Installing the 0.9.x branch

Install one of the following two packages:

  • compiz-devAUR - This package provides the latest stable release of the 0.9.x branch. It includes the window manager, gtk-window-decorator, settings panel and plugins.
  • compiz-bzrAUR - This package provides the latest development version of the 0.9.x branch. It includes the window manager, gtk-window-decorator, settings panel and plugins.

Installing the 0.8.x branch

The window manager can be installed from one of the following three packages:

  • compiz-coreAUR - This package provides the window manager.
  • compiz-gtk-standaloneAUR - This package provides the window manager and the gtk-window-decorator.
  • compizAUR - This package provides the window manager, the gtk-window-decorator and the kde-window-decorator.

The following packages provide extra functionality and are highly recommended:

The following packages are optional:

The following packages provide a Compiz install that is optimised for a particular desktop environment:

  • compiz-xfceAUR - A Compiz meta package with optimal settings for the Xfce desktop.
  • compiz-mateAUR - This package provides the window manager and the gtk-window-decorator. It uses optimal settings for the MATE desktop.

Installing a window decorator

The window decorator is the program which provides windows with borders. Unlike window managers such as mutter, Kwin or Xfwm, Compiz does not include a window decorator by default so you will need to install one yourself. Depending on which packages you used to install Compiz you may have a window decorator installed already. There are three main decorators used with Compiz:

  • Emerald - For those installing the 0.8.x branch, this decorator can be installed from the emeraldAUR package in the AUR. For those installing the 0.9.x branch, this decorator can be installed from the emerald0.9AUR package or the emerald-gitAUR package (development version.) Users of any of these packages may also wish to install the emerald-themesAUR package which provides a number of extra themes. Emerald supports a number of effects and has a wide variety of themes available.
  • gtk-window-decorator - For those installing the 0.8.x branch, this decorator is provided by the compizAUR, compiz-gtk-standaloneAUR and compiz-mateAUR packages. If you are installing the compiz-coreAUR package instead, you can install the gtk-window-decorator separately from the compiz-decorator-gtk-no-gnomeAUR package. For those installing the 0.9.x branch, gtk-window-decorator is provided by the compiz-bzrAUR and compiz-devAUR packages. This decorator can use Metacity or Cairo themes.
  • kde-window-decorator - For those installing the 0.8.x branch, this decorator is provided by the compizAUR package. For those installing the 0.9.x branch, before building compiz-devAUR or compiz-bzrAUR, modify the PKGBUILD of the respective package and set KDEWINDOWDECORATOR to "on". Be aware that the kde-window-decorator requires the kdebase-workspace package which installs a significant proportion of the KDE desktop. This decorator uses Kwin themes.

Starting the window decorator

Firstly, ensure that you have a window decorator installed. Then, in a terminal enter the command: ccsm. In the settings panel, navigate to the 'Effects' section and ensure that the 'Window Decoration' plugin is ticked. Now click on the 'Window Decoration' button and in the 'Command' field enter the relevant command for your decorator - see below:

  • Emerald - to set this decorator as the default for Compiz, use the following command:
$ emerald --replace
  • gtk-window-decorator - to set this decorator as the default for Compiz, use the following command:
$ gtk-window-decorator --replace
  • kde-window-decorator - to set this decorator as the default for Compiz, use the following command:
$ kde4-window-decorator --replace
Tip: If you are using fusion-icon, there is no need to set the decoration command as fusion-icon will set this automatically.

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 (discussed in the section above)
  • 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
  • Composite

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)

With fusion-icon

Note: If fusion-icon is used, the native window manager will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz unless fusion-icon is being used to start a standalone Compiz session.

You can launch fusion-icon with the following command:

$ fusion-icon

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

Without fusion-icon

You can start Compiz using the following command:

$ 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 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

The following section provides a number methods for autostarting Compiz in various desktop environments. 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/local/bin/compiz-kde-launcher
Autostart link
Warning: Do not create compiz.desktop if you intend to install the gtk-window-decorator as 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.
Export KDEWM

As root you must create a short script. This will allow you to load Compiz with extra switches as doing it directly via $ export KDEWM="compiz --replace ccp --sm-disable" may not work.

Create the file with the necessary text by using the command below:

$ 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 the above method does not work, an alternate approach 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 & Cinnamon

GNOME Shell is implemented as a plugin of the mutter window manager. Likewise, the Cinnamon shell is implemented as a plugin of the muffin window manager. This means that it is impossible to use either GNOME Shell or Cinnamon 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 session in a display manager. Simply select the 'gnome-session-compiz' option in your display manager.

Ensure that Compiz and Cairo Dock (Taskbar/Panel) have been configured correctly.

In CCSM ensure that a window decorator is selected and the necessary plugins for window management have been enabled. See this section.

See below for recommended Cairo dock configuration:

  • 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
Note: If this method is used, Metacity will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz.

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.

Warning: Ensure that the Compiz entry is disabled when starting GNOME Shell as it could cause the shell to crash or freeze.


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
Note: If this method is used, Marco will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz.

Another approach is to start Compiz using mate-session-properties. 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 Compiz should start.


Modifying the default (Failsafe) session

To configure the default session (known as the Failsafe session) of Xfce, edit one of the following files:

  • User: ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml
  • Systemwide: /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml:
Note: 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

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"/>

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

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

Then remove the existing sessions:

$ rm -r ~/.cache/sessions

Now you will need to log out. Ensure that the 'Save session for future logins' option in the logout dialogue is unticked or the edit will not take effect. Log in again and Compiz should start. Once you are sure Compiz is running, you can tick the 'Save session for future logins' option again.

Using Xfce application autostart
Note: If this method is used, Xfwm will start first and will then be replaced by Compiz.

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 Compiz should start.

When using this method, it is possible that Compiz will be started twice at login. This is because Xfce saves its sessions at logout. Compiz will be started by the restored session and then it will be started again by the autostart entry. There are two possible solutions to this problem:

  • Disable saved sessions. This will mean that the default (Failsafe) session is run each time. Compiz will always be started by the autostart entry. To disable saved sessions, open the 'Session and Startup' menu entry, click on the 'Session' tab and click the 'Clear saved sessions' button. Then, untick the 'Save session for future logins' option in the Xfce logout dialog.
  • Disable the Compiz autostart entry. This will mean that Compiz is always started as a result of the previous session being restored. Just untick the Compiz autostart entry you created in Application Autostart.


Please consult this section of the LXDE article

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
Exec=compiz ccp

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. See the xprofile wiki article for more details.

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 ccp

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 ccp

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 you can install the compiz-boxmenuAUR package. This program is a fork of compiz-deskmenuAUR. Among the changes that the fork introduces are the addition of some extra features such as a window list and a recent documents list.

After installing the compiz-boxmenuAUR package, 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.

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

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 the above section.) For more detailed information on shutting down see this article.


Panels & docks

There are a number of panels and docks available in Arch - see this article - however only a few are compatible with Compiz's viewports:

Run dialog

Note: GNOME Panel or MATE Panel 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

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


For information on Compiz configuration - including backends, profiles, window decoration themes, workspaces/viewports, plugins and more - please consult the Compiz Configuration article.

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.

Centered window placement for all windows in Compiz 0.9.x

In the 0.9.x version of ccsm, the 'Centered' option for the 'Place Windows' plugin no longer exists in the 'Placement Mode' menu. However, the option for centered window placement still exists in the 'Fixed Window Placement' tab and it is possible to apply this setting to all windows, effectively overriding the 'Placement Mode' setting. To ensure that all windows are started in the center of the screen, navigate to the 'Fixed Window Placement' tab of the 'Place Windows' plugin. Under the 'Windows with fixed placement mode' section click on the 'New' button. A dialog box should appear. In the 'Windows' field enter type=Normal. From the 'Mode' menu, select the 'Centered' option.

Tip: If you only want to ensure that a particular window starts centered, then enter title=window title where 'window title' is the title of the window. If you have xorg-xprop installed then window properties can be filled automatically using the 'Grab' button.

Enabling the Alt+F2 run dialog in MATE

If you are using Compiz in MATE follow the instructions below to restore the Alt+F2 run dialog.

Start ccsm. Ensure that the 'Commands' plugin is ticked. Click on the 'Commands' button and enter the following command in a free command line box e.g. 'Command line 0'

mate-panel --run-dialog

Then click on the 'Key Bindings' tab. Click on the button labelled 'Disabled' for the appropriate command line box e.g. if you entered the command in 'Command line 0' click the 'Disabled' box next to 'Run command 0.' In the box that appears tick the 'Enabled' option. Then click the 'Grab key combination' button and hit Alt+F2. Click 'Ok.'

Tip: If the Alt+F2 run dialog window is always launched out of focus then start ccsm, click on 'General Options' and click on the 'Focus & Raise Behaviour' tab. Change the 'Focus Prevention Level' setting to 'Off.'


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 ccp &

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 ccp &

(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 ccp &

Compiz starts without window borders with NVIDIA binary drivers

Firstly ensure that you have configured the settings discussed here correctly. 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 using the 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"

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 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/
Tip: If ~/.config/compiz/ does not exist, the directory in question may be ~/.config/compiz-1/ instead.

All windows start maximised

This behaviour appears to be a bug affecting the 'Pointer' window placement mode in the 'Place Windows' plugin. Changing the placement mode should resolve this issue. To do so, open ccsm, click on the 'Place Windows' plugin and set the 'Placement Mode' to another setting such as 'Smart.'

Alt+F4 keybinding not working (Xfce)

If you are using Compiz in Xfce and you are experiencing behaviour where the Alt+F4 keybinding does not close windows, this is probably because Compiz is getting started twice at login. Please implement one of the solutions discussed in this section.

Mouse scroll wheel not working in GTK+ 3 applications

You may find that the scroll wheel on your mouse allows you to scroll in GTK+ 2 applications but not in GTK+ 3 applications. This is probably because you have enabled the 'Viewport Switcher' plugin in ccsm. Enabling this plugin creates a conflict between the 'Viewport Switcher' bindings and scrolling in GTK+ 3 applications. To fix the issue, open ccsm, navigate to the 'Viewport Switcher' plugin and click on the 'Desktop-based Viewport Switching' tab. Map the 'Move Next' and 'Move Prev' options to a different binding or disable them altogether.

Emerald refuses to start (crashes with a segfault)

You may find that Emerald fails to start with your Compiz session and attempting to start it from a terminal gives you the following output (or something similar):

Segmentation fault (core dumped)

In this case, the solution is to reset the Emerald theme settings:

$ rm -rf ~/.emerald/theme

Emerald should now start successfully.

Changing the Metacity theme has no effect on gtk-window-decorator

If changing the Metacity theme has no effect, this is probably because the decorator is using a Cairo theme instead. To make the gtk-window-decorator use Metacity themes, you need to first find out whether gtk-window-decorator is using GConf or GSettings to store its settings.

  • If gtk-window-decorator is using GConf, the apps/gwd/ schema should be installed.
  • If gtk-window-decorator is using GSettings, the org.compiz.gwd schema should be installed.

Once you have ascertained which backend gtk-window-decorator is using, you just need to set the appropriate key.

  • If using GConf, apps/gwd/use_metacity_theme needs to be set to TRUE.
  • If using GSettings, org.compiz.gwd use-metacity-theme needs to be set to true.

See also