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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 community as repo (see below).

The second way is using nesl's git packages. See Compiz_Fusion_Git for more information.

Install from Community

Make sure the Community repository is enabled and run this command as root to install everything:

# pacman -S compiz-fusion

Run this if you only want gtk-based packages installed:

# pacman -S compiz-fusion-gtk

or this if you only want kde-based packages installed:

# pacman -S compiz-fusion-kde 

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

List of packages by group

Entire compiz-fusion group
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
ccsm, compiz-fusion-plugins-extra, compiz-fusion-plugins-main, compizconfig-backend-kconfig, emerald, emerald-themes, fusion-icon
GTK compiz-fusion group
ccsm, compiz-fusion-plugins-extra, compiz-fusion-plugins-main, compizconfig-backend-gconf, emerald, emerald-themes, fusion-icon
groupless / legacy (?)
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 using your DE's configuration backends and looks (needs confirmation too).

Check Settings

The compiz-check script runs several compiz-related tests and can help discovering setup and hardware issues. It is available from the aur.
Depending on the packages you installed, you can use different backends to manage your compiz settings. While gconf / kconf should be fine for Gnome / KDE, the basic Flat-file Configuration Backed should be your choice if want to try out compiz in different Environments without losing the settings in between or you simply use a different Desktop Environment. You can change the used Backend with ccsm ("Settings=>").
Activate important plugins!
Before you do anything else, you might want to check if the plugins that provide basic window manager behaviour are activated or you will have no possibility to drag, scale or close 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.)

Starting Compiz Fusion

Manual (with "fusion-icon")

Launch the Compiz Fusion tray icon:

$ fusion-icon

Note: If it fails, 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 commands

$ fusion-icon
$ emerald --replace
$ compiz-manager

If you want to use compiz window decorations make sure you have the "Window Decoration" plugin marked in the compiz settings.


Manual (without "fusion-icon")

Launch Compiz with the following command once installation is done :

$ compiz --replace ccp &

Start new settings manager:

$ ccsm &

Select all the plugins you like including “decoration” plugin, Add

$ kde-window-decorator --replace

as command string under ‘decoration’ plugin.

Autostart (with "fusion-icon")

Add a symbolic link to the fusion-icon executable in your KDE Autostart directory (generally located on ~/.kde/Autostart):

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

Next time KDE is started, it will load fusion-icon automatically.

Autostart (without "fusion-icon")

Method 1 - Autostart Link
  • You can ensure that Compiz Fusion will always start at login by appending a desktop entry to the KDE autostart directory. Create the file ~/.kde/Autostart/compiz.desktop with the following contents:
[Desktop Entry]
Exec=compiz --replace ccp
  • 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 ~/.kde/share/config/ksmserverrc:
Method 2 - export KDEWM (avoid KWIN)

Using this method will load Compiz-Fusion as the default window manager instead of KWin from the start. This method is faster than loading Compiz-Fusion in the ~/.kde4/Autostart/ (method 1) because it avoids loading KDE's default WM (KWin) first. This way also stops that annoying black screen flicker you might see using other methods (when kwin switches to Compiz on KDE's desktop loading screens).

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

If this doesn't work, install the "fusion-icon" package and then use this line instead:

$ echo "fusion-icon &" > /usr/bin/compiz-fusion

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

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

Edit your ~/.bashrc and add the following so KDE will load compiz (via the script you just created) instead of loading KWin.

$ export KDEWM="compiz-fusion"

Note: If you use /usr/local/bin directory it may not work. In that case you should export the script with the path, i.e. export KDEWM="/usr/local/bin/compiz-fusion".

Note: The elegant way for above mentioned method is to include:


line in the ~/.kde4/env/ or /usr/env/ (system wide).

Method 3 - Use KDE 4.2 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 --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp --indirect-rendering &

Make sure you have the plugin "Window Decorations" enabled. Depending on what packages you have have downloaded you can choose between serveral window decorators. The recommended ones for KDE are emerald and kde4-window-decorator. The emerald decorator has the advantage that it fits better to compiz's screen handling. Use "CompizConfig Settings Manager" to change the default decorator: Window Decorator -> Command: emerald --replace or kde4-window-decorator --replace.

If you have no window decorations try to add the following line to your "compiz-kde-launcher"-file:

 sleep 1
 kde4-window-decorator --replace&
 # or if you want to use emerald
 # emerald --replace&


Autostart (without "fusion-icon")

1) Create /usr/share/applications/compiz.desktop containing the following:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=/usr/bin/compiz ccp
# name of loadable control center module
# autostart phase
# name we put on the WM spec check window
# back compat only

Template:Box Note

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

2) Set some GConf parameters using the gconftool-2 command in a terminal window.

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 executable (chmod +x). Next create the file /etc/X11/sessions/Compiz.desktop 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.)

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


Xfce autostart (without "fusion-icon")

Starting Compiz with the XFCE session manager. This will start Compiz directly 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"/>

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
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

As a standalone WM

A simple method, utilizing a simple script entitled

# 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:


Feel free to use a different panel, tray, or start a whole bunch on applications with your session. See 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.


Using compiz-manager

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

pacman -S compiz-manager

Compiz-manager, that now is installed in /usr/bin/compiz-manager, is a simple wrapper for compiz and ALL its options. For example, you can run


and see that console returns. 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 on compiz-decorator-gtk. So, you need to install it if you want to use gconf-editor to edit compiz configuration. Compiz config is in apps > compiz > general > allscreens > options

Active plugins is where you specify the plugins you would like to use, simply edit the key and add in value(refer to apps > compiz > plugins). Plugins I’ve found useful are screenshot, png, fade, 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