This article details more advanced Compiz configuration. It is assumed that you have successfully installed Compiz and have a basic, working configuration. For information on installation, basic configuration and troubleshooting, please consult the Compiz article.
- 1 Settings storage options
- 2 Window decoration themes
- 3 Workspaces and Viewports
- 4 Keyboard shortcuts
- 5 Plugins
- 6 Flat-file sample configurations
- 7 See also
Settings storage options
By default, Compiz stores its configuration settings in a plain text file
ccsm this is known as 'Flat-file Configuration Backend.'
Compiz can also store its settings in the GSettings or GConf databases. To change how Compiz saves its settings open
ccsm and click on the 'Preferences' tab in the left hand column. Then choose your desired backend from the list under 'Backend.'
You can also change the backend manually by editing the
Edit the line below:
backend = ini
- ini = Flat File Configuration Backend
- gsettings = GSettings Configuration Backend
- gconf = GConf Configuration Backend
Once you have edited and saved the file the change will take place immediately. There is no need to log out.
Profiles allow you to switch between different sets of Compiz settings easily. To create a new profile open
ccsm and click on the 'Preferences' tab. Under 'Profile' click the plus sign to add a new profile or the minus sign to delete one. All changes made in
ccsm will be written to your current profile.
Profiles are specific to the backend you are using. For instance, if you are using the GSettings backend then any new profile you create will be a GSettings profile. If you switch to a different backend then your current profile will not work and you will automatically switch to a profile available for that backend.
Window decoration themes
Many Emerald themes are available for download here. Emerald themes can be installed and managed using the
emerald-theme-manager program. For downloaded themes, unzip the tarball and then install it using the 'Import' option in the theme manager.
Emerald themes are store in two locations:
The currently selected Emerald theme is copied into the
Emerald settings such as window button pulse can be configured in
emerald-theme-manager and are written to the
Many Metacity themes are available for download here. Once downloaded, they should be unpacked into the user's
~/.themes directory (create it if it doesn't exist.) You could also place themes in
/usr/share/themes if you wish. To select a theme, open
dconf-editor and expand org --> gnome --> desktop --> wm and click on 'preferences.' Change the value of the key 'Theme' to the name of the theme you wish to use. By default, gtk-window-decorator uses the Adwaita metacity theme which is provided by the package.
If changing the Metacity theme has no effect, see this section of the Compiz article.
Kwin themes can be downloaded, installed and managed using the KDE
Workspaces and Viewports
Unlike many other window managers, Compiz does not use multiple workspaces by default. Instead, it uses one workspace but splits it into multiple sections known as viewports.
If you would like to use standard workspaces, open
ccsm and navigate to 'General Options' --> 'Desktop Size.' Set the 'Horizontal Virtual Size' and 'Vertical Virtual Size' to 1. Change the 'Number of Desktops' from 1 to your desired number of workspaces.
Plugins such as 'Desktop Cube' and 'Desktop Wall' are incompatible with standard workspaces. They must use Compiz's viewports. For the 'Desktop Cube' plugin to work properly, the 'Vertical Virtual Size' and 'Number of Desktops' must be set to 1. The 'Horizontal Virtual Size' should be set to 4 if you want a cube shape. Setting the 'Horizontal Virtual Size' to another value will result in a different shape being created. Set the value to 2 if you want a desktop plane.
Below is a list of the default keyboard shortcuts for Compiz.
- Switch windows =
- Switch to next desktops =
- Switch to previous desktop =
- Move window =
- Resize window =
A more detailed list can be found under CommonKeyboardShortcuts in the Compiz wiki or you can always just look at your plugin's configuration.
Extra shortcuts can be added using the commands plugin in
Besides mouse and key bindings, Compiz can also assign commands to certain actions involving the screen edges e.g. dragging a window to the screen edge. For instance: the 'Rotate Cube' plugin has an option to switch to the next viewport if a window is dragged to the screen edge. Edge bindings can usually be disabled, through
ccsm, by unticking 'Edge Flip' options in the plugin's settings section or by disabling actions which have the screen icon next to them in the 'Bindings' section of the relevant plugin.
Almost all Compiz functionality is implemented using plugins. Some plugins must be enabled for standard window manager functionality. Please see this section of the Compiz article for more details. Plugins that provide extra functionality, above and beyond standard window management, are discussed here.
If you want to compare two windows side by side by dragging them to the edges of the screen, similar to the 'Aero Snap' feature introduced in Windows 7, enable the 'Grid' plugin in
ccsm. If you are using the 'Desktop Wall' or 'Rotate Cube' plugin then disable the 'Edge Flip' options in that plugin's section to ensure that windows do not move to the next desktop when dragged to the screen edge.
The 'Scale' plugin provides an option to view scaled thumbnails of all windows in the current viewport, similar to the 'Present Windows' feature in KDE or the 'Overview Mode' in GNOME Shell. Firstly, enable the plugin in
ccsm. Then, to access the view, move the mouse cursor into the top right corner. The hotcorner position can be configured in the 'Bindings' tab of the plugin's settings section.
The 'Widget Layer' plugin allows you to define certain windows as widgets. Widget windows are shown on a separate 'layer' of the screen. When the widget layer is hidden, all windows defined as widget windows will be iconified. By default, the widget layer is shown and hidden using
To define a window as a widget, open
ccsm and navigate to the 'Widget Layer' plugin. Click on the 'Behaviour' tab and click on the plus sign button next to the 'Widget Windows' field. In the dialog box that appears, choose 'Window Title' from the 'Type' menu. In the 'Value' field enter the title for the window you wish to define as a widget e.g.
There are two Compiz plugins that can provide magnification functionality. The first is 'Magnifier' which acts much like a magnifying glass (everything within the rectangular box will be zoomed.) The magnifier can be used by enabling the plugin in
ccsm and pressing
The other plugin is called 'Enhanced Desktop Zoom.' When this plugin is enabled, pressing the
Super key and scrolling the middle mouse button will magnify the part of the desktop that is under the mouse cursor.
It is a good idea to enable the 'Crash handler' plugin in
ccsm. This plugin ensures that if, for whatever reason, Compiz fails to start with the session or crashes at some point during the session, crash logs will be dumped and an alternative window manager will be started. To specify a window manager that can replace Compiz in the event of a crash, click on the 'Crash handler' plugin and tick the 'Start Other Window Manager' option. Then, in the 'Window Manager Command Line' field, enter a command to start the window manager of choice; see this section of the Compiz article.
Flat-file sample configurations
The following examples are posted
Compiz 0.9.11 example with Cube, Grid and other plugins enabled (annotated)
[core] s0_focus_prevention_level = 0 ## this disables focus prevention s0_active_plugins = core;composite;crashhandler;opengl;decor;move;imgsvg;place;text;imgpng;imgjpeg;compiztoolbox;grid;regex;resize;wobbly;animation;workspacenames;cube;rotate;switcher; ## a list of all the enabled plugins [rotate] ## change cube rotation settings s0_speed = 1.850000 ## cube rotation slowed down so there is no 'bounce' when switching viewports s0_edge_flip_dnd = false ## stops the cube from rotating when a window is dragged to the screen edge (set this if using grid) s0_edge_flip_window = false ## same as above [cube] s0_top_color = #a2a2a2ff s0_bottom_color = #a2a2a2ff s0_skydome_gradient_start_color = #f3f2ceff s0_skydome_gradient_end_color = #87879eff s0_skydome = true ## if skydome is set to false, the cube will be surrounded by blackness. set to true if you want a colour gradient or a picture behind your cube [decor] s0_command = emerald --replace ## this starts emerald with compiz. [crashhandler] s0_start_wm = true ## if crash handler plugin is enabled, this option ensures that another window manager will be loaded if Compiz crashes s0_wm_cmd = xfwm4 --replace ## this option defines the window manager that will replace Compiz in the event of a crash. I've chosen xfwm but it could be metacity or openbox or any other wm [switcher] s0_icon = false ## this stops icons being shown in the alt-tab switcher. only window previews are shown s0_minimized = false ## this stops minimised windows from being shown in the switcher [grid] s0_put_restore_key = <Super>F5 ## I've remapped the restore key to Super+F5. the original binding is Alt+F5 but it clashes with Unmaximize Window in ccsm general options s0_outline_color = #635bac9f ## the default selection colours for grid are orange and brown. here I've changed them to shades of blue s0_fill_color = #706a9a4f ## same as above [place] s0_mode = 2 ## smart window placement method chosen s0_mode_matches = title=Application Finder;title=File Operation Progress; ## this defines windows for which I want special placement options. s0_mode_modes = 1;1; ## placement mode 1 is centered. the windows defined above will be centered
Compiz as tiling window manager without window decorations
- ctrl+alt+[numpad] arranges the current window
- left and right bottom corner shows Taskbar
- mouse control for everything (but typing ;))
- some effects
- & more
[core] as_active_plugins = core;session;glib;grid;notification;workarounds;place;put;wall;regex;blur;dbus;fs;inotify;widget;animation;resize;text;mousepoll;obs;expo;fade;move;staticswitcher;mag;scale;scaleaddon; s0_hsize = 2 s0_vsize = 2 [wall] as_show_switcher = false s0_edgeflip_dnd = true as_flip_down_edge = [expo] as_reflection = false as_vp_brightness = 100.000000 as_expo_edge = as_expo_button = Button9 as_mipmaps = true as_zoom_time = 0.150000 as_vp_distance = 0.000000 [scale] as_initiate_edge = as_initiate_all_button = Button8 s0_darken_back = false s0_opacity = 100 s0_overlay_icon = 0 s0_multioutput_mode = 1 as_show_desktop = false s0_hover_time = 100 s0_spacing = 4 s0_timestep = 0.100000 s0_speed = 2.615500 [scaleaddon] s0_window_highlight = true s0_highlight_color = #ffffff08 s0_window_title = 0 [mag] as_zoom_in_button = <TopEdge>Button4 as_zoom_out_button = <TopEdge>Button5 s0_mode = 2 s0_radius = 600 [place] s0_multioutput_mode = 3 s0_mode = 2 [workarounds] as_notification_daemon_fix = true as_firefox_menu_fix = true as_legacy_fullscreen = true as_qt_fix = true as_convert_urgency = true [move] as_opacity = 85 [blur] s0_filter = 1 s0_independent_tex = true s0_mipmap_lod = 1.700000 s0_gaussian_radius = 7 s0_alpha_blur_match = (any) & !(class=Conky) [put] as_put_next_output_button = Button10 s0_speed = 10.441400 s0_timestep = 0.100000 [obs] s0_opacity_matches = type=dock | Tooltip | Menu | PopupMenu | DropdownMenu;(any) & !(class=Whaawmp.py | class=Gimp | class=Inkscape | class=Xfdesktop | class=Ristretto); s0_opacity_values = 70;90; [animation] s0_close_effects = animation:Dream;animation:Fade;animation:Fade; s0_open_effects = animation:Magic Lamp;animation:Fade;animation:Fade; s0_focus_effects = animation:Dodge; s0_open_durations = 150;100;100; s0_close_durations = 150;100;100; s0_minimize_durations = 150; s0_shade_durations = 150; s0_focus_durations = 150; [widget] s0_bg_brightness = 100 s0_fade_time = 0.250000 s0_match = type=Dock as_toggle_edge = BottomLeft|BottomRight s0_end_on_click = false [staticswitcher] s0_highlight_mode = 2 s0_highlight_rect_hidden = 2 as_next_key = Disabled as_next_no_popup_key = <Alt>Tab as_prev_all_key = Disabled
- Emerald page on Compiz wiki (page unmaintained, may be out of date)
- Emerald Theme Manager page on Compiz wiki (page unmaintained, may be out of date)
- GTKWindowDecorator page on Compiz wiki (page unmaintained, may be out of date)
- KDEWindowDecorator page on Compiz wiki (page unmaintained, may be out of date)
- Core plugins page on Compiz wiki (page unmaintained, may be out of date)
- Fusion Plugins page on Compiz wiki (page unmaintained, may be out of date)
- Additional themes