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What is Compiz?

According to, Compiz is: "... an OpenGL compositing manager that use GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap for binding redirected top-level windows to texture objects. It has a flexible plug-in system and it is designed to run well on most graphics hardware. Okay, this description isn’t really meaningful. In a nutshell, Compiz is a compositing manager, which means that it enhances the overall user interaction by adding fancy effects to your windows, from drop shadows to awesome desktop effects like the Desktop Cube or the Expo view. Compiz can also be a window manager, which means that it is the software between you and your desktop apps. It enables you to move or resize windows, to switch workspaces, to switch windows easily (using alt-tab or so), and so on."

Installing Compiz

To install Compiz, you must first emerge it:

# emerge compiz compiz-fusion emerald hicolor-icon-theme

As a standalone window manager

For Compiz to run as a standalone window manager, you must first change your ~.xinitrc file:

exec compiz ccp & 
emerald --replace &
fusion-icon & 
gnome-terminal & 

The lines after the first two can be any applications that you would like to launch when the server starts.

Now, with compiz installed and ready to run, try starting it:

$  xinit

Configuring Compiz

If it starts successfully, you will be greeted with a black screen and whatever programs you added to your ~/.xinitrc after line two. At this point, you may be wondering "Why are there no decorations around my windows?" There are no decorations because Compiz comes configured to not decorate windows. In your terminal that was launched from the ~/.xinitrc file, type in:

$ ccsm

Below is a table which contains information on the avialable compiz plugins.

Option Location Effects Notes
3D Windows Effects Elevates windows while the desktop cube is active
ADD Helper Accessibility Helps with concentration -- dims all but the active window
Animations Effects Allows you to use various animations as window effects Available animations include: Curved fold, horizontal fold, dream, fade, glide 1, glide 2, magic lamp, sidekick, vacuum, wave, and zoom.
Animations Add-On

Don't like the default window decorations? You can modify the window decorations to your liking by typing:

$  emerald-theme-manager

Emerald offers several different engines for theming:

  • zootreeves: Evolved from the legacy engine
  • truglass: Glassy effects for your windows
  • vrunner: Multiple gradients with somewhat glassy features too
  • legacy: Based on original gnome-window-decorator
  • line: Based on original legacy
  • pixmap: Everything done with customizable pixmaps!
  • oxygen: Designed to be vista-ish in nature