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Install Compiz 3D Desktop on Ubuntu

Ronald MacDonald <> Wed Nov 18 22:30:52 GMT 2009


Compiz is the funky new window decorator and settings manager for the 3d effects used for the default desktop environments provided with Ubuntu (either Gnome or KDE)

The interface provided by Ubuntu for configuring its 3D effects is very straightforward - and is fantastic for those that don’t want to get their hands dirty. It’s found in System > Preferences > Appearance - and then click on ‘Visual Effects’.

This simple configuration window allows one to select one of the three options provided: ‘None’, ‘Normal’, or ‘Extra’ 3D effects - depending on the capabilities of your system.

Control! Control!

What if, like me, you’re a bit more of a control freak? I personally despise useless effects such as ‘sweeping up’ windows from the taskbar, but other functions, such as the alt-tab plugin, I can’t do without!

Setting fusion-icon to start in Gnome Session

Without further ado -

  • Open a new terminal, and install the compizconfig-settings-manager and associated packages like so:
        sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager fusion-icon emerald
  • Once accepted, downloaded and installed, the new tools should be available to your system.

To get the configuration set-up and running, you’ll have to enable fusion-icon to start in your session:

  1. Go to System > Preferences > Startup Applications
  2. Add fusion-icon to the startup applications (as to the left).

Before starting up Compiz, there’s a little bug that has yet to be fixed in Karmic: it is not possible to select the number of available workspaces once Compiz has been enabled.

Therefore, right-click on the dock workspace applet, select preferences, and increase the number of available workspaces to four.

This does not work for all systems, leaving just a 2D desktop (no cube)

Let’s get going!

The quickest way to get it up and running is to ctrl+alt+backspace and login again, but you can also open a new terminal up and just type

fusion-icon &

Note that in this case you’ll have to keep the terminal open for the remainder of the session!

The new icon should now be available to enable access to enhanced 3D effects on Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala - Right-click, and click ‘Settings Manger’

You’re free to go on from here, but here are a few recommendations:

  • Disable ‘enhanced zoom’ (it’s very likely not needed)
  • Disable ‘negative’ (again, probably not needed - it’s pretty useless)
  • Disable ‘desktop wall’ (you’ll see why in a minute ;) )
  • Enable ‘Desktop Cube’ (see below for advanced configuration settings)
  • Disable ‘Viewport Switcher’
  • Enable ‘Wobbly Windows’ (it’s pretty neat)
  • Enable ‘Cube Reflection’
  • Enable ‘3D Windows’

Also, see the following screenshots, for just what you can do on Compiz at the moment:

Ring Switcher

Ring Switcher



All well and good, you should now be able to use Compiz with your new installation of Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala!