What Compiz Is
Compiz is a compositing window manager, a program that beautifies the desktop with unique animations and special effects. It can make windows wobble when they are moved, and either explode into pieces or burst into flame and disappear when they are closed. Compiz uses your computer’s video card to manage the behavior of windows and other desktop elements.
Compiz is in the stock Ubuntu repositories and comes pre-installed, so there is no need to download or install it. Rather, it needs only the proper video drivers to run, which we cover in a bit. But first, take a look at some of the great visual effects it can offer.
What Compiz Does
One great feature Compiz adds is the ability to view multiple desktops as a 3D cube. You can even view the cube while playing full-screen video.
You can also add custom images to the tops and bottoms of the Compiz Cube.
You can also view multiple desktops as a set of 2D slides. The default action to start this is to hold the Ctrl + Alt keys and press the Down arrow key. Then, pressing the left or right arrow keys (while still holding Ctrl + Alt) scrolls among the 4 desktops.
It also has effects like drawing fire on the screen:
Raindrops falling on the desktop:
How To Configure Compiz
3D hardware acceleration is required for desktop effects, so you need a decent video card with the correct drivers installed. To check, click Menu > Administration > Additional Drivers:
If no driver is available, then your PC lacks a suitable video card. You can usually buy an older graphics card that can power Compiz for a low price.
After enabling a driver from the list, the computer must reboot for the changes to take effect.
The next step is to click Menu > Preferences > Compiz Config Settings Manager (CCSM) and play with the options:
Cube Deformation is a property worthy of mention. The cube can transform into a cylinder or sphere, depending on what you want. Click Cube Reflection and Deformation:
Click the “Deformation” tab and you are presented with 3 options: None, Cylinder, or Sphere:
Each option takes effect immediately, so there is no need to restart either the desktop or CCSM. Window events like resizing, opening, closing, minimizing and maximizing each have a selection of fun animations:
Each animation is configurable to a greater or lesser degree. The animation Fire is a good example. It makes windows go up in flames when opened, closed, minimized or maximized (or all 4), with or without smoke:
Compiz offers hundreds of options, so take some time to explore and in no time you’ll have a desktop environment tweaked to your liking.