Compiz and Emerald
Compiz is a compositing window manager that allows you to easily add a wide variety of fancy effects and animations to your desktop environment. Some of the more well known - and popular - examples include:
- Turning the desktop into a 3D cube, cylinder, or sphere to switch between workspaces / virtual desktops
- Wobbly and stretchy windows
- Zooming in on the desktop
Emerald is a window decorator that allows for a wide variety of new looks to be added to application windows. It is not required for Compiz to operate, however it allows for decorations to be edited or even created from scratch. For now, there are plenty of existing Emerald themes that can be downloaded and used first.
Using Compiz and Emerald together can produce some genuinely stunning-looking desktop environments, although it is still possible to install and use them separately. More information about Compiz and Emerald - including their features - can be found in The Compiz Wiki.
Manjaro provides a Compiz package for Xfce users.
Users of other desktop environments must build Compiz packages from the AUR. This can be made faster/easier using an AUR helper, such as Yaourt, as described below.
Installation for XFCE
To install Compiz on XFCE:
sudo pacman -S compiz-xfce
Reboot once package installation is complete, then Compiz should be running. If not, reboot a second time.
Ensure Save session for future logins is not ticked in the Log Out window.
Installation for KDE
To install Compiz on KDE:
yaourt -S ccsm compiz-core fusion-icon compiz-fusion-plugins-extra libcompizconfig compiz-manager compiz-decorator-kde
Installation for MATE
To install Compiz on MATE:
yaourt -S ccsm compiz-mate fusion-icon compiz-fusion-plugins-extra libcompizconfig compiz-manager
Remember Emerald is optional. You need only install it if you are unhappy with the default window decorations or have other specific reason to.
To install Emerald:
yaourt -S emerald emerald-themes
Xfce users can activate Emerald by navigating to Menu -> Settings -> CompizConfig Settings Manager -> Window Decoration and in the "Command" field replace gtk-window-decorator with emerald.
Users of other environments should have the Fusion Icon available to activate Emerald.
Xfce users can also install the Fusion Icon if preferred:
yaourt -S fusion-icon
The Compiz Configuration Settings Manager (ccsm)
This is where you can activate and tweak any and all of the special effects and animations you want. Although they are quite easy and straightforward to set up, there are a wide variety of options available, and an even wider variety of tweaks that can be done to them. It is worthwhile taking your time to explore what's available - you may end up being pleasantly surprised!
As illustrated, the Compiz Configuration Settings Manager itself can be found in the Settings section of your desktop menu. Alternatively, typing ccsm in XFCE's Application Finder or KDE's built-in search bar will also bring it up.
A Note about Windows Management
A Note about 3D Cubes, Cylinders, and Spheres
1. Make sure you have enough workspaces / virtual desktops to form the 3D shape(s) you want. For the cube and sphere, you should have at least four workspaces - try them with less and see what happens! For the cylinder, you should have at least three workspaces.
2. The number of workspaces set in the Compiz Configuration Manager MUST match the number of workspaces set in your XFCE or KDE desktop. For example, as illustrated, if you set three workspaces in Compiz, you must also set three workspaces in your desktop environment, and vice-versa. If there is a mismatch, applications placed on different workspaces may seem to disappear and/or there may be problems switching between the workspaces themselves.
The workspace settings of your desktop can be found in the Settings section of your desktop menu. Alternatively, typing workspace in XFCE's Application Finder or KDE's built-in search bar will also bring it up.
The workspace settings of the Compiz Configuration Manager can be found by first going to General Options, and then selecting the Desktop Size tab.
As illustrated, the horizontal virtual size setting is 3. This means that there are three virtual desktops sitting side by side (i.e. horizontally). This matches both the number and position of the three virtual desktops set in the XFCE desktop, as shown in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. You can click on the image to enlarge it to see this; there are three squares representing the workspaces sitting side by side (i.e. horizontally) adjacent the time.
The remaining two options can just be set to 1, as they will multiply the number of desktops (e.g. if the vertical desktop size was also set to 2, then the total number of desktops would be 6 in this instance: 3 * 2 = 6)
A Note about Key Bindings
Key Bindings are also a very important element of Compiz. In fact, they will literally affect the way you use and enjoy the features provided. In essence, they are used to determine how certain effects are activated, such as by pressing certain keys together or by placing the mouse at a certain edge or corner of the screen.
Many features will automatically activate, even if key bindings are listed for them. For example, the ability to have your application windows stretch like elastic will happen automatically when resizing them (if activated!), even though key bindings are listed to do so. It is also worth noting that not all key bindings need your attention; many can be ignored.
For example, as illustrated, the initiate key binding to activate the ability to turn the desktop into a cube/cylinder/sphere and rotate it has been changed. Whereas before a certain combination of keys had to be pressed, now all that needs to be done is to click in the top-right corner of the screen. The cube/cylinder/sphere can be rotated by just holding down the mouse button and moving the mouse. Only this key binding needs to be looked at. All the rest can be completely ignored!
The Emerald Theme Manager
Thanks to having downloaded the emerald-themes package, there will be plenty of themes available to choose from. If the Fusion Icon has already been started (see below), then Emerald will be automatically activated as the window decorator, and clicking on any of the themes will instantly change your window decoration. As illustrated, selecting the Scaled_Black_Mod theme has changed Emerald's own window.
Using the Fusion Icon to Start Compiz and/or Emerald
Both Compiz and Emerald are activated through starting the Compiz Fusion Icon. This can be found in the System section of your desktop menu. Alternatively, typing fusion in XFCE's Application Finder or KDE's built-in search bar will also bring it up. Upon being selected, your screen will momentarily flicker if Compiz has been installed as it activates. The red and black Fusion icon itself will appear in your desktop's taskbar.
Right-clicking the activated Fusion Icon will bring up its menu. Here you will be able to access the Compiz Configuration Settings Manager, as well as the Emerald Theme Manager. Compiz can be found in Select Window Manager, while Emerald can be found in Select Window Decorator. Either will allow you to activate or deactivate Compiz and/or Emerald at will, respectively.
To set Compiz as your default window manager and/or Emerald as your default window decorator, the fusion icon must be added to the desktop's Application Autostart in the Session and Startup Settings. This determines what programs and applications are automatically activated when the desktop starts. The Session and Startup settings of your desktop can be found in the Settings section of your desktop menu. Alternatively, typing session in XFCE's Application Finder or KDE's built-in search bar will also bring it up. Once open, select the Application Autostart tab, and click the Add button.
1. In the name field type fusion-icon
2. In the command field type: fusion-icon
3. Click OK
The Fusion Icon should now appear near the bottom of the list. Ensure that the check-box next to it is activated, and then close the application window. Provided they have been activated before logging out or shutting down your computer, Compiz and/or Emerald will now start automatically every time!