Refining Desktop Effects

I’ve written a couple of times before about desktop effects and the how to set them up. I won’t cover that again but will add a couple of things I have learned since then.

There are options

First is Compiz Options. These are found by right clicking on the Fusion Icon in the Panel. There are two options and one I use is Loose Binding. Not sure how it works but it does make a difference to performance, at least with my nVidia card. When it wasn’t selected performance was slow and X was working flat out, taking up around 30% of the cpu. With Compiz using about 15 – 20% that was quite a load. Now compiz is about 25 – 30% and X rarely over 1%.

There were other benefits too. I often found the screen totally messed up when resuming from Suspend. The only fix was to reload Window Manager, again using the Fusion Icon. Now that problem has disappeared.

I guess the lesson here is test the options, the other one is indirect rendering, and see if they improve Compiz on your computer.

Pager

The second thing is the pager. I use KDE 3.5 on Fedora 8. That is the bar that shows the number of desktops you have and allows you to click on one to bring it to the front. The standard pager refused to show the four desktops, it was stuck on one. I removed it and installed the KDE one designed for compiz, kicker-compiz. After adding it to the panel I had four desktops showing again.

As an aside there is a great option in Compiz called Window Preview. You will find it in ccsm under Extras. It shows the contents of a window in the Pager as well as when you hover over the application name on the Taskbar.

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Using Desktop Effects

I wrote earlier about enabling desktop effects in Linux. Desktop effects provided by Compiz-Fusion have a universal wow factor. They add a little fun to using your computer. There was a lot of interest in that post so I thought I would add a little more info you may find useful.

Be the Boss

It is one thing to enable the effects but what about making them yours. That involves trying out the options and finding effects you enjoy and find useful. For that you need the Setting Manager CCSM. Unfortunately it is not always installed. If you don’t have it you will need to find it in our distro’s repository and add it. I won’t give instructions here as it will differ for each distro. Some of the links in the original article showed how to do it though.

Once installed it is a simple matter of looking through the various options and enabling whatever takes your fancy. If you would like a little more info on the options check out the C-F site, there is detailed documentation on each option. Of course the options in your system may differ from what is in the documentation as C-F is changing rapidly and new effects are added regularly.

One thing that confuses new Linux users a little is mention of the Super Key. It is used a bit in C-F to activate various effects. It is the key with the sysmbol of that other operating system, you know the one that starts with “W”!

So have fun and experiment with Desktop Effects they are something special and great for showing people just how great Linux is.