Compiz Fusion, latest eye-candy things, how to get 'em.

25/08/2007 BIG UPDATE!! Reorganized the guide to be better focused on KDE or GNOME users, with different instructions. Also fixed some issues that may have occurred if you where using Ubuntu Feisty.

21/08/2007 UPDATE! Added gtk/qt-recordmydesktop to the list of suggested applications!

A lot of time has passed since I posted this guide and I think it’s time for another big one. Here we go, let’s transform you desktop in something you’re friends will be desiring soo much to have. We’re going to install:

Compiz Fusion (it’s still in development and not an official stable release but I ensure you it is really stable enough, much more than the old Beryl!!!)

Screenlets (MacOSX’s Widgets-like cool little colorfull applications)

Avant window Navigator (The most advanced and elegant Dock available for Linux)

Affinity (To manage your files and applications easily and with cool effects)

gtk/qt-recordmydesktop (To record your wonderful new desktop and post it to youtube 😀 )

In this post I assume that you already have a working 3D accelerated card and driver. You can use all of this both with XGL and AIGLX but remember that if you have an ATI card with proprietary drivers installed you won’t have any choice: XGL is for you, ATi drivers are shit, they do not even support AIGLX, you know… if you are lucky and are using the opensource version then go for AIGLX, as you would if you had an Nvidia card. This guide works for any Ubuntu distribution I tested it with! We’re going to see the passages for the Feisty Fawn but if you’re running on Edgy, Dapper, etc, just change Feisty with the name of your Ubuntu version in the following repos.

Add Repositoryes:

Run synaptic package manager (Or Adept if you use KDE), then from menù run: settings –> repositoryes and move into the “third party software” tag. Click on the Add button and add, one by one, the following repositoryes (Hitting the add button for each repository line):

deb feisty avant-window-navigator
deb-src feisty avant-window-navigator
deb feisty 3v1n0
deb-src feisty 3v1n0
deb feisty eyecandy
deb-src feisty eyecandy
deb feisty all
deb-src feisty all

Now that we added all the repos we needed, close this window and Synaptic will tell you that it needs to refresh the informations about available packages. Before you Refresh, open a terminal and paste one by one the following lines, hitting enter each time, to get the public keys installed:

wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -
wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -
gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 937215FF
gpg --export --armor 937215FF | sudo apt-key add -
gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 576856718434D43A
gpg --armor --export 8434D43A | sudo apt-key add -

Installing packages for any DE:

Once the refresh is completed, search and mark for installation the following packages, remembering that AWN and Affinity are available both in normal and svn / bzr version. The svn version of Affinity is the development one. Much more advanced but a little unstable too. As for AWN go for the brz: it is stable enough and it’s the development one, the svn is old, AWN moved.

avant-window-navigator (I suggest the bzr version, it’s the latest. you’ll find a lot of fireworks in this version, believe me! See my new AWN Review here!)
affinity (normal or svn version)
gtk-recordmydesktop (If you use GNOME) OR qt-recordmydesktop (If you use KDE)

Now click on the Mark all Updates button and then click on the Apply button.
Compiz Fusion:

Installing Compiz Fusion in any Ubuntu version previous than Feisty is straight forward, you can jump to the next step, depending on which Desktop Environment you use. If you run Feisty, than be sure to follow this few steps before you proceed with specific instructions.

In Synaptic, search for compiz, then select and mark as “Completely remove” every package related to compiz you find, the same has to be done with desktop effects too. Remember that Synaptic will mark ubuntu-desktop for removal too: that’s not a issue because it’s only a dummy metapackage and you won’t loose anything for real. Click on the apl,y button and wait for Synaptic to do the work for you.

Now you can proceed to the instructions related to your particular Desktop Environment:



In Gnome you have to mark the following packages for installation:




In KDE you’ll have to mark the following packages for installation:



Now, on any Desktop Environment you’re using, mark the following packages too:

mark every package you can find that starts with “compiz-fusion-”

You can now click on the Apply button and wait for Synaptic to install everything you need.

Now let’s start or restart compiz with: press alt+F2, enter compiz –replace and hit enter. Compiz will start with the new plugins and you’ll be able to change every setting with the compiz config settings manager (under the menù System –> Preferences in Gnome). Remember that later we’ll see how to use the Compiz Fusion Icon to run Compiz Fusion, so, this commands will never have to be entered again.

Widget Layer:

I forgot to mention that you may want to activate in the Compiz Config Manager the very useful Widget Layer Plugin. This plugin pratically creates a black layer on you desktop in which you can store your screenlets: in this way they will work in the very same way they do in Mac OSX. Also, remember to right click on a Screenlet and configure it so that it behaves as a widget, if you want it to be stored in the widget layer only. This way the screenlet will not be in the way staying in your visible desktop! Naturally, to configure those screenlets, you’ll have to activate the widget later to be able to see them.

Compiz Fusion Icon + Polemic:

And now let’s see a great step forward in the usability of Compiz Fusion which is finally getting close to that of the glorious beryl-manager (The sys tray icon we all used to change window manager, start beryl, change the decorator, set things up simply and so on). I’m talking about the Compiz Fusion Icon. Thanks to IMU ( I found a working .deb file for Ubuntu. You can download it from here (Remember to browse for your right version, be it i386 or power PC or whatever). If you use Ubuntu like me I don’t know if it is safe to use Imu’s repos, since they are for debian sid. I don’t use them aniway, should I get a comment about this from him I’ll surely change this statement, but in the mean time, I prefer to simply download and install the Compiz Fusion Icon file in my Feisty!

A little Polemic. Here’s a screenshot of my desktop with the Compiz FUsion Icon activated.

Compiz Fusion icon full desktop

Click the picture to enlarge pleaaaaase.

Do you see it? No? Not that simple, uhm? That’s because the compiz logo is totally horrible and in a little icon like this is just disappears. Hope they’ll change it soon with the new one, always assuming they they’ll follow the RIGHT way and respect the community decision

Polemic mode off, here’s a zoom of that nasty little icon (That Beryl had for years).

fusion icon zoomed.

I ensure you it is so bad looking as it is usefull. Finally something that I can use to start Compiz. Open your session manager (System –> Preferences –> Sessions) and add to it a new command: “fusion-icon” (No quotes), with the description of your choice. When you’ll restart X compiz will start automatically! Wow, now it works much more like Beryl, thanks goddess. You can always find the Fusion Icon in menù –> system. With this wonderful icon you’ll be also able to set Emerald and its themes, change quickly between metacity / compiz / kwin, as managers and decorators and hey, did I already say you can simply use emerald too ;P ? Wow. Now it’s better, I was sick of having to Alt+F2 and “compiz –replace -c emerald” at each damned crash.

gtk/qt-recordmydesktop and Youtube

Well, this wonderful toy makes it easy for you to record you desktop, even a single interesting part of it, in a very easy way. You choose the name of the file that has to be saved and then press the record button. If you prefer, you can choose a part of the screen from the screenshot that the tool shows you and only that part will be recorded (may be useful if you are recording small things such as, for example, a part of Avant Window Navigator).

The only problem is that the output file is a Ogg Theora format (.ogg)… this shouldn’t be a issue, all the opposite, .ogg is a free format after all so it is only great that things are recorded in this format but… when you record your desktop, to show it off or maybe to create an visual how to, you often upload this video to youtube…. but youtube does not accept .ogg files. It will upload them and then complain that they’re lasting too much! What a discriminatory filthy son of a b**ch! Well, what can we do? We can convert the file to avi format, it’s very simple. We’ll need a script for this but don’t worry, I won’t let you open the command line once 😉 !

Very well, so just open gedit (The text editor for GNOME, any other text editor will be fine, such as Kate..), copy the following code from this how-to and past it into the text editor:

# Dipendency:
# zenity
# mencoder
# lame
PERCORSO=”`echo $NAUTILUS_SCRIPT_CURRENT_URI| sed “s&^file://&&”`”

if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
zenity –title=”Theora2avi” –error –title=”Attenzione” –text=”Seleziona un file”
exit 1

for arg ; do
OUT=”$PERCORSO`basename “$arg” | sed “s/.[Oo][Gg][Gg]$//”`.avi”
mencoder “$PERCORSO$arg” -oac mp3lame -lameopts mode=2:cbr -ovc lavc -o “$OUT”;

zenity –title=”Theora2avi” –info –text=”La conversione è finita.”
exit 0

Save this file with the name you prefer, I suggest you theora2avi or ogg2avi (Thanks to IMU for this script). Remember not to add any extension to the file.

Now open your file browser, reach for where you putted the file, right click over it and choose properties. Now move to the Permissions tab and check: let this file be executed (Or something like this, remember my gui is in Italian, sorry :( ). See the screenshot:

make it executable

Close the properties window, tell your file browser to show you hidden files (In Nautilus, View –> Show hidden files). Right click over the theora2avi / ogg2avi file you created and choose copy. Now enter into the folder: /home/yourusername/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts and paste the file here!

At this point you can right click on the .ogg file and in the menù you’ll see a scripts submenù with your ogg2avi script inside!! Great 😀 !

Select the script and wait for a popup to appear telling you that the .avi file has been created! Remember, you’ll have to wait, since this is a script there won’t be any progress bar around but the popup will tell you when the job is finished! The new .avi file will be in the same folder where the .ogg file was and you’ll be able to upload this file to youtube normally! Enjoy 😉


  1. Pingback: Solving Video playback problems in Compiz Fusion / Beryl « Il Pozzo Oscuro

  2. Pingback: Avant Window Navigator: a Bazar of new funcionalityes! « Il Pozzo Oscuro

  3. the preferences doesnt work in the latest bzr of AWN, what to do?. :(

  4. What do you do exactly? Right click on an empty zone of the bar, choose preferences and they just won’t open up? If so, I suggest you reporting this bug to launchpad. They’re going to answer soon,

  5. Pingback: Super cool Eye Candy for your Desktop! « Il Pozzo Oscuro

  6. fuck you the icon looks just fine. your blog “community” doesnt constitute a large enough weight to change the icon. mostly everybody is fine with or even likes the new icon. and why are we even fussing about an icon? even so these devels put the most work into this project, dont you think they can atleast get to choose the icon when almost everything else is decided by the community?
    p.s this doesnt change the fact that this is a DAMN GOOD blog, and we appreciate what you do around here darkmaster, infact your blog is the most I read when checking for stuff regarding ubuntu
    but sometimes you are just plain annoying

  7. @MK: thanks for the compliments on the BLog! 😀
    But I guess you misunderstood me: I really LOVE the new icons (The black ones), they’re just great! I can’t wait for them to be used really in Compiz. I hated the blue old one, not this new ones 😉
    And by the way, my community is surely tiny but what does it means? Can’t I express my own dislikes on a personal blog 😉 ?

    In any case ues, I can be annoying, not a big problem, right? ;P

  8. Sorry about that rant, sometimes I get a bit emotional. I guess we can allow a little annoyance from time to time I know you can’t help it :) . but I stand by what I said, this is a good blog and you DO have a large community, enough to overthrow a small country and that must be because I am always recommending this blog :)

    and if I rant again please dont take me seriously i am just an egomaniac 😉

  9. Oh, c’mon, I never get mad for this kind of comments, I could understand that you cared about the blog even if where disappointed about the compiz icon comment…
    in any case you’re right, I don’t think I have a very big community here. I mean, there ar a very large number of people visiting this pages because they find links in google or somewhere else but there aren’t many abituè, so I’m pleased to know that you recommend my blog to others 😀

    The fact is that I don’t get a lot of comments, and I can’t see comments on various posts from the same people, plus every time I create a useless article, I get almost no visit, and that means that no one finds me on google about that article, so there are not many people “just following” my blog and reading every article I write :)

    But that’s good aniway, I don’t care about the number of visitors, I only care when I’m able to help people, that was the focus and goal of the blog, really.

  10. wget -O- | sudo apt-key add –

    this line (and there for all the rest) does not work… :(

  11. Try this one instead of the one listed
    wget -O- | sudo apt-key add –

    thedarkmaster you might want to update it since the other link you provide to get the gpg key doesn’t work but the one I provided is the way listed on the website for the repository.

  12. Thank you very much Seisen. Lately I’m very busy with Geubuntu, you know :)
    Thanks for the news.

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