Posts Tagged ‘Compiz-Fusion’

Whether you have a fresh Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal install or have upgraded, one thing you may have noticed is that the familiar Alt+Tab key combo for cycling between open programs and folder windows doesn’t work, which is even more of a pain if you’re using Unity.


Since there is no taskbar in the Unity desktop, and at this current early stage of development leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to accessing running applications, this can be a problem for those not wanting to waste a lot of time fiddling.

But you can actually rectify this, and that’s by enabling a Compiz-Fusion plugin. Go to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager, and under Window Management enable Static Application Switcher (if prompted, click the Enable Compiz Library Toolbox button to proceed).

If that doesn’t work, click on that plugin, and set the desired binding (“Next window“) to Alt+Tab in the Bindings tab. Make sure you click the button opposite the “Next window” for keyboard, not mouse. After selecting to enable that combo you can click Grab key combination and hold Alt while you press Tab.

Alt+ Esc?

If you’re wondering whether the other related key combo can be restored, being Alt+Esc for cycling between windows without the popup, you’ll note further down in the Bindings tab that there is also “Next window (No popup)“. You can once again get it to grab the key combo, but after setting it to <Alt>Escape it unfortunately did not work. However, setting it to <Super>Tab did work, just not as it used to, in that it will only bring another window to the foreground once you’ve let go of the keys. Hitting the combo once just cycles between the last two windows repeatedly, but hitting more than once will bring others in the chain to the fore, so for now the Alt+Tab combo is preferable (unless you know the order of open windows).


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If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04, you may have noticed your Emerald themes for window borders are no longer working. You can still open the Emerald Theme Manager, but selecting new themes does nothing. And if you try starting Emerald via the terminal, all you will be presented with is a “segmentation fault”. This is because while Emerald may technically still be on your system, it’s actually not compatible with the latest Compiz-Fusion.

And you can forget about finding a newer version in the repos, since Emerald is unfortunately a dead project which hasn’t been maintained for a while now. So you can forgive Ubuntu for no longer supporting it, especially since Jasper, the successor to Emerald, is on its way.

But you can actually get Emerald working in 11.04, which you can do by uninstalling it, and reinstalling via git and manual compiling.

First off, we need to totally remove Emerald, which you can do by running the following command in a terminal:

sudo apt-get purge emerald

Next, we need to install git and some dependencies:

sudo apt-get install autoconf git intltool libdecoration0-dev libemeraldengine0 libtool libwnck1.0-cil-dev libwnck-dev

More dependencies will need to be installed, so just agree to those to proceed:

The following NEW packages will be installed:
 autoconf automake autotools-dev emacsen-common git git-man intltool
 libatk1.0-dev libcairo-script-interpreter2 libcairo2-dev libdecoration0-dev
 liberror-perl libexpat1-dev libfontconfig1-dev libfreetype6-dev
 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-dev libglib2.0-cil-dev libglib2.0-dev libgtk2.0-cil-dev
 libgtk2.0-dev libice-dev libltdl-dev libpango1.0-dev libpixman-1-dev
 libpng12-dev libpthread-stubs0 libpthread-stubs0-dev libsm-dev
 libstartup-notification0-dev libtool libwnck-dev libwnck1.0-cil-dev
 libwnck2.20-cil libx11-dev libxau-dev libxcb-render0-dev libxcb-shm0-dev
 libxcb1-dev libxcomposite-dev libxcursor-dev libxdamage-dev libxdmcp-dev
 libxext-dev libxfixes-dev libxft-dev libxi-dev libxinerama-dev libxrandr-dev
 libxrender-dev libxres-dev x11proto-composite-dev x11proto-core-dev
 x11proto-damage-dev x11proto-fixes-dev x11proto-input-dev x11proto-kb-dev
 x11proto-randr-dev x11proto-render-dev x11proto-resource-dev
 x11proto-xext-dev x11proto-xinerama-dev xorg-sgml-doctools xtrans-dev
 0 upgraded, 64 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
 Need to get 29.9 MB of archives.
 After this operation, 96.2 MB of additional disk space will be used.
 Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

Now we need to fetch Emerald via git:

git clone git://anongit.compiz.org/fusion/decorators/emerald

Cloning into emerald...
 remote: Counting objects: 2265, done.
 remote: Compressing objects: 100% (2215/2215), done.
 remote: Total 2265 (delta 1619), reused 0 (delta 0)
 Receiving objects: 100% (2265/2265), 825.06 KiB | 132 KiB/s, done.
 Resolving deltas: 100% (1619/1619), done.

Once done, you will have an emerald folder inside your home folder, so get the terminal to point to that:

cd emerald

Now you can start the compiling (run each command once the previous one has finished):

git checkout -b compiz++ origin/compiz++


./configure --prefix=/usr/local


sudo make install

If you want to remove the emerald folder immediately, you can run the following commands:

cd ~

rm -rf emerald

However, you can always manually delete it later, once you’re sure you no longer need it (you will need it if you want to uninstall it later; read below for more info on that).

To enable your Emerald theme, hit Alt+F2 and run emerald --replace. You should now see your window borders change to an Emerald-themed one, and you can now open the theme manager to choose another.

If the Emerald Theme Manager is not in System > Preferences yet, you can try update-menus (or even update-menus && killall gnome-panel) in a terminal or via Alt+F2, but in my case it only appeared there after I ran Applications > System Tools > Compiz Fusion Icon and tried running the theme manager from there. For me, that only made the launcher appear, and I could only get the Emerald Theme Manager to open by running emerald-theme-manager --replace in the terminal (it probably won’t work in the Run Application dialog via Alt+F2, and you’ll need to keep the terminal window open until you’re finished using it).

You’ll see all your old themes are still there, as they weren’t uninstalled when Emerald was purged. Just click on another theme, and it should change instantly.

Can’t Move Windows After Initiating Emerald?

After that, you may find you can’t move your windows, but don’t worry, as you can change a Compiz setting to rectify this. Open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager (if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal) and go to the Window Management section.

You will see that Move Window is unchecked, so click in the box to the left of it and you should now be able to move your programs and windows around. If Resize Windows is also unchecked, you may as well activate that too while you’re there.

Want to Uninstall Emerald?

If you look in Synaptic Package Manager, you’ll see that Emerald is apparently not installed. That’s because you didn’t install the version in the repositories, since it wouldn’t work. You will need to manually uninstall it, which you can do by going the the ~/emerald folder you compiled from, so open a terminal there and run the following: sudo make uninstall

Can I Use Emerald With Gnome 3?

You can forget about trying to run Emerald in Gnome-Shell, as Gnome 3 uses Clutter instead of Compiz-Fusion.


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If you’ve upgraded your system to Ubuntu 11.04, you may notice the handy Run Application dialog seems to be missing. Or you may be a total newbie with a fresh Natty Narwhal system who is wondering what’s this useless Alt+F2 key combination everyone keeps mentioning in forum posts.

Well, the handy way of running commands without opening a terminal – hitting Alt+F2 to open the Run Application dialog – is disabled in 11.04, but you can easily enable it again.

You will need to edit a Compiz-Fusion setting, so open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager; if it isn’t installed, just run sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager in a terminal.

Once open, in the General section you will see Gnome Compatibility; if it isn’t already checked, then do so to enable this plugin.

When you click on it, you will see a couple of legacy options, one being Run Dialog, which you will notice is Disabled.

Click the Disabled button, and a box will appear letting you enable it.

As soon as you check Enabled, a box will appear to let you choose the key binding.

Rather than click on Shift, Super, Ctrl or Alt, click the Grab key combination button, and hit your key combo, which you’ll probably want as the familiar Alt+F2 (you can of course choose any available combo you like, but at least you won’t get confused if seeing guides and forum posts talking about Alt+F2).

Once the Edit Run Dialog box reappears, click OK to finalise the key binding.

You will see that all is as it should be, and can close the settings manager.

After that, you’ll be able to run commands quickly by hitting Alt+F2 and typing them in the Run Application dialog, or by choosing them from the menu of previous commands. The other benefit of this method of running commands is that you would usually need to keep a terminal window open for many commands, or else they’ll cease to run, whereas when invoked through the dialog they’ll continue to run once the Run Application dialog has disappeared.


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Please note: this guide is for Ubuntu 10.10 backwards, as Emerald is no longer supported by Ubuntu. If you have upgraded to 11.04, Emerald will still the there, but the themes will be useless unless you uninstall Emerald and reinstall a version compatible with the latest Compiz-Fusion. If you have Emerald running successfully in 11.04 onwards, then this guide will still apply to you. Otherwise, read the guide for restoring window borders in 11.04 onwards.


Once in a while, you might find that when you boot to your desktop, the title-bars to all your windows are missing, along with the control buttons (Minimize, Maximize and Close).

While many wouldn’t know any way around this situation other than a reboot, others will be aware of the fusion-icon package that lets you reload your window manager. Once installed, it can be found in Applications > System Tools > Compiz Fusion Icon, and when launched you’ll find its icon in the system tray. Simply right-click it and choose the Reload Window Manager option, and Compiz-Fusion will be forced to restart, and your title-bars will reappear with the Emerald theme currently in use.

But there is actually a much easier way to go about this, and it is as simple as pasting the following command into a terminal or via Alt+F2:

emerald --replace

This just reloads Emerald, which is all that is needed to get your title-bars back. As you can see, this is much quicker than using the Compiz Fusion Icon, and means you don’t have to worry about installing the fusion-icon package if it’s not already on your system.

But there is an even easier way to do this, and that is create a launcher for it. You can put it anywhere you like, like the desktop or on the panel, but if you’re worried about clicking it accidentally, or just want it out of the way until needed, you can add a drawer to your panel and stick it in that.

The command for the launcher is exactly the same as for the terminal, and you can name it something like Reload Emerald/Compiz. Then all you have to do from then onwards is click your launcher and watch your title-bars bounce back.


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Google Chrome is a fast, lightweight web browser, and while it looks good, and there are many cool themes for it, you may prefer it to look like all your other programs. But you can in fact force Google Chrome to display a normal titlebar and window borders, that is themed like the rest of your system, whether it be by GTK+/Metacity or Compiz-Fusion/Emerald.

Simply go to the settings button and choose Options from the menu, and in the Personal Stuff tab check Use system title bar and borders under Appearance. Above it you can also click the Use GTK+ theme button, and the rest of Google Chrome will be themed with the colours, textures and buttons of your current system theme.

To restore the titlebar and windows borders if you make these changes and decide to revert, checkHide system title bar and use compact borders. To let Google Chrome look after the rest of the decorating, you can click the Use Classic theme button, or just install another theme. If you want to change between installed themes, read this.

See also:

Google Chrome Themes for Ubuntu Users


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For some, the great desktop effects of Compiz-Fusion (the OpenGL window and compositing manager formerly known as Beryl) were the reason they tried Ubuntu in the first place. Desktop effects are not enabled by default, since they might unsettle older systems, and for many users they are just an unwanted distraction. If you have them running, you’ve already figured out how to enable them (if not, go to System > Preferences > Appearance, go to the Visual Effects tab, and choose either “Normal” or “Extra“), but you may be wondering how to take control over them.

First off, install compizconfig-settings-manager, as this is what lets you customise basically every aspect of your desktop effects. Not only can you choose what animations you want for certain tasks (like minimise and close window, etc), but you can edit how they work. That means you can speed up or slow down animated effects, as well as change the settings for every animation plug-in. You can disable some parts of Compiz-Fusion that you don’t particularly care for, and enable a whole lot of other features you never even knew existed. CompizConfg Settings Manager will reside in System > Preferences.

Compiz-Fusion ships with a bunch of plugins (compiz-fusion-plugins-main), but you may need to install compiz-fusion-plugins-extra to get more awesome effects, like Burn (it seems Ubuntu now installs that package, but if it isn’t marked as installed in Synaptic, then you’ll need to install it).

You can also install compiz-fusion-plugins-unsupported – “an extended collection of plugins which have received the least amount of review and are the most likely to be problematic on your system.” As you can see, this is a use at your own risk package, but if the plugins you have aren’t enough, you can always give these a try.

To get a system tray icon that gives you easy access to settings, install fusion-icon. To run Compiz Fusion Icon, go to Applications > System Tools. You’ll find this invaluable for restarting Compiz-Fusion if it has crashed, as it has a Reload Window Manager option on the menu.

For adding and changing advanced window border and titlebar themes, you will need to install emerald. You’ll find Emerald Theme Manager in System > Preferences, and the themes it uses have an .emerald extension. Many themes offer semi-transparent glass-like titlebars, animated control buttons, and shadow and glow around the window borders. They can vary wildly, with themes for basically any taste. You are bound to find a few that you find stunning, so do a web search for “emerald themes”, and download some and import them. You will see previews of them once installed, and all you have to do is click on a preview to enable that theme. And any you don’t like, you can delete. What’s more, you can actually edit installed themes, and save them as your own.

This should be all you need to get you going on the path to greater desktop effects. Have a good look around in the settings manager, and try out some of the cool features not enabled by default. And have a play around with changing some of your plug-ins, like turn the flames of Burn purple and yellow, or add heaps more wobble to Magic Lamp and make it last much longer (that actually looks really good on minimise and restore). Then find some Emerald themes to import, and if you find one you love, but don’t like the titlebar font, or want more opacity, you can edit it. You can control basically every aspect of how your windows are decorated, so if you can’t find any themes you like 100%, then make your own!


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