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How to use Compiz with Ubuntu MATE 19.10?

Date: 2019/11/02

With the latest release of Ubuntu MATE, the devs decided that their window manager, called Marco, is mature enough to be the default and standalone window manager of this distro. Compiz is no longer part of the installation, and it's considered unreliable. Which it always was in my opinion. However that doesn't mean we can't use it, or try to experiment with it. Here is my guide for a Compiz setup. I currently have an nVidia GT 1030 card and I use it with the proprietary driver, version 435.21.

For using Compiz or any composite manager, make sure you have a capable driver for your card, and make sure it is the latest stable version.

I take a look at both actively developed Compiz, the 0.9 branch which was the one developed by Canonical for Unity desktop, and Compiz 0.8 which is an independent branch, also known as Compiz Reloaded.

Install Compiz

Very important that the two compiz version cannot co-exist. Neither of them are difficult to install, so you can try it out yourself which works better for your system.

Install Compiz 0.9

This is from the official release notes, but I also added the CompizConfig Settings Manager program, which we need to simple enable the plugins we need. I also installed the fusion icon, which puts an icon in the tray area, and helps us easily switch between Compiz and Marco.

This was the previous version, which was in Ubuntu MATE.

sudo apt install compiz compiz-core compiz-mate compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-default compizconfig-settings-manager fusion-icon

Install Compiz Reloaded (0.8)

For this version there is a script that automatically gets all dependencies. Make sure you uninstall Compiz 0.9!

First install git, if you don't have it:

sudo apt install git

Then download the source code into a directory of your choosing:

git clone git://northfield.ws/compiz/scripts release-0.8.16

After it, we start the scripts that help us get the dependencies and it compiles the whole thing. It will take a while.

./go

After this, start CompizConfig Settings Manager to enable Window Decoration, Move Window, Place Window and Resize Window, so you can handle windows. After

Setting up Compiz 0.9

If we don't want headaches, make sure you are still using Marco (check MATE Tweaks), because when you first switch to Compiz there might not be a window border that's working. Basically you will get an empty Compiz configuration.

At first I had to turn on a bunch of plugins to work, but I accidental find an easier solution after I rebooted my system. In the Preferences window, we just need to select the mate profile, and that's all. Make sure to check Enable integration into the desktop environment too.

After that everything worked much better, and we can finally start experimenting. I recommend saving (exporting) into another profile, so we won't overwrite the mate one.

If there is a problem with Compiz, or you just didn't like it, you can switch back to Marco with MATE Tweaks.

Compiz 0.9 vs Compiz Reloaded

I tinkered quite a bit this afternoon with both version, and I have to say that the Reloaded version feels much more snapier, and bug free. I definitely recommend that version.

Happy tweaking!


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