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Compiz "is a compositing manager, which means that it enhances the overall user interaction by adding fancy effects to your windows ... Compiz can also be a window manager, which means that it is the software between you and your desktop apps. It enables you to move or resize windows, to switch workspaces, to switch windows easily (using alt-tab or so), and so on."

The effects, such as a minimization effect and a cube workspace are implemented as loadable plugins. It uses small programs called decorators which draw the window borders with the usual minimize, maximize and close buttons.

All this means that there's much that can be customised. We defaulted to using Compiz in October 2010, but we didn't switch on all the fancy features. The older alternative on our system was metacity. This page shows you how to customise Compiz or use metacity instead (which you may need to do with certain programs if you have an old graphics card).


In the taskbar's System menu there's a Preferences option in which there's a "Desktop Effects" item that lets you enable/disable the effects,

Compiz can be disabled for the rest of a session by typing

    metacity --replace &

You can switch from metacity to Compiz for the rest of a session by typing

    compiz --replace ccp &
© Cambridge University Engineering Dept
Information provided by Tim Love (tpl)
Last updated: March 2011