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News, tips, partners, and perspectives for the Oracle Solaris operating system

Fun with Visual Effects (Compiz)

Guest Author

The Compiz window manager comes ready to use on OpenSolaris (so yes, you can even run it from the Live CD). It does require a decent graphics card on your end though. The best way to find out if it will work on your system is to try it. Select System > Preferences > Appearance and then the Visual Effects tab. From there you can try selecting Normal, Extra or Custom (which is where the real fun begins):

If things go really haywire, don't worry, everything should revert back to normal after about 40 seconds. Otherwise, you'll see a dialog asking if you want to keep the new settings:

You could easily waste away days playing around with all of the preferences for Compiz. The effects I list below should be on by default in OpenSolaris 2008.11. I've put the effect category and plugin name in parentheses after the effect, and steps to initiate the effect below the graphic. Note, the <Meta> key is the Windows key on a PC and the command key on a Mac. Have fun...

Desktop Effects

Expo (Desktop - Expo)


To initiate: Move the mouse to the top left corner of the screen.

Desktop Unfold (Desktop - Desktop Cube)


To initiate: <Ctrl> + <Alt> + Down

Exploded Cube (Desktop - Rotate Cube)

To initiate: <Ctrl> + <Alt> + Left Click and drag

Desktop Zooming (Accessibility - Enhanced Zoom Desktop)

Preset zooms: <Meta> + 1 (normal),  <Meta> + 2 (500%),  <Meta> + 3 (800%)
Dynamic zoom:
<Meta> + Mouse scroll wheel

Window Picker (Window Management - Scale)

To initiate: Move the mouse to the Top Right corner of the screen

Other (Less Useful) Effects

Rain (Effects - Water Effect)


To initiate: <Shift> + F9 (and again to stop)

Window Opacity (General - General Options)

To initiate: <Alt> + Mouse scroll wheel




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Comments ( 4 )
  • Tim Foster Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Yep, I like compiz too - esp. the enhanced zoom plugin, great for zooming in and watching web-based video clips fullscreen.

    The Window picker/Scale plugin has another useful setting which I use all the time, off by default though, to show all windows from all workspaces rather than just the current one.

    I bind this to moving the mouse to the lower right of the screen - handy when you've lost a window, and don't want to have to search through all workspaces for it.


  • Dave Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    I was kinda thinking how cool would it have been to have Sun continue to develop Looking Glass as an alternate window manager/desktop to GNOME for OpenSolaris.

    In terms of eye-candy it certainly would have set OSOL apart from GNOME or KDE based Linux.


  • Dhruvin Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Thanks for the good post. It helped me get going faster with the new icandy of this thing


  • Srinidhi Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    this was really needed, as I was just experimenting on the compiz utility most of them were conflicts ;~)

    its clear now.

    Thanks.


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