Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fedora 14 Xfce Spin with Compiz on top

I was recently using my favorite Fedora Spin and I realized that there was one key thing I missed about Compiz vs. Xfwm4 (now mind you I think Xfwm4 is an amazing window manager ... but this was an itch that needed scratching), it wasn't the desktop cube, the minimization animations, or any of the many wonderful compiz-fusion plugins. It was the Compiz Scale feature. It's one of those things that I find myself using quite often because of how busy my desktop gets. I am a big fan of Compiz and have been for some time but there isn't any official built in support for Compiz in Xfce 4.6.x (current stable version in Fedora as of the writing of this blog post) so I wanted to find a way to add in Compiz into Xfce in a somewhat "seemless" or "integrated" way. Here's a short write up of what I did and I hope someone is able to use it as a basis to their own path to finding a comfy desktop.

Install packages (as root):

yum -y install compiz compiz-fusion ccsm emerald emerald-themes

These packages will install and give you the CompizConfig Settings Manager as well as compiz "core" and the compiz-fuzion plugins/extensions along with the emerald window decorator which is necessary if you want to have custom window decorations without relying on other Desktop Environment integration pieces.

At this point we will likely want to attempt to run Compiz and make sure we can actually run it:


This should replace Xfwm4 with Compiz, if not there is likely an error and in that case you will need to diagnose the issue as well as solve it before continuing.

Next we will need to edit the following file with your favorite text editor. If you don't have one I'll recommend the light weight IDE called Geany that comes with the Fedora Xfce Spin by default and is located in the Xfce Menu as follows Menu->Development->Geany. This recommendation comes mainly from the fact that it is easy to use for those not familiar with such editors as vim or emacs and this file is XML which Geany supports syntax highlighting for:

geany ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml

In this file you will need to find the section that looks like this:

<property name="Client0_Command" type="empty">

And edit it to look like this (i.e. - delete the above and insert the following in its place):

<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
<value type="string" value="compiz-manager">

At this point you should be able to log out and back in and Compiz will have replaced Xfwm4 as your default Window Manager without any need to do strange "hacks." Thus demonstrating some of the power of standards compliant software and the ability to be interchanged based on preference or personal requirements.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Xfce Developers and Fedora Community for making things like this possible and allowing me to create the best desktop environment for me by using simple customizations/configurations. I'd like to thank Kevin Fenzi as well as Christoph Whickert for doing so much of the heavy lifting in respect to the Xfce Spin and everyone as a whole for allowing me to be part of the process, its moments like this where I truly appreciate the power of FOSS and the communities that form as a result. Long live Fedora!


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