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!


Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year, New City, and the Start of a New Career

It has been far too long since I have posted to the world about happenings relevant to myself and to that of the Fedora world so I will attempt to recap a bit.

Where have I been and where did I go?
I left the humble little town of Huntsville, TX which is the location of Sam Houston State University. It is also where I earned my Undergraduate Degree in Computer Science, where I am continuing to pursue my Masters Degree in Information Assurance and Security via correspondence, and where I have spent the last three years working as a Red Hat Enterprise Linux Systems Administrator. While my time there was good, it was clearly time for me to move on so I began looking around for position openings at companies I was interested in working for. I was fortunate enough to get a recommendation from a fellow Fedora Community Member for a position as a Systems Engineer at Dell Incorporated. I was called in for an interview and I will assume I did well because I was later offered the position which I was extremely excited to accept. I now wear a Dell Badge and I wear it with pride, I'm privileged to get to work in a R&D lab on GNU/Linux technologies powered by Dell hardware (yes I have a Fedora machine on my workbench in the Lab). I'm really bad with words so I'll leave it at this: I absolutely love my new job. As a side effect of the new job I relocated to Austin, TX and I again find myself without the literary skill to explain my enjoyment of this town as a whole so I will again say this: I love this town.

What about Fedora? You mentioned Fedora!
I was very sadly out of the loop for pretty much the entire Fedora 14 cycle and I would like to apologize to appropriate parties for that. I am currently working on getting some priorities in line as well as having purchased a new laptop with a bit more power under the hood so that I can do more QA work in VMs. Fedora 15 will hopefully be something I can contribute more time to. I'm regaining interest in the Xfce world after my tangent off to both KDE and Gnome (I'm really just a DE nomad these days, I respect the power and offerings of all three major contenders) so I hope to find myself on the list of co-maintainers of the Xfce Spin once again and with any luck I can find myself there for the ongoing future. I've also in the last week been working on getting my EPEL responsibilities up to date with the latest EL6 release and I'm happy to see that not only is fedpkg proving to be amazing but also that there is an Olive Branch of sorts being extended to active EPEL maintainers lacking a RHN subscription for those interested in supporting EL6 for at least the time being while RHEL clones get up to speed. While this might not remain permanent, it is nice to see those within the firewall seeing the value and user base of EPEL desiring the community supported packages. I personally have two subscriptions that I use at the house because not only am I a big Red Hat fan but I'm always preaching that I don't mind paying for good software and chose to vote with my dollar. That being said, I don't think contributors should necessarily be expected to follow that same guideline so I like that steps are being taken to provide contributors with the necessary tools.

Well .... that's where I'm sitting these days, my apologies for my ramblings if they make little sense. My blog often flows from mind to keyboard without much of a writing fundamentals filter so for my imminent grammatical errors please be kind.

P.S. - For those who have requests in for a couple of my packages to be updated, I am working with them. There's one most notable which is Pida, its upstream release structure has changed a little so I'm going to be spending a little time getting familiar with the new code before slinging packages out.

Night all,