Ubuntu Install Log 4: Awesome graphics on the Linux desktop using AIGLX and Compiz (better than Vista and OS X)

Another fad with Linux enthusiasts these days is the Compiz Window manager. Coupled with an X Server architecture like the Xgl or AIGLX, you can get some awesome graphic effects on the Linux desktop.

I downloaded and installed the Xgl and Compiz applications from the quinnstorms repository as given in this thread. I followed the second how-to to install it as another desktop session, so that I can revert to metacity if I want to use the normal desktop. It took almost an hour to set everything up. Once I rebooted into the new desktop, the graphics effects just blew me away. Especially impressive are the cube and the rotate plugins while the more useful ones are the Alt-Tab switching with live preview and expose kind of interface to view all your applications in one screen. Compiz uses plugins to achieve different individual graphics effects. Currently, there are so many number of plugins available like the Wobbly, cube, rotate, miniwin, dock, fade, minimize, zoom, scale etc., I could not get a good screenshot of the cube or rotate plugins, so I am not posting them here, but the following from linuxedge.org could give you an idea.

The major problem with Xgl is that it is resource hungry and a bit buggy too. If you are using an intel based graphics adapter, AIGLX is a better option. A complete how to guide is here. So at the end of the day, I replaced XGL with AIGLX, disabled a few buggy plugins like miniwin and the dock and removed the wobbly plugin too. (Wobbly made me dizzy). All is well and fine now. I believe I can use compiz as the primary window manager after all these tweaks.

It is surprising to see that all these jazzy graphic effects work effortlessly on my integrated graphics card, intel GMA 900. Windows Vista upgrade advisor wants me to upgrade my graphics card to run aero, which effectively means that I have to buy a replacement for my 6 month old laptop in order to enjoy all the graphics effects in Vista. If compiz can do it, why not Vista? Vista in fact offers much less graphic effects compared to compiz. I see nothing but a conspiracy by the hardware vendors and Microsoft in this case.

19 thoughts on “Ubuntu Install Log 4: Awesome graphics on the Linux desktop using AIGLX and Compiz (better than Vista and OS X)

  1. Hmmm I’ve been wanting to try Compiz but wasn’t hopeful that the performance would be good because I have Intel Extreme graphics (865G chipset) built on to the motherboard of my Asus S-presso. Maybe AIGLX is the ticket…

  2. Yes, you are right. I was about to uninstall XGL, then I came across AIGLX. I do not see any noticeable degradation in performance after switching to AIGLX. Some of the compiz plugins like dock are a little buggy, so you can disable them. The whole compiz package is under active development – I received two upgrades to a few packages in 24 hours!

  3. I have been using XGL with Compiz for around 4 months now. It is great! It hardly uses any memory and works with old 3d cards well (My friend has it running on a Geforce MX400).

    I would suggest installing gset-compiz for configuring plugins and gcompiz themer for adjusting window decorations and colors.

    nonXgl is great for all those pesky 3d apps that have problems with XGL. I use it for playing UT2004 and my fav TC:E. You can also use a seperate x server with Xinit or an app called Xgame but IMHO it is more hackish and problematic than nonXgl.

    Considering compiz eats up anywhere from 2 – 8 megs of memory at a time you can see its advantage compared to MS’s new offering called Aero Glass. I know this is shameless Windows bashing, but the specs for Aero call for 512 extra megs o memory! AHAHAHA I can’t believe these guys. I wonder if they have resorted to just executing the same program multiple times to keep the hardware movement going? Vista will be the biggest damn hog of a OS ever and I am forever grateful to the many people who have provided an alternative! Ubuntu with XGL (AIGLX too, but I have never used it) and compiz simply ROCKS THE BLOCK!

  4. Hello Gents,
    What are the best graphics upgrades for a compaq V2000.
    I have already looked up ram sticks and could not find anything for
    graphics. Not that computer savy, enuff to screw things up.
    Thanks HJ

  5. Me again, any ideas about a good name in ram stiks? alot of them out there. Have checked on several sellers. DDR 200 pin is some of the specs. any help would would be great… Thanks HJ

  6. I dont know what my ghraphics card is all i know is that my computer has a intel chipset. i tryed compiz fusion on my pc and it didn’t work. I also went to apperance and i tryed to enable the medium desktop effectts and i get a error messeg sayin it cant enable effect please help me im stuck. (note im doing this on virtual pc 2007)
    and ive even tryed partitioning my drive and installing ubuntu and even then it still didnt work. (note i know graphics chip is high becuase it can even play call of duty 4).
    Please leave a reply.

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