In GNOME 2.22, included in Ubuntu 8.04, the default Metacity window manager has compositing built in. This means that you can get your eye candy effects without switching window managers!

Metacity won’t give 3D effects on the same level as Compiz, but it’s much faster and less resource-intensive. The main advantage of using Metacity’s compositing is that you can run applications such as Screenlets, Awn, and GNOME Do that would otherwise need Compiz for their eye-candy. In addition, you get shadows, max/minimize animations, and shaded Alt-Tab effects.

Alt-Tab with shaded windows:
Metacity alt-tab

Window shadows:
Metacity shadows

You’ll still need accelerated graphics, as well as GNOME 2.22 (Ubuntu 8.04) to use Metacity’s compositing. In previous versions of GNOME, the compositing was not compiled in by default.

[update] You don’t need accelerated graphics to run Metacity with compositing. It even works well inside VirtualBox! If your computer can’t run Compiz, give this a try.

Metacity compositing is still being tested, so their’s no simple interface for turning it on. You can enable it through the GNOME Configuration Editor, or using the terminal.

Open the GNOME Configuration Editor; press Alt-F2 to open the Run Application dialog and type gconf-editor. Click Run. Navigate to Apps->metacity->general. Check the compositing_manager box, and Metacity will immediately restart with compositing!

If you’d rather just run a quick terminal command, run this to enable compositing:
gconftool-2 -s '/apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager' --type bool true

And this command to disable it:
gconftool-2 -s '/apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager' --type bool false

I’ve been running Metacity with compositing for a few days instead of Compiz. I haven’t had any problems. How’s it working for you?


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