Some Compiz Fusion effects are unsupported and are not usually easily available from software repositories. I installed three well-known, but experimental, Compiz plugins: atlantis2, freewins, and screensaver.

These plugins must be compiled from source and could break Compiz, so this how-to is recommended for intermediate to advanced Linux users only.

atlantis2 adds a customizable aquarium inside the cube:

freewins lets you rotate and scale windows in 3D with fun inertial effects:

screensaver can slowly rotate the cube or have your windows fly around the screen while you are away from the computer:

You need to be running the most recent release of Compiz and have CompizConfig Settings Manager installed. See my previous how-to for Ubuntu 8.04.

Install the required packages for compiling Compiz plugins:
sudo apt-get install compiz-bcop compiz-dev build-essential libtool libglu1-mesa-dev libxss-dev libcairo2-dev git-core

Create a folder to keep the plugin sources in:
mkdir ~/compizplugins
cd ~/compizplugins

Download the plugin source code using git:
git clone git://
git clone git://
git clone git://

Compile the individual plugins by switching to their directories and running make and make install:
cd ~/compizplugins/atlantis2
make install
cd ~/compizplugins/freewins
make install
cd ~/compizplugins/screensaver
make install

If there were no errors, you’re done. Restart Compiz; the simplest way to do this is to log out and back in.

Open System->Preferences->CompizConfig Settings Manager, and try the new plugins:

  • freewins (labeled as Freely Transformable Windows): To transform a window, hold Shift-Alt and use the mouse: left mouse button rotates the window, middle mouse button resets the window, and right mouse button scales the window. Note that you can’t yet give a window mouse input while it is transformed.
  • atlantis2 (labeled as Cube Atlantis): First, you need to make the cube transparent so you can see the fish. In the preferences for the Desktop Cube plugin, select the Transparent Cube tab to access these settings.

    Simply enable the plugin and you’ll have a nice aquarium. In the preferences you have complete control over the fish.

  • screensaver (labeled as Screen Saver): You probably don’t want to wait around for the screensaver to start, so head to the preferences and add a key binding for initiating it. You can switch the screensaver mode between flying windows and rotating cube. If you have trouble getting the plugin to start, make sure you restarted Compiz after the installation.

You can browse Compiz Fusion’s git repository online to find more experimental plugins.

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