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Those people who frown at the Linux GUI (Graphical User Interface) haven’t actually experienced the 3D effects provided by Compiz. Compiz is a composite manager that adds visually pleasing 3D effects to your desktop – these include the cube effect and other window minimization effects that make things very appealing on your screen.

For instance, drag a window and the window wobbles. Compiz also has plugin support which means that you can add more such effects to decorate your desktop’s look.

Compiz Screenshot

Compiz works perfectly on most hardware that has good drivers – however, problems do exist and sometimes it may not work so well with your computer’s graphics card. Depending upon the kind of drivers and support, Compiz may not work at all, or it might throw up errors when activated.

Compiz desktop effects couldn't be enabled

Those of you who want to experience the ‘wow!’ that Compiz does on your desktop, but are not sure whether it’ll work well with your graphics card and other devices can make use of this little tool called Compiz Check.

Compiz Check checks your system’s hardware and gives you a brief report on the compatibility of your hardware. You can basically find out if Compiz will run on your computer.

Follow these steps to use Compiz Check:

  • (1) Download this file and put it in your home directory (ie, /home/username/).
  • (2) Go to the terminal and type: chmod +x compiz-check
  • (3) Now, type: ./compiz-check

Here’s how the Compiz Check report looks in the terminal:

Compiz Check report

You’ll see some technical things listed in there, and the last line, as described in this page. The script checks

  • for the current’s driver compatibility with Compiz.
  • if it’s an nVidia card, it checks to see if there’s adequate memory on the card
  • ATI/Radeon drivers
  • if the current resolution is compatible with Compiz

Just in case something seems to be incompatible, you’ll get a clear report on what’s wrong. You’ll get descriptions which will help you to understand the real reason why Compiz wouldn’t run well on your computer. You could then analyse those details, and then ask for solutions from others in the Ubuntu community – things will be much easier then!

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  1. Tyler
    May 8, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Could of use this program when I spent hours trying to get Compiz on my Ati card a year ago on Gutsy Gibbon.

  2. digitalPhonix
    May 6, 2008 at 6:00 am

    What terminal emulator is that in the screenshot?
    (or is it just a mockup)?

    Nice article =)

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 6, 2008 at 7:00 am

      It's the default terminal present in Ubuntu's Gnome Desktop

  3. Sathya
    May 6, 2008 at 5:40 am

    I've already mentioned it to the author of this post(Shankar) that this isn't a new thing. If you launch it from the console, Compiz/Compiz Fusion does these checks shows the *exact* same set of messages

    • Kobe
      May 6, 2008 at 1:55 pm

      Does it detect your distro, desktop environment, graphics chip and driver in use? No.
      And does it give you *helpful* info like this one? No.

      Doesn't sound exactly the same to me...

  4. Jeb
    May 5, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    I agree with the guy going by 'name'. I noticed recently someone making a rather neat looking, yet very pointless new login display screen for Linux (can't remember its name) but other than looking pretty it, it wouldn't serve much purpose, and probably would have taken a serious long time to get right, for something that isn't really worth it.

    I think that more Linux coders should concentrate on getting the backbone of Linux more stable and user friendly; if they are to expect it to become 'mainstream'. One shouldn't have to look for answers on a forum and type in ridiculous long codes to get something to work. My Mother wouldn't know how to do any of this so how can people expect this to work for any large number of the general public, these "hardware incompatibilities" should be able to be fixed automatically.

    I say this as I had to spend days finding a work around just to get my ATI graphics card to go at my monitors native resolution (1680x1050) which I did eventually get to work, so it wasn't a real "hardware incompatibility" just naff drivers or somert. After this I then installed my audio drivers (Realtek) only for them to uninstall themselves (or just disable, I'm not too sure as its just that confusing) once I restarted my computer :S. So I'll be sticking with XP for a long time I think.

  5. name
    May 5, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Some of us would rather see a uniformly good and bug-free desktop environment, instead of all this useless (tho undoubtedly impressive) eyecandy.

    Right, the spinning box thing is great. fantastic. revolutionary, even.

    but i really could not care less when the fundamentals of good GUI design are bungled and partly overlooked by F/OSS coders.

    You need to work on your fundamentals, first, before moving on to the next great thing and claming some sort of victory.

  6. michi
    May 5, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Shankar,
    thank you for the handy script.

  7. Guillaume Pelletier
    May 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    How is that useful? If you want to see if compiz runs on your computer, just try it? No need to run a script, just run compiz! Too much fuss for nothing if you ask me.

    On the upside, I love compiz-fusion! =D

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm

      Who knows your system could run into a serious problem. Would you run Vista on your crappy hardware, only to find it hanging often. It's always better to check if things will run well than to try at first hand.

  8. sloppychris
    May 5, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    How cool. When this was first released I left a comment detailing that it wasn't working perfectly with my nvidia video card. He said he didn't have a nvidia card to test with so he used my feedback to improve the script's performance. That means in my own small little way I helped open source! I rule!

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm

      Yup the power of open source. You don't just need to be a programmer to contribute to OSS. Designer? Do artwork. Writer? Help grow the help documents. Much more.

  9. Abhijeet from Jeet Blog
    May 5, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Shankar, I think Linux will go on to become mainstream soon with consumers if such features hog the limelight. I can't wait to try it now.

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 5, 2008 at 10:03 pm

      I can see it happening in a few years from now. There are little things that need to be made better, once that's done Linux will really be taking over Windows =D

  10. opai
    May 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    would it work with a Geforce 8300gs card?

  11. alifaan
    May 5, 2008 at 11:23 am

    @Shankar Ganesh thanks for the script.

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 5, 2008 at 10:08 pm

      Not my script though :P

  12. Shankar Ganesh
    May 5, 2008 at 6:43 am

    @BioGeek We've update the post to link to the project page. Direct link to the download that was returning a 404 has been removed.

  13. BioGeek
    May 5, 2008 at 4:01 am

    The link to the downloadable file you provide gives a 404 error message.

    On the homepage of compiz-check, the author of the software provides a rationale why:

    Lately a lot of people tell me they found out about my stuff on other sites that were sharing those files and/or were given direct links to them.

    Here's why that's not a good idea:

    My projects are free software, thus I like to keep a release often, release early policy for them.

    Therefore I try to update them as often as I can – which means the links to the files provided here will change.

    So when linking to them directly rather than linking back to the project's homepage, you are either giving out broken links in the long run or links to outdated software.

    Another problem is that people need a place to report problems and the only place I will know about them is pretty much here.

    So if you like my projects and want to spread the word (and I'm thrilled if you do), please just link to the respective project's homepage (see sidebar on the right).

  14. Mackenzie
    May 4, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    If you have an Intel 945 graphics card, and it's not working check here There's a bug preventing it from working, but I've got a script there to fix it.