October 19, 2013

Pantheon Session With Compiz

You can create a different session running Pantheon desktop with compiz as window-manager.

First we need to install compiz :

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins-extra

Navigate to /usr/share/xsessions and create a file pantheon-compiz.desktop  :

sudo nano pantheon-compiz.desktop

Paste into the file the following lines :

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Pantheon compiz
Comment=This session provides elementary-compiz experience
Exec=gnome-session --session=pantheon-compiz

Use Ctrl+O to File Name to Write, just hit Enter and then Ctrl+X to Exit.

Then navigate to /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions and create a file pantheon-compiz.session :

sudo nano pantheon-compiz.session

[GNOME Session]
Name=Pantheon Compiz

Again use Ctrl+O to File Name to Write, just hit Enter and then Ctrl+X to Exit.

Log out...

Link : http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2124220

If your button-layout got messed up, start dconf-editor ( package dconf-tools ) and check the settings at :
org > gnome > desktop >wm > preferences > button-layout.

To be able to make a screenshot of  the login screen :

sudo apt-get install xserver-xephyr

UPDATE : WARNING : next tool could destroy all your dconf settings !  Do not use....

Run the next command during a normal session :

lightdm --test-mode

enlarge the window and make a screenshot.....to quit type Ctrl+C in the terminal.

Update :
I found out that Plank did not work nicely with compiz. Minimizing windows will not always move the windows out of sight in the direction of the panel ( as wanted  ), but  also to the upper left corner.
I replaced Plank with Docky :
sudo apt-get install docky

System Settings > Tweaks > Cerbere > select Plank and remove (-), then add (+) Docky.

Window decoration theme : https://launchpad.net/~shimmerproject/+archive/ppa/+index?field.series_filter=lucid ( greybird-git )

Some of my settings in ccsm ( compizconfig-settings-manager ) are :

Window Management > Place Windows > Placement Mode > Centered
Window Management > Scale > Bindings > Initiate Window Picker For All Windows > TopLeft
Extras > Screenshot > Initiate > Super Button1
Utility > Enable Scale Addons
Utility > Workarounds > check Keep previews of minimized windows
Effects > check Animations Add-On
Desktop > Expo > Expo edge > BottomRight
General > General Options > Key bindings > Show Desktop > BottomLeft
Desktop > check Show desktop
Accessibility >Opacity, Brightness and Saturation > Opacity > Increase Opacity ( mouse ) > Alt Button4
Accessibility >Opacity, Brightness and Saturation > Opacity > Decrease Opacity ( mouse ) > Alt Button5
Accessibility >Opacity, Brightness and Saturation > Brightness > Increase Brightness ( mouse ) > Super Button4
Accessibility >Opacity, Brightness and Saturation > Brightness > Decrease Brightness ( mouse ) > Super Button5

If you like to use Emerald Window Decorator just follow this guide.


  1. http://forum.ubuntu-rs.org/Thread-profiler-de?pid=225107#pid225107

  2. I have no borders with compiz.

    1. http://wiki.compiz.org/Troubleshooting#No_Window_Borders

  3. I am fairly new to this operating system, you can help me explaining step by step how to create the session-compiz pantheon

  4. Hi Eric
    I already did, and if I log appears, but when selleccionarlo says "failed to load pantheon-compiz session.
    They advise me to do?

  5. Hello again
    No how to use it, just started using this operating system two or three weeks ago,
    that's why I asked you to explain it step by step please. Sorry for this trouble but I need help please

  6. Hello again
    I do not know how to use it, I just started to use this operating system two or three weeks ago,
    that's why I asked you to explain it step by step please. Sorry for this trouble but I need help please

  7. use nano as I knew I did this:
    I opened a terminal and typed: gksudo nautilus / usr / share / xsessions
    I could also create the pantheon-compiz desktop file and pasted the lines you describe, then I did the same thing with the other path gnome-session/sessions
    maybe that's why I have the problem of not being able to open the session by the way I did.
    can you explain me how I do it with nano? please
    Thanks in advance

  8. There is a bug when pasting text in Scratch with autosave the file will be empty after closing Scratch. Maybe that is the case.
    In Scratch go to Preferences and uncheck Save files when changed.
    Or use nano in terminal : paste the text, then use Ctrl+O to File Name to Write, just hit Enter and then Ctrl+X to Exit. ( I added that to the post ).

  9. Hi Eric
    I finally managed thanks to your help, you're very kind

  10. Hi this is very useful. I get compiz to work but i can't open compiz config because i does not shows i any place.
    And how can i "redecorate" windows as the original Elementary OS window manager?
    thanks you so much

    1. You can always start CompizConfig Settings Manager in a terminal : /usr/bin/ccsm
      Make sure the Window Decoration plugin ( Effects ) is checked.
      For the button-layout see the post...

  11. Hello Eric ,

    I applied ur instructions to get a patheon session with Compiz as window manager .However, The desktop was messed up ( glitches in animations , no background ,when applications close they leave a white mark on screen .... etc) I followed many solutions , package installations .. some said it's a hardware drive issue , others said it's because of the driver itself .
    My laptop is Dell Inspiron 5520
    Please if u hv any Idea how to fix this contact me

    1. Sorry for my late reply, I've been away a few weeks. To be honest I would not know how to solve your issues. Gala is running OK ?

  12. worked perfectly for me thank you. just cant figure how to replace plank. theres no System Settings > Tweaks > Cerbere > on the System Settings. also how do i modify how many desktops I have so i can use the cube desktop correctly?

    1. To install Tweaks see my post : http://eos-snippets.blogspot.nl/2014/03/tweaks-and-super-wingpanel.html
      For your other question http://askubuntu.com/questions/34572/how-can-i-reduce-or-increase-the-number-of-workspaces-in-unity might be a good starting point.

  13. Thanks for the job ! But I've got some questions : Compiz doesnt start automaticaly at the boot session and I must clik on the icon or write compiz on the terminal. How can I do to make compiz working since session boot, but only in compiz session and not in Pantheon shell (to left Gala working when i use it) ?

    1. Sorry, I don't understand exactly what you mean...at login when you choose pantheon-compiz this will be the session at next reboot.

    2. Sorry for my late reply

      My question was about launching compiz instead of gala only in pantheon-compiz session. With the command compiz --replace at start, compiz swaped with gala in pantheon-session too. I've found a solution adding a line in one of config file like above in the tuto (i don't remember what exactly) and now it works only in compiz-session.
      I've added notify-osd too in compiz-session because pantheon-notify did'nt work with it. Now the only problem in this session is why window elementary-theme doesn't work fully in windows borders with some applications (white color window border with firefox or chromium instead of elementary-theme color, but any problem with midori). The problem appears only with this theme.

  14. This din't work with elementary OS freya, not appears in the login session the option to choose

    1. This post was about using compiz in Luna. It worked at that time. I haven't used compiz for a very long time and I see no use for it. I would not mess with it in Freya if I were you. Sorry can't help you....