Run Compiz with Xfce4

11 Lug/10

So you’re enjoy the series on Xfce4. What’s more, you’re enjoying Xfce4 itself! It’s a fantastic desktop environment that should get far more attention than it does. And because Xfce 4 is so lightweight, you might get the idea that you could easily add more to it and hardly feel the hit. You are very correct with that though. In fact, you could add, say , Compiz (and Emerald) into the mix and hardly notice. But why would you do that? Because you can. That’s what is so great about the Linux desktop – if you can think of it, more than likely you can do it.

With that said, in this entry to the Xfce4 series I am going to show you how to run Compiz (and, if you like, Emerald) along with Xfce 4. With this combination you can enjoy a snappy desktop filled with extra features.

What you need

Obviously you are going to need the hardware that will run Compiz. This isn’t such a big deal these days. You will also need both Compiz and (obviously) Xfce4 installed. If you want to add Emerald into the mixture you can install that as well. All three of these components can be found in your Add/Remove Software tool.

Once you have them all installed do yourself a favor and first log into Xfce4 just to make sure everything is working as you would expect it to. Once you have that up and running you are ready to go.


The first thing we are going to do is add Compiz into the mix. This will give you features like the Cube, animation effects, window effects, etc. Once you have Compiz installed you will have everything you need to pull this off. But let’s first make sure everything is in working order before we set this up to autorun at start (which we’ll do in a moment).

Open up a terminal window and issue the command:

compiz –replace ccp &

What should happen now is Compiz will start leaving Xfce4 running as well. More than likely you won’t get your bash prompt back. If you hit <Ctrl>c (within the terminal window you started Compiz with) Compiz will stop and you will have your bash prompt back.

Now, with Compiz working properly, let’s set this up to auto start. Here are the steps:

  1. Click Start > Preferences > Xfce 4 Settings Manager
  2. Click on the Application Autostart tab.
  3. Click the Add button.
  4. Enter Compiz for the name, Compiz Startup, for the description, and the same command you entered above, minus the “&” (compiz –replace ccp) in the Command section.
  5. Click OK.

Now log out of Xfce4 and log back in. You should notice Compiz starting up fairly quickly (after Xfce4 starts).


Let’s add Emerald to the mix. I will warn you though, if you use Emerald you will lose all of the settings available to the Xfce4 window manager. So if you prefer the Xfce4 window manager, don’t use Emerald. If you want to use Emerald first test it to make sure it works by doing the following:

  1. Open up a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command emerald –replace &.

Emerald should start now. To get your terminal back click <Ctrl>c in the same window you started Emerald with. Once you know Emerald is working properly you can add it to the startup in the same manner as you did Compiz. The only difference will be what you enter in the Add application window. Here you will add:

  • Name: Emerald
  • Description: Emerald Startup
  • Command: emerald –replace

Now log out and log in. Both Compiz and Emerald should start. You now have an Xfce4 desktop with Compiz and Emerald added goodness.

Final thoughts

The Xfce4 desktop environment isn’t looking so shabby now is it? I am really impressed with all of the progress this desktop environment has made since its early days. I hope you are enjoying Xfce4, much in the same way I am. And, of course, there are further adventures to come.

© Jack Wallen for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to, digg, facebook, reddit, <a href=" Compiz with Xfce4stumbleupon, twitter
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