Tag: compiz

GNOME logoBy Marcos Aguilar

With the arrival of Gnome3 and Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity, it is necessary to clarify two concepts that are different and that tend to generate confusion: Desktop Environment and Window Manager.

DESKTOP ENVIRONMENT

(GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE)

What a desktop environment does is bring together different X clients and use them to create a common graphical user environment and a development platform. These advanced desktop environments allow X clients and the applications to run and communicate with each other, allowing those applications to perform advanced tasks, such as drag and drop, eg.

WINDOW MANAGERS

(Metacity, Compiz, Mutter, Kwin)

They are X client programs that can also be independent (eg. Mwm). Its main purpose is to control the way graphical windows are displayed (position, resize, move, appearance.) and features (links to the mouse buttons, title bars, shortcuts, focus behavior).

Kwin-> Window manager for KDE. Supports interchangeable styles, which control not only its appearance but also some aspects of their behavior.

Distribution: Kubuntu

Metacity-> This is for GNOME2. It has few configuration options. But in return Gnome2 is highly configurable and allows other operators to install more advanced customizable applications like Compiz.

Distribution: Ubuntu 10.10 and above

Mutter-> This is for GNOME3 (new) not allowed to use any window manager without rewriting code, so that no window manager different than Mutter can be installed in Gnome3.

Distribution: Fedora 15

Compiz-> This is for GNOME-Unity in Ubuntu 11.04. It is the most advanced and configurable manager and can usually be installed anywhere, provided you have 3D acceleration (OpenGL).

Distribution: Ubuntu 11.04

Xfwm-> This is for Xfce. Provides its own compositing manager, the first of its kind when it was released. Supports keyboard shortcuts and its graphics are completely modifiable.

Distribution: Xubuntu

Openbox-> This is for LXDE. Was derived from Blackbox 0.65 in the beginning, but has been completely rewritten and is no longer based on Blackbox. It is designed to be fast and consume a minimum amount of resources while sacrificing some features.

Distribution: Lubuntu

Fluxbox-> It is a minimalist, light and customizable. Its visual appearance is changed from text files. It is based on Blackbox code.

IceWM-> is a lightweight and minimalist. Its main goal is to be good looking and still light. It is configured from text files. The themes IceWM can also be used with KWin (KDE), provided the kdeartwork package installed.

Motif(mwm) -> is a very basic and independent manager. Not to be used with GNOME or KDE.

Read more about KDE and GNOME.

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Linux Dashboard Solution With Opera Widgets and Compiz Fusion
By Sam Miller

Many users who have migrated to using some form of Linux from Apple’s OS X, and even many who have not used OS X before find themselves looking for a Linux Dashboard solution. That is, many users look for a way to replicate the functionality of the OS X dashboard on a Linux operating system.

What is the Dashboard in the first place? It is an application designed for OS X systems that supports small applications known as widgets. These widgets are single purpose interactive virtual applications that are used, for example, to display the latest information, the time and date, the weather, online sites, and so on. They are small and simple, and allow for a great degree of customization since the user can select which widgets to use and which not to use. In a sense, they allow users to put together their own interface for performing their own kinds and mix of activities on the computer, both off and online. They are especially useful for power users and web developers who would need access to a wide variety of small apps over the course of their day.

This function as a widget engine is not unique to Dashboard, however. There exist several different engines that Linux users could also possibly use, if they just wanted to have widgets on their systems. What would probably be the more unique feature of Dashboard is the fact that these widgets are placed on a semi-transparent layer that is invisible until called up by the user. This layer can be activated by clicking on the appropriate icon, pressing a user-selected hotkey, or even moving the mouse to a specified corner of the screen. The widget layer would then be displayed with the actual desktop faded in the background. This means that the widgets are out of the way until the user needs them, providing an elegant solution to the clutter that inevitably became a problem with the use of widgets.

Fortunately, even this functionality can be had on a Linux system, and here is how. One way is to use Opera in conjunction with a Compiz Fusion plugin called Widget Layer. Opera Widgets are almost exactly the same as Dashboard widgets, offering a similar variety of small widgets for users to use with the Opera browser. These tiny web applications, however, run on the desktop by default, and are not hidden, like Dashboard widgets.

The Widget Layer plugin would allow you to specify rules for transferring regular windows from the windows manager over to a special widget layer. This widget layer acts exactly like the Dashboard widget layer in OS X, being invisible until needed and called up using a hotkey or mouse click. To make Opera Widgets run on this layer, simply set the Widget Windows field to “role: opera-widget”, and presto! This Linux Dashboard solution is just one among many, but is rather simple and easy, using only the Opera browser and the readily available Compiz Fusion plugins and configuration system.

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