Screenshot showing the Cube plugin for Compiz on Fedora
Developer(s) David Reveman, Sam Spilsbury, Danny Baumann, Dennis Kasprzyk, Daniel van Vugt
Initial release 2006 (2006)
Stable release[1] / July 1, 2016 (2016-07-01)[1]
Written in C, C++, Python
Operating system Unix-like
Type Window manager
License GPL, core: MIT license

Compiz /kɒmpɪz/ is a compositing window manager for the X Window System, using 3D graphics hardware to create fast compositing desktop effects for window management. Effects, such as a minimization animation or a cube workspace, are implemented as loadable plugins. Because it conforms to the ICCCM standard, Compiz can be used as a substitute for the default Mutter or Metacity, when using GNOME Panel, or KWin in KDE Plasma Workspaces. Internally Compiz uses the OpenGL library as the interface to the graphics hardware.

Hardware requirements

Initially, Compiz only worked with 3D hardware supported by Xgl. Most NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards are known to work with Compiz on Xgl. Since May 22, 2006 Compiz works on the standard X.Org Server, by using AIGLX. Besides Intel GMA graphics cards, AIGLX also supports using AMD graphics cards (including R300 and newer cards) using the open-source radeon driver which supports GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap since fall 2006.

NVIDIA's binary drivers (since Version 1.0-9629[2]) support GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap on standard X.Org server; ATI/AMD's binary drivers do since version 8.42.[3]


The first version of Compiz was released as free software by Novell (SUSE) in January 2006 in the wake of the (also new) Xgl. It was one of the earliest compositing window managers for X.

In March 2006 Compiz was ported to AIGLX by Red Hat.[4]


Beryl was the project name for the quinnstorm branch of Compiz, announced on September 19, 2006 after Compiz developer Quinn Storm and the development team decided that the fork had come too far from the original Compiz started by Novell (compiz-vanilla). After the Novell XGL/Compiz team (mostly David Reveman) refused the proposition to merge the Quinnstorm changes with compiz-vanilla, the decision was made to make a real differentiation.[5]

Among the differences to Compiz, Beryl had a new window decorator named Emerald based on cgwd along with a theme manager called emerald-theme-manager, used a flat file backend instead of gconf, and had no GNOME dependencies.

Merge of the Compiz and Beryl communities

On March 30, 2007, discussions between the Beryl and Compiz communities led to a merger of the two communities which results in two new software packages:

Outcomes include plans to fund a code review panel consisting of the best developers from each community who will see that any code included in a release package meets the highest standards and is suitable for distribution in an officially supported package.[7][8][9]

Further branches

In the fourth quarter of 2008, two separate branches of Compiz were created: compiz++ and NOMAD; compiz++ was geared toward the separation of compositing and OpenGL layers for the rendering of the window manager without compositing effects, and the port from C to C++ programming language.[10] NOMAD was geared towards the improvement of remote desktop performance for Compiz installations.[11]

Merge of the Compiz branches

On February 2, 2009 a conference call was held between developers of Compiz, Compiz++, NOMAD and Compiz Fusion where it was decided to merge the projects together into a unified project, simply named Compiz, with a unified roadmap.[12][13][14]

Compiz 0.9 series

On July 4, 2010, Sam Spilsbury, lead Compiz developer, announced the release of Compiz 0.9.0 with a new API, rewritten in C++.[15]

Canonical Ltd. hired Spilsbury to further develop Compiz for Ubuntu in October 2010.[16] Since then Compiz development mostly coincides with Ubuntu development. Main development moved to Canonical's Launchpad service.[17] The 0.9.x versions up to 0.9.5 were seen as unstable/beta software.[18] With version 0.9.6 in progress, Canonical hired developer Daniel van Vugt to work on Compiz full-time. While 0.9.6 never officially released,[19] Compiz was released a month ahead of enterprise-targeted Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support) and declared stable.[20] A few days before the official release of Ubuntu 12.04 a new development branch, 0.9.8, was created[21] in preparation for Ubuntu 12.10.[22] For Compiz version 0.9.8 development has moved to a new Launchpad page.[23]

In November 2012 Spilsbury announced that he left Canonical.[24] A month later he wrote that he has no plans porting Compiz to Wayland, although he is "still as committed as ever to maintaining compiz in its current form."[25] Half a year later, he stated that he had stopped working on the project in August 2013.[26] Despite this, a small team continues to work on Compiz with version 0.9.13 being the current focus of development.[27]

Compiz Reloaded

A group[28] forked the Compiz 0.8 series code base and modernized it and maintains it as of 2016.[29]


Shift Switcher plugin

Almost all available Compiz features – except translucency, dimming, and desaturation – are delivered using plugins.

Compiz plugins include the famous cube effect, Alt-Tab application-switching with live previews or icons, and a feature similar to Mac OS X's Mission Control. The Composite extension to X is used, as is the OpenGL extension GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap.[30]

The Compiz project categorizes the plugins into four main groups: Main,[31] Extra,[32] Unsupported,[33] and Experimental.[34]

Window managers use a program called a window decorator to provide the window borders with the usual minimize, maximize and close buttons. Unlike many window managers which have only one window decorator, Compiz users have a choice of three:


Compiz or Beryl have usually been deployed on Linux and other X11-based Unix-like platforms together with GNOME 2 and KDE 3. Since version 4.2, however, KDE's own KWin ships with capabilities similar to Compiz.[36] As such, Compiz is not usually deployed with recent Plasma Workspaces versions.

GNOME version 3.0 uses GNOME Shell which is built as a plugin to the Mutter compositing window manager.[37] This means Compiz cannot be used in conjunction with GNOME Shell.[38]

Citing a lack of maintenance on the part of the Compiz developers, Fedora removed Compiz from the Fedora repositories from Fedora 17[39][40] however Compiz has been reinstated in the Fedora repositories since Fedora 18.[41] An official MATE spin which includes Compiz has been available since Fedora 19.[42][43]

Compiz was dropped from the Debian repositories from Debian 7 (Wheezy) onwards in August 2013 due to broken packages and a lack of upstream development on the part of the Compiz developers.[44][45][46]

Compiz was dropped from the Arch Linux repositories in May 2013.[47] Compiz can still be installed from packages available in the Arch User Repository.

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS and later included Compiz in the universe repository. A limited version was included by default as "Desktop Effects" in Ubuntu 7.04. From Ubuntu 7.10 onwards, Compiz was enabled by default.[48] In 2010 Canonical released their new Unity interface which is written as a plugin for Compiz.[49][50]

Some Compiz effects (0.8.5)

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Compiz.


  1. 1 2 "Compiz". Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  2. "Linux Display Driver". Nvidia. November 7, 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  3. "AMD Proprietary Linux Release Notes". ATI. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  4. Staff, OSNews. "Compiz on AIGLX".
  5. "Compiz Forked: Beryl". Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  6. Spilsbury, Sam (June 20, 2007). "And the New Name is……". Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  7. Storm, Quinn. "[beryl-dev] Merge On (details still to be decided)". Retrieved March 23, 2007.
  8. Carr, Robert. "[beryl-dev] Beryl and Compiz Merge: What's actually going on?". Retrieved March 25, 2007.
  9. Laramie, Jeffrey. "[compiz] Compiz and Beryl are Reuniting". Retrieved April 4, 2007.
  10. Compiz feature branch compiz++, Dennis "onestone" Kasprzyk, Wed Dec 24 04:48:17 PST 2008
  11. "NOMAD home page". April 28, 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  12. "Compiz Reorganises, Reaches Consensus Within Community". Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  13. Lyngstøl, Kristian. "The Future of Compiz – Take two". Retrieved April 19, 2010.
  14. Lyngstøl, Kristian. "Announcement: Creation of the Compiz Council and the road ahead". Retrieved February 4, 2009.
  15. = Sam Spilsbury. "[compiz] Compiz 0.9.2 is released!". Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  16. Spilsbury, Sam (November 25, 2010). "A bright new future for Compiz". …I was also hired by Canonical Ltd.…
  17. "Compiz Core in Launchpad". Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  18. Spilsbury, Sam (May 13, 2012). "Compiz Home". The latest stable release of Compiz is 0.8.8. A C++ rewrite has been announced on December 24, 2009 and is now released as a beta version (0.9.5.x).
  19. " Compiz Core". March 2, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  20. "Compiz Core – Series 0.9.7". Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  21. "". External link in |title= (help)
  22. "Compiz 0.9.8 series". Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  23. "Compiz in Launchpad". Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  24. Spilsbury, Sam (November 16, 2012). "The next chapter". Today was my last day at Canonical.
  25. Spilsbury, Sam (December 24, 2012). "Sideways". Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  26. "Are you guys still developing Compiz?". Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  27. "Series 0.9.13 : Compiz".
  28. "Compiz Release Announcement – 0.8.12". Soreau's Blog.
  29. "Compiz Reloaded". Github.
  30. "". External link in |title= (help)
  31. "PluginsMain - Compiz Wiki". March 30, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  32. "PluginsExtra - Compiz Wiki". June 11, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  33. "PluginsUnsupported - Compiz Wiki". March 30, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  34. "OtherPlugins - Compiz Wiki". October 10, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  35. 1 2 3 "Decorators/GTKWindowDecorator - Compiz Wiki". September 23, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  36. "4.2.0 Release Announcement". KDE. January 27, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  37. Taylor, Owen (March 23, 2009). "Metacity, Mutter, GNOME Shell, GNOME-2.28". desktop-devel-list (Mailing list). gnome-shell is set up as a Mutter plugin that is largely written in JavaScript
  38. "Tech News: Compiz vs Gnome Shell". August 9, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  39. "[Phoronix] Compiz Is Likely To Get The Boot From Fedora 17". February 3, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  40. "Fedora Package Database - compiz". Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  41. "Bug 851800 – Review Request: compiz - OpenGL window and compositing manager".
  42. "Fedora MATE-Compiz Desktop".
  43. "MATE-Compiz Spin - FedoraProject".
  44. "#677864 - compiz 0.8 should not release with wheezy - Debian Bug report logs".
  45. "#719870 - RM: ccsm compiz compiz-fusion-plugins-extra compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-unsupported compizconfig-backend-gconf compizconfig-backend-kconfig compizconfig-python -- ROM; dead upstream, unmaintained, RC-buggy - Debian Bug report logs".
  46. "Compiz just removed from the repos this week?".
  48. ArsTechnica: Ubuntu Technical Board votes on Compiz for Ubuntu 7.10
  49. fluteflute (November 13, 2010). "Is unity just a plugin of compiz". The version of Unity that will be released in 11.04 is definitely implemented as plugin(s) in Compiz.
  50. Andrei, Alin "Andrew" (October 25, 2010). "Unity To Use Compiz instead of Mutter – Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal News". Retrieved March 30, 2012.
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