Compiz Fusion Community News for January 10 2008: A big Year!

At the the beginning of the year, I want to take you on a journey back. A journey that goes all the way back to the beginning of the year. We know and love this project, after suffering much hardship and conflict as ‘Compiz Fusion.
Before I get into it, I’m going to do a quick sum-up of all the things that have been going on recently. Some highlights are 3 newly ‘refurbished’ and missed plugins from older versions of Compiz and Beryl, and the ability to draw almost any 3D scene inside the cube and a video of the newly improved Freewins, known as Freewins++.
Note that this is a really long post, so I’ve decided to add the ‘Read more’ tag to prevent putting too much load on planet.

News in Bugs

  • Fireflies repo is back up again, at git:// 0.6 (Most Gutsy users and others) users can get the 0.6.0 version with git checkout origin/0.6.0
  • CubeDBUS no longer breaks if it can’t find an MTL file to go along with your OBJ file, it just draws an untextured object

  • CubeDBUS also now reads the MTL file correctly

  • Metadata fixes in ezoom

  • 0.6.0 version of compiz-tools should now work

News in Features

Quite of lot of new features added this week, some new plugins, some really great updates to older plugins as well as a couple of new and developing features on the way.


Three, yes that’s right, three, new plugins added this week. OK, well, they are ports of older plugins, but they bring some great new functionality that you probably missed.

Brightness and Saturation Control:

Brightness and Saturation Control, (A.K.A ‘bs’) allows you to control brightness and saturation as you would Opacity, in the same free-floating scroll-for-change style. <Control><Alt>Scrolling allows you to change the saturation and <Shift><Alt>Scrolling

allows you to change the brightness of a window. You can also set by-default brightness and saturation values in the options too. Below is a screenshot of the plugin in action


Mouse Gesturing

Mousegestures allows you assign a mouse gesture to any plugin action that you want. As long as the action can be called by compiz (I.e., rotate_left_key, plugin: rotate would be a good one), you can call it by doing a series of mousegestures while holding down the button. You can have up to 32 different mouse movements per-gesture which can make up to just less than 8 billion gestures! It’s a little tricky to configure, but here is the run-down of how it works.

Each unique gesture requires 3 pieces of information to work, a gesture movement, a plugin that contains the action and the name of the action. Gestures are a string made up of the following:

  • ‘u’ for Up

  • ‘d’ for Down

  • ‘l’ for Left

  • ‘r’ for Right

  • ‘1’ for Bottom Left (Diagonal)

  • ‘3’ for Bottom Right

  • ‘7’ for Top Left

  • ‘9’ for Top Right

So for example, if you wanted to rotate the cube right, on the gesture left-right-left-right, it would be

Gesture: ‘lrlr’

Plugin: ‘rotate’

Action: ‘rotate_left_key’ (Or ‘rotate_left’ if you use Compiz-0.6)



The final plugin added was a little Compiz notification daemon plugin. Most plugins now use a function called CompLogMessage() in compiz now for printing out error messages to the terminal. Other plugins can use these messages too, and this is what notification does – it creates a session with the notification daemon to show these errors so that you don’t have to run Compiz in a terminal when plugins encounter problems. Screenshots below πŸ™‚


News in other features


Well, my touted addition to Freewins that adds features such as scaling, manual rotation, snapping and input shaping is out and the 0.6.0 version is now out too. Video down below.

Most textured model files inside the cube thanks to Cube DBUS

Well, b0le has finally gotten model loading in Cube DBUS to a somewhat stable and usable state and you can now load textured objects inside the cube. A screenshot of the ‘hand’ object being loaded inside – here come the models!


An even more realistic Atlantis plugin!

Well, metastability has done it again and has pushed out even more realism and configurability to the Atlantis(2) plugin. It now includes even more models, such as Aerators (Bubble machines) and two different types of coral. Finally, it now features multi-list settings so you can specify the number of each size of fish / aerators you want.

alantis2.png alantis3.png

The big Year in Review

OK, this is the bit you’ve been waiting for! The Big Year in Review of 2007 – all the rough patches and all the milestones! We’ve made it big!

About the Beryl-Compiz fork

Before Beryl and Compiz-Fusion existed, the lead Compiz-Core developer, David Reveman had just pushed out Compiz and Xgl. They soon caught on as popular in the open-source community and many 3rd party developers started developing for it. The nature of this 3rd party code was somewhat ‘hacky’ nature of much of their (The 3rd party developers) and was not accepted in upstream compiz. Because of this, they decided to start their own branch of Compiz, under one of the lead developers – QuinnStorm and named the branch Compiz-QuinnStorm. This soon became the package of choice due to it’s many new experimental features it had over Compiz. Some key highlights were

  • More plugins
  • CSM – a settings manager for compiz, ditching the old Gconf based configuration and instead going desktop-environment independent for a flat-file backend
  • CGWD – a window decorator based on Gnome (GTK) -Window-Decorator, which allowed for more custom themes created by ‘engines’

Eventually, the changes between Compiz-Quinnstorm and Compiz were too many and it was decided to ‘officially’ fork away from Compiz into Beryl. This created much controversy in the community and essentially divided the community into two parts – those who supported Beryl and those who supported Compiz.

Lights out

The end of the year and the new year started out with an unfortunate event. A hard drive crash on one of the main Beryl servers had taken place and all web data – including the Wiki, Blog and Forum were lost. The website was down for days, leaving many confused, until a temporary notice stating that the server had crashed, will be back up soon. Soon after, the forums were set up again using phpBB2 and the web team started rebuilding the website once again.

At the beginning of the year, it was revealed that a member of the Compiz Community had hacked the Beryl web infrastructure and had dropped a number of blog posts and others when the SQL database was being rebuilt. Soon after, he issued a full apology for his actions, stating that he did it because he felt that Compiz was being treated badly after the fork. He then resigned as the Compiz forum administrator. Controversy then began as to the seemingly unstable relationship between Beryl and Compiz.

The road to Beryl 0.2

After this fiaso ended, the long road to Beryl 0.2 began – which was essentially the first stable and serious release of The Beryl Project, with the hope that it may be included in Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04) by default. Many feature freezes occurred after the 0.1.4.x series and this caused some heat between Compiz and Beryl as many Beryl plugins were being ported to Compiz during this time.

In the end, Beryl 0.2 was not included in Ubuntu 7.04 by default, but instead Compiz was offered as a ‘trial’ desktop effects program which had to be enabled manually. After the time when Beryl 0.2 was released, many Beryl developers started discussion the future of Beryl.

The initial merger discussion

After some brief discussion, it was decided that either Beryl itself would be majorly re-written and take a step away from Compiz or Beryl would rebase on Compiz due to the difficulty of having to write plugins for both applications. Eventually, the main founder of Beryl, QuinnStorm, decided that she would approve a merge between Beryl and Compiz.

The more difficult part was discussing with the Compiz community as to how the merge would work out. This caused much fighting between the communities as to which projects had what rights in the merge. Many Beryl developers warned the communities to be prepared for such fighting, considering the rough history that Beryl and Compiz had in the past. Throughout the fighting, slowly but surely, the merge of code took place.

The beginnings of a working CompComm

Slowly but eventually, plugins were adapted from Beryl to the new Compiz core. The beginnings of a working settings system, which has gone by three names – libbs, libccs and libcompizconfig eventually fell into place and created a better oppurtunity for previous users of Beryl to move to Compiz. After much argument on the Compiz forums and new merger mailing lists, it was decided that a temporary project name be set up as ‘CompComm’ – a community extension to the Compiz window and compositing manager. was set up, initially with a vBulletin forum, and then a phpBB3 forum was set up for users of the new project to discuss, troubleshoot and develop for the new project. Soon afterwards, much of the code fell into place and CompComm was a completely usable alternative to the aging Beryl.

The web team however had only started the large task of getting the web infrastructure together and essentially, merging the Compiz and Beryl communities.

The name ‘Compiz Fusion’

After the new forums were up and running, it was decided that the name discussion be started again, through a suggestions box and a poll. Many names were raised – popular ones being

  • Coral

  • Fusion

  • Colbat

  • Nova

After much discussion, a vote had taken place and ‘Coral’ took the lead, being a name that merged both ‘Compiz’ and ‘Beryl‘ and had some sort of significance to it. The poll was closed, but the name Coral was not announced as official. Weeks passed by without an announcement, and soon after it was decided by the developers that the name be Compiz Fusion. Many agreed with the new name change. Soon afterwards, the logo was decided by the community to be the Compiz Fusion logo, designed by graphreak.

New stuff

After most of the community naming stuff was out of the way, some interesting new development started and brought a ton of fun new features to Compiz Fusion. These included

  • Many old ‘loved’ features from Beryl made their way to Compiz Fusion, such as the different resize modes and transparent cube.

  • Ring and Shift Switcher, which introduced much awaited Cover Flow and Flip 3D style switching between windows

  • Fire and painting

  • Expo separated from wall and given nice eye-candy reflections

  • Cube Reflection

  • Workarounds for common application problems

  • Real time color filtering

  • Enhanced Zooming

  • Ability to draw inside the cube

  • CCSM, a new and powerful Compiz configuration utility


First releases

Compiz Fusion made two official releases. The first was a development preview, Compiz Fusion 0.5.2 on August 13, 2007 and the second was a stable release of the Compiz Fusion 0.6 branch on October 20th 2007. This release was included by-default in Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon (7.10) on supported hardware. Both releases followed the respective releases of the Compiz (A.K.A Compiz-Core).

Web infrastructure

After the development release, the Compiz Fusion Web team finally started to get most of the Web infrastructure up and running, including the Wiki, planet and home-page. To date, the wiki has been very successful with almost every plugin and feature of Compiz well documented, as well as various information for various hardware. During this time, the and forums were merged into one vBulletin forum at

The rise of Community plugins

About the end of the year, much more community development took place. Some of this development included

  • Porting over of older missed plugins from Beryl and Compiz QuinnStorm such as

    • Basic Blur

    • Stars

    • Fireflies

    • Flash

    • Brightness and Saturation

    • Notification

    • Mousegestures

  • Atlantis got a major revamp into Atlantis 2, featuring more models, water and more accurate movement

  • Many more ‘inside cube’ plugins were developed, such as Cube Snowglobe and Cube Photowheel

  • An interface was created to send model files to the cube via DBUS

  • The Freewins plugin was created and improved upon, allowing users to freely rotate and scale windows

  • Anaglyph was also created, allowing for a ‘true’ 3D compiz via 3D glasses

  • The screensaver plugin introduced a flying windows mode and which wowed everyone


Future Looks

2007 was an amazing year for Compiz Fusion. And 2008 is bound to hold more. Compiz-Core is currently being re-written, something we know as object-framework and will allow for even more flexibility in core. Input transformation is heading to make it into X Server 1.6, which should be out by mid to late 2008. Other interesting promises on the horizon are redirected direct rendering (The ability to transform openGL rendering that is run at direct-rendering speed, I.e, no more slow transformed openGL or fast flickery and static openGL), multiple-pointer X, a new and much improved Emerald rewrite and different output backends to scale compiz back on lower end hardware (I.e, XRender and potentially copy-rendering)

Tip of the Week

Did you know that it’s easy to move a window to another viewport from the taskbar. Simply right-click the icon and hit ‘Move to another Viewport’


Well thats it. This is probably the longest blog post I’ve ever written at 2300 words. 2007 was an amazing year for the new project, let’s put aside our differences (if there are any still ;-)) and make 2008 an even better year for a Compiz, Compiz Fusion and the Linux Desktop πŸ™‚

– SmSpillaz (Sam)

22 thoughts on “Compiz Fusion Community News for January 10 2008: A big Year!

  1. Excellent job, one of the very best!

    I would like to see a 3D file-browser, something similar to cover-flow using openGL. Then I can see my CD and DVD Cover arts in 3D with mirror-effect and everything:-)

    That should be very easy for you guys to make. It could be integrated with Nautilus or Thunar or Konqueror, or make your own file manager.

    Please go ahead and make it, please πŸ˜‰

  2. Heh, as usual your blog post inspired me to update–something I hadn’t done in a while just because I’ve been busy in school.

    Also been experimenting with python a bit more…

    Freewins looks great! I’m updating right now…

  3. I’m hoping you guys could help the KDE 4.0 folks a bit.

    I’ve grown to love and cherish Compiz-fusion, heck – I’m addicted to it.

    I love that Kwin added some composition features, but it’s just not compiz 😦 , or all the features.

    Is there a way you guys could write an elegant plugin, or port, or somehow share resources with KDE? I prefer when open-source apps do not “reinvent the wheel”.

    I always felt that Compiz-fusion was a second class citizen under KDE, and I wish for that to change. I would like for all the Compiz effects to be available there too.

  4. Sorry this post didn’t get on the front page of Digg, it really deserved that… Ah well, that’s what you get – sometimes Digg is really unjust 😦

  5. First off, great post. I remember when I first tried Beryl, it was so amazing.
    I have to agree with Max, though. As an early adopter of KDE4, I have to say that KWin isn’t quite there yet, it feels like an early Compiz. I would love to see CF with KDE4 support. Most plugins work, but others (taskbar + panel related) need some tweaking.

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