5.8. Installing Compiz Fusion

One way to make using a desktop computer more pleasant is with nice 3D effects.

Installing the Compiz Fusion package is easy, but configuring it requires a few steps that are not described in the port's documentation.

5.8.1. Setting up the FreeBSD nVidia Driver

Desktop effects can cause quite a load on the graphics card. For an nVidia-based graphics card, the proprietary driver is required for good performance. Users of other graphics cards can skip this section and continue with the xorg.conf configuration.

To determine which nVidia driver is needed see the FAQ question on the subject.

Having determined the correct driver to use for your card, installation is as simple as installing any other package.

For example, to install the latest driver:

# pkg install x11/nvidia-driver

The driver will create a kernel module, which needs to be loaded at system startup. Add the following line to /boot/loader.conf:



To immediately load the kernel module into the running kernel by issuing a command like kldload nvidia, however it has been noted that the some versions of Xorg will not function properly if the driver is not loaded at boot time. After editing /boot/loader.conf, a reboot is recommended.

With the kernel module loaded, you normally only need to change a single line in xorg.conf to enable the proprietary driver:

Find the following line in /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

Driver      "nv"

and change it to:

Driver      "nvidia"

Start the GUI as usual, and you should be greeted by the nVidia splash. Everything should work as usual.

5.8.2. Configuring xorg.conf for Desktop Effects

To enable Compiz Fusion, /etc/X11/xorg.conf needs to be modified:

Add the following section to enable composite effects:

Section "Extensions"
    Option         "Composite" "Enable"

Locate the Screen section which should look similar to the one below:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Card0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"

and add the following two lines (after Monitor will do):

DefaultDepth    24
Option         "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True"

Locate the Subsection that refers to the screen resolution that you wish to use. For example, if you wish to use 1280x1024, locate the section that follows. If the desired resolution does not appear in any subsection, you may add the relevant entry by hand:

SubSection     "Display"
    Viewport    0 0
    Modes      "1280x1024"

A color depth of 24 bits is needed for desktop composition, change the above subsection to:

SubSection     "Display"
    Viewport    0 0
    Depth       24
    Modes      "1280x1024"

Finally, confirm that the glx and extmod modules are loaded in the Module section:

Section "Module"
    Load           "extmod"
    Load           "glx"

The preceding can be done automatically with x11/nvidia-xconfig by running (as root):

# nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals
# nvidia-xconfig --composite
# nvidia-xconfig --depth=24

5.8.3. Installing and Configuring Compiz Fusion

Installing Compiz Fusion is as simple as any other package:

# pkg install x11-wm/compiz-fusion

When the installation is finished, start your graphic desktop and at a terminal, enter the following commands (as a normal user):

% compiz --replace --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp &
% emerald --replace &

Your screen will flicker for a few seconds, as your window manager (e.g. Metacity if you are using GNOME) is replaced by Compiz Fusion. Emerald takes care of the window decorations (i.e. close, minimize, maximize buttons, title bars and so on).

You may convert this to a trivial script and have it run at startup automatically (e.g. by adding to Sessions in a GNOME desktop):

#! /bin/sh
compiz --replace --sm-disable --ignore-desktop-hints ccp &
emerald --replace &

Save this in your home directory as, for example, start-compiz and make it executable:

% chmod +x ~/start-compiz

Then use the GUI to add it to Startup Programs (located in System, Preferences, Sessions on a GNOME desktop).

To actually select all the desired effects and their settings, execute (again as a normal user) the Compiz Config Settings Manager:

% ccsm


In GNOME, this can also be found in the System, Preferences menu.

If you have selected gconf support during the build, you will also be able to view these settings using gconf-editor under apps/compiz.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
Send questions about this document to <freebsd-doc@FreeBSD.org>.