Configure KDE 4 to work with Compiz

Jack Wallen
Feb 15, 2010
Updated • Feb 15, 2018

If you read my most recent article ("Upgrading to KDE 4.3.5 and should you") you will have noticed two things: 1) I am behind by one release on my KDE updates ;-) and 2) KDE has come a long, long way since 4.2.

For the longest time one of the reasons I didn't use KDE 4 was because of how poorly it integrated with Compiz. Although many would protest that Compiz is nothing but eye candy, I would counter to say that some of the eye can actually eases productivity.

With the latest releases (I am actually upgrading to 4.4 as I pen this intro) KDE and Compiz play together quite nicely. And although KDE/Compiz has not quite reached the level of familiarity that GNOME/Compiz has, it's certainly now a viable option. In this article I am going to show you how to get KDE and Compiz working together so you can enjoy the additional features.

What you will need to install

I am going to assume you already have Compiz and KDE both installed. So what is left? In order to get KDE and Compiz working together this is one more package you have to install. Open up a terminal window and issue the command sudo apt-get install compiz-kde. This package will install the bindings for KDE and Compiz. And if you haven't already, install CCSM with the command sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager. You now have everything you need to configure KDE and Compiz together.

Enabling Compiz

The first thing to do is to open up the Compiz Config Settings Manger (click <Alt>F2 and enter ccsm in the run dialog) and enable KDE. You will find this in the General section labeled KDE Compatibility. Make sure that check box is checked. You should already be able to see that Compiz is running. You can test this by minimizing a window. If the window minimizes with no effect, Compiz might not be running.

To start Compiz click <Alt>F2 and enter compiz --replace which will start up the compositor. Now minimize that window and see if there are any effects. There should be. Now you can move on to configuration.

Go back to CCSM and enable all of the Compiz settings you want to use.  You might find, however, that some of the settings in CCSM do not work. This is because some of these settings, for KDE, are found in the KDE system settings panel.

"Hidden" settings

Figure 1

Open up the System Settings tool by clicking Start > Computer > System Settings. In this new window click on Desktop. Here (see Figure 1) you will find a few hidden gems that allow you to add Compiz features to the KDE window manager.

Under the Various animations section you will see drop downs for three effects:

Effect for window switching: When you hit the configure key combination for switching windows (default is <Alt>Tab) which animation will be used.

Effect for desktop switching: Here you can enable the "famous" desktop cube.

Animation speed: The speed at which animations happen.

If you REALLY want to get into the heart of the matter, click on the Advanced tab. This is where you can go hog wild with animations.  In each section you will see an enable checkbox, a description, a configure button, and an information button. For all features you want to enable, click the checkbox and then the configure button to configure the feature to your heart's content.

Final thoughts

KDE is now on par with GNOME in both stability and integration with Compiz. Although the GNOME desktop is, in some ways, easier to integrate with Compiz, it is not the only player in the game. Give the latest iteration of KDE and Compiz a try and see what you think. I believe you will be impressed.

Configure KDE 4 to work with Compiz
Article Name
Configure KDE 4 to work with Compiz
In this article I am going to show you how to get KDE and Compiz working together so you can enjoy the additional features.
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  1. Xorg said on April 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Okay, i have installed “compiz”, “compiz-kde” doesn’t work, but “KDE compatibelty” was shown in CCSM. But if i run “compiz –replace”, no window title bars are there… and if i select Compiz as the default window manager, there are also no title bars :( . Can you help?
    I’ve got KUbuntu 12.10 32bit.

    Sorry for my bad english :-D


  2. WindPower said on February 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    The System Settings is for configuring KWin (KDE’s Compiz spinoff), not Compiz. If you want to use Compiz, you have to set it as default window manager in System settings -> Default applications -> Window manager -> Compiz, and then configure it through ccsm. Running compiz –replace only replaces it temporarily until the next session.

  3. V said on February 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I’m not familiar with Compiz. However, KDE’s KWin comes with a host of effective desktop effects. What does Compiz add that KDE doesn’t have? Is it faster?

    1. Diego said on February 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm

      oh yeah, its much faster and smooth,
      and have more util plugins, not only eye candy

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