There was talk, some time prior to the release of 10.04, that RGBA support would be included in the release. Well, it wasn't (much to the chagrin of many - including myself). That doesn't mean it can't be done. In fact, it can and it's not all that difficult. There are a few bugs lingering, but you can, after a bit of work, enjoy full-on RGBA support which means sleek, sexy global transparency (with some exceptions still).
But why would you want RGBA support? It doesn't really make you a better IT administrator, nor will it make your machine run better. It will, however, make your desktop pretty darn cool. Now, I will say that it has been confirmed that RGBA support will be included in Ubuntu 10.10. But if you can not wait until then, I have the fix for you in this very article.
What is RGBA support?
A picture tells a thousand tales. And as you can see, in Figure 1, RGBA support is quit solid (Pun intended). Of course not all applications support RGBA support. Unfortunately you will be hard pressed to find a browser that supports RGBA. But many applications do support RGBA and many more will come. If you are curious as to what applications will support RGBA, all you need to know is only GTK+ applications are included.
With all of that said, let's get RGBA support added to your Ubuntu desktop.
The first thing you will need is the proprietary graphics drivers for your card. I have tested this on an NVidia-based chipset and it works fine. To get your proprietary drivers click on System > Administration > Hardware Drivers. Go with the recommended driver for your system. You most likely will have to do a reboot after this is finished.
You will also need to enable Compiz and do so with a minimum of Normal effects. I prefer Extra..but this is up to you.
Now that the preparations are done, time to get to work.
Open up a terminal window and issue the following commands:
You are done with the command line now. It's time to enable support.
Click on System > Preferences > GNOME Color Chooser and, in the Engines tab, check the Global check box and select Murrine from the drop down (see Figure 2). Now click on the Preferences button and (in the new window) scroll down until you see Configure of Enable/Disable RGBA support. In that section make sure both check boxes are checked and click OK. Now click Apply back in the main GNOME Color Chooser window to dismiss that window.
You now have to select a compatible theme. The only themes compatible with this are the Murrine themes. To do this follow these steps:
With all of this done, it's now time to log out, log back in, and enjoy RGBA support.
If you are an eye-candy junky like me, you will completely appreciate the RGBA support now available in Ubuntu. It's not perfect yet, but it's close.
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