Linux optimize

RIP Compiz

Jack Wallen bids a fond farewell to the Compiz desktop compositor, which looks all but dead now that Fedora is dropping it from its upcoming release.

This is not 100% confirmed, but the news that Fedora is dropping Compiz from release 17 can only mean one thing -- Compiz is dead. Gentoo, openSUSE, GNOME, and a list of others had already dropped Compiz, leaving only one distribution holding onto the compositing software -- Ubuntu. That's right, the little desktop that could still uses Compiz as its compositor. There are also plenty of outstanding bug reports whose issues, it seems, will forever be unresolved. This all clangs out a death knell for the compositor that really brought something to the Linux desktop that no other had.

And, no matter how other feel about this, I am going to miss Compiz.

I remember the first time I ever installed Compiz and got that magical 3D desktop cube to work. It was a special day that opened my eyes to what the open source community was capable of. I was certain nothing could stop them and no one could out-develop them. And from that point on, I almost always had Compiz on my desktop. It was a point of pride, a badge of honor, a thing of beauty.

Even with it's smudges and stains, Compiz did some great things for the Linux desktop. And because of how it helped forge some seriously un-trekked ground for the computer desktop as a whole, it should be given a special spot in the open source hall of fame.

If there were such a thing.

It's not very often I take the time to single out a particular application here on this blog; but with the death of Compiz on the horizon, I thought it fitting to remind people what helped get the Linux desktop where it is today; and even though desktop effects aren't crucial to a solid working environment, they do a great job of helping to woo others over to a completely different platform.

I can't tell you how many times over the years I've heard people say, "I want that!" And they did -- they were honest. When shown the desktop cube, wobbly windows, transitional effects, and much more -- users wanted such eye candy on their desktops. Compiz has, in fact, helped me to win over users to the Linux platform.

And although it seems Ubuntu is going to hold onto Compiz, if you've played around with it, you know that getting the full arsenal of Compiz effects within Unity is almost impossible. And the rumors were abounding that Unity was migrating to Mutter (the GNOME 3 compositor). Well, it seems those rumors were just that. When it was announced that Unity would keep Compiz, the general feeling was that Compiz would enjoy much faster (and better) development. That has not been the case. The bugs in Compiz aren't getting resolved and the only bits and pieces that are getting any attention are those that affect Ubuntu Unity.

So, I believe it is safe to bid Compiz, as we've known and loved it, a fond farewell. You were an amazing piece of desktop software that did more for the Linux movement than many will stop to give you credit for. And I would hope that all open source and Linux fans will take a moment and offer up some appreciation to the developers that worked hard on a project that was about as unique a project as any on the landscape.

Unfortunately, Compiz is now only associated with a desktop that has brought about more disdain than any other. The majority of the people have spoken regarding Unity, but Ubuntu is holding fast and true. Now this all may change when the first Ubuntu tablet arrives. And when it does, I hope Compiz effects are a part of it -- because if they are, it will be something REALLY special. So...ultimately, there is a bit of hope and life left in the compositor that brought "special" to Linux desktop effects. But in the end, the Compiz we all knew and loved is effectively dead.

RIP, Cheers, bravo, and huzzah to anyone that ever helped on the Compiz project. I hope that your life with Unity continues on and that some day the project gets to enjoy a rebirth.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

30 comments
tkulig
tkulig

Fedora 20 - And Compiz is still there. Not sure where you got your information.

wa7qzr
wa7qzr

You know, I've been able to make/keep Compiz 0.8.4, and Emerald, running on just about any distro with just a few minor changes (case changes to external Glib references, for example). Compiz 0.8.6 comes std with Magia-1, which forked off of Mandriva, after the Mandriva folks lost their minds. The way I see it, if you want to vote for keeping a piece of software alive, then use it. Don't whine because some pompous, swaggering, two-bit, tin-plated, dictator with delusions of godhood attempts to reshape the look of the Linux desktop into their personal, twisted, LSD-inspired vision of perfection. I mean, really. If you're running some flavour of Linux already, you've won half the battle.

jamied_uk
jamied_uk

ON all mint distros (all of them) Need compiz fusion to work out the box as soon as graphics drivers are on (recommended) i want wobbly windows and 3d cube effects all of it now stop messing with us and give us what we want... to those who dont miss it your a noob thats the only thing i liked about linux was compiz fusion :/ sort it out Mint! i wanit on Mint 13 final releases!!!!

shanept
shanept

This is indeed sad news. However not unexpected. I am with gordon@... on this. I used to love Ubuntu. 10.10 was by favourite. Then came 11. I tried it however it was way too buggy. Recently I downloaded 12.04 in hopes that it would not be that bad, however it is still horrible and the user interface is completely illogical for a desktop. Ubuntu has now lost me, possibly forever, as I am sure a heck of a lot of others. Even Compiz could not save it. And Compiz was one of the major reasons I stayed with Ubuntu. But one can not overlook the obvious bugs and design flaws in a system that was really designed for a tablet. Having read gordon@...'s comment, I might have a look at OpenSUSE as well. I have had my eye somewhat on it and a few other distributions. Goodbye Compiz. Maybe we shall meet another day.

nothing.for.my.life
nothing.for.my.life

It's happening and yes, my vote for Compiz to be in an open source hall of fame. The Compiz team deserves it! As to me, one of the reasons which helped me settle down with Linux without hesitation years ago is having Compiz on my desktop :).

quequotion
quequotion

Compiz cannot be allowed to die. It is the only viable means of challenging Window's and MacOS's market share. Yes, it has bugs. Yes, development has slowed down. No, Unity was not a good idea. The bugs are getting fixed, and a lot of them are very minor. Take a look at the bzr in launchpad. Development is gaining momentum again, although the old community is dead. Again, take a look at the bzr in launchpad. Unity never was, and likely never will be, a good idea; failures are learning experiences. I don't understand why so many linux developers disdain this very important, very unique, very useful desktop manager. Three things can attract ordinary users to the linux desktop: zero cost, security, and compiz. Of the three, compiz is the most important. Security is not a serious concern for many users; not as serious as it should be at least. Plenty of users are used to blowing cash on Microsoft and Apple without a second thought. Compiz can be seen and (virtually) touched. It's cool, it's convenient, and it's a lot more stable than it's reputation.

yaseennoorani
yaseennoorani

I remember very well that single moment of my conversion between Windows and Linux, it was when my window wobbled. In my country knowledge about Linux is very rare so I had never really seen it before. I had somehow gotten my hands onto Ubuntu Jaunty and that was when I discovered about the beauty of Linux and FOSS which started with compiz. Why, oh, why is the best compositing manager in the world on its deathbed. Lots of functionality combined with a lot more fun, which the 'users' which everyone keeps talking about these days, could just turn off if they didn't want it. Unfortunately I don't see what is so appealing about Mutter on gnome and Unity makes it even easier to break compiz. Kwin is pretty good but IMHO it still doesn't come on par with compiz. Windows' Aero, well...it's a pure bore although Apple's is quite good. But, I still have hope that it will be revived soon enough along with Emerald (btw, what happened to it?).

Jenerix-logos
Jenerix-logos

Compiz trix were always the last thing I showed when "selling" a client on Linux. Towards the end of a demonstration, after opening several apps (Thunderbird, Firefox, Chrome, Writer, Calc, Inkscape), I'd rotate the apps to get back to Firefox (Windows Key + Tab). When I got a "whoa" from that, I'd show 'em Desktop rotation (always a sphere). It was the seal on the deal. While I appreciate the Unity DE (my teen daughter and my 80-year-old mother-in-law both love it), I prefer the Gnomenclature experience. Despite my preference, I could see Unity making inroads on the smartphone/tablet market, challenging Windows 8, IOS and Android. When UbuntuUnity comes out for tablets, I'll give it a tour on my Nook Color, currently running CyanogenMod7.

realvarezm
realvarezm

I used it some times in my life and until this day i never wonder why it didnt stay or thrive. It was beautiful back then, but just a bunch of people keep it polished or even work to improve it. We had a comunity that tried to do some improvements in compiz. Time goes by and when there is no financial incentive, you got old and have kids and think back about this and suddenly is like a smack in your face. Big dissapointment on me and everybody that let this beautiful thing disapear in the big history of IT evolution

bni1369
bni1369

I agree. CompIz is a good concept and it would be foolish to abandon it. If one has an ATI video card, CompIz is indispensable for resolving screen lock-ups (i.e. 'Turn off vBlank'). It made all the difference in the way my systems performed. As to Unity, all I can say is what I've said on many an occasion,if you don't like it, don't use it. My experience with Unity has been mostly favorable. Yes, it's geared toward touch pads and screens. If the developers of the many available Linux distros honestly want to 'keep up' with consumer demand and maintain their presence, they'd be wise to follow suit. Touch pads and screens are the future of computing...like it or not. Linux developers should take a lesson from Microsoft with respect to Windows 8. Win 8 has the capability to run both on older pc's and touchpads. Win 8 is a lot closer to the Unity concept than any Linux guru would care to admit. By the way...Win 8 works pretty well.

saborus789
saborus789

That is the problem with the open source community and of course Linux, one day you have a great piece of software, the other day it's gone.

Thumper33
Thumper33

It was about 3 years ago while on a training trip to my company's home office, a co-worker I had just met showed me his laptop running on Ubuntu with the desktop cube. I had played with Linux a few times, never used it for much, but when I saw the cube I knew I had to figure out how to dump the M$ pile and make Linux my daily use system. Today every one of my computers runs Linux (two Mint 11 laptops, a Ubuntu 10.04 desktop/media server, a Ubuntu 11.04 desktop, and a XBMC home theater system). My only remaining tie is a XP virtual machine on a laptop that is required to run software to interface with my VW GTI to change settings and read codes and data streams from the onboard computer. I will enjoy the last few years we have with Compiz, and hope that someone else in the open source community sees the gap it will leave and will step up to offer a solution.

Freebird54
Freebird54

Only one thing surprises me a bit - the assertion that there is some problem getting Compiz effects to work with Unity. I haven't found any that DON'T work as yet - although after 'checking them out' again, I disabled the 'fire and rain' options and simplified the animations for open, close, minimize etc. I kept the cube and gears though - just so used to the visualization of my different workspaces... I don't know about its future, but the present is pretty good still. BTW - Unity just ISN'T so bad as all that - it gives a fast and easy to follow workflow. Finding customizations is still tougher than it needs to be, though!

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

That they already are. Or else, Compiz wouldn't have been dropped already. No different than the US Air Force. By the time they let us see the latest and greatest spy plane, you KNOW they have already moved on. Witness the U2... By the time we, the general public were made aware of it, the Blackbird was already flying missions. Now that we know about the Blackbird... You really think we have nothing better out there flying? Same thing with the Linux desktop. We may suffer with plain desktops for a while, just long enough to REALLY appreciate the 'Next Thing'. (Bugs and all) Personally, I never got everything working for me, possibly because I didn't really try hard enough. (Not with these old machines!) But I WOULD have liked to see it fully matured, and become a stable, solid desktop before it is mothballed. But, as it IS, (To be mothballed) it would seem, I'll bet you nickles to doughnuts that something better IS already being worked out. And that THAT'S the reason for dropping Compiz so quickly. Before fixing all the little niggling flaws. Any takers? Junkman

sam
sam

There's going to have to be a very compelling reason to upgrade to a version without Compiz. I'll stick with the latest versions of each distro that include Compiz until they pry it from my cold dead fingers.... or come up with something cooler. :) Sam

Ubuntu Warrior
Ubuntu Warrior

I fully agree that Compiz played a major role in many of my Linux roll-out projects. I have led/worked on 12 Linux desktop roll-outs over the past 3 years and in 11 I would say that Compiz features made our lives much easier when trying to get users to see past their old Windows desktop. The features were important to them and I could see why. The days of tethering users to their computers via their mouse cable to work on a bland function-only desktop are gone - thank Heavens! People need to add a bit of pizazz to their corporate life as long as they get the job done. For me personally things like Wobbly Windows and doodling on the screen with fire are not that important for me to be a productive Linux desktop user but they sure are fun. Thanks Compiz team for showing what the Linux desktop experience can really offer.

paulfx1
paulfx1

I always heard so much bad stuff about Compiz I invariably made sure it was never on any of my systems. I don't go in for glitzy eye candy as a general rule anyways. About as fancy as I get is window shading. Sorry, I'm just not a bling kind of a guy. Say what you will about Linux it has been nothing short of an abject failure on the desktop. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan, and I run Linux exclusively on all of my systems, but let's be honest, Linux on the desktop has been, up until now, a non-starter. Apparently Compiz wasn't the silver bullet Linux needed to ride to the head of the pack on either. Even if Compiz was as steady as a rock knowing me it is unlikely I'd have used it. My mantra is substance over style.

ken
ken

Ever since olvwm -- remember that?? -- I've been a fan of a really nice virtual desktop manager. And Compiz is *the* only one that, IMHO, beat olvwm (yeah, sorry, Enlightenment). The cube. The expo display. Windows-A. And, for the love of Mike, wobbly windows. There are so many cool things about it that I was devastated when Ubuntu dumped it... until I realized that xubuntu was close enough for government work, and a simple "apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager; compiz --replace ccp", and a save of the session, and lo! It was back. I've retrofitted all the systems that I care about keeping current; xubuntu does a fine job of that. God willing, it'll stick around for 12.04, and then I'll have it for at least another five years.

anthonie
anthonie

I appreciated it. An article well deserved for a piece of software truly unique. My condolences to everyone.

Sepius
Sepius

I love Compiz. I loaded Mint 12 and my desktop is just Compiz with Cairo-dock. It is customisable and funky cool. I don't mind the other compositors, but I find it hard to make them fit within my work process, I still use four desktops and switch between them, and some of the new ones seem to make that simple task, difficult (I use EXPO a lot to switch and drag with the edge feature at the bottom right, and damn it, it looks good). I would love it to stay, or at least the new compositors use some of Compizs' candy. Maybe some will come back ... maybe.

wa7qzr
wa7qzr

I guess comments that are not in agreement with the distros and community leaders are getting purged from here. I guess they want a choir to preach to.

johnpiers
johnpiers

It will be a sad day if this happens! Yes, there are plenty of issues, but why can't they be resolved? It just seems a real pity after all the work that has gone into a project like this.

paulfx1
paulfx1

If you want, and it is FOSS. I'm running KDE 3.5 on Debian Squeeze over here. Different strokes for different folks. Linux is just an OS kernel, and distributions are just collections of software packages. The rest is up to you! I am beginning to think that the real trick is to do an "expert" custom minimum install with any distribution. Don't just pick "Typical Desktop", or whatever your distribution calls it. Then go from there. Either that or you will get stuck with whatever some pompous, swaggering, two-bit, tin-plated, dictator with delusions of godhood throws at you. It works here.

shanept
shanept

So how much exactly are you paying for your distro? 'Nothing'??? How much are you contributing? Nothing, right? You sound like a snot-nosed spoil brat... 'i want wobbly windows and 3d cube effects all of it now stop messing with us and give us what we want...' And you are probably about 10, as you have to call others noobs. The developers work very hard for little pay. They do an amazing job and i will bet they have achieved more than you ever will. Be happy with what you have, and if not, don't demand things be changed until you are paying.

gordon
gordon

In 2011, Canonical Ltd. hired Sam Spilsbury, lead Compiz developer, to develop Unity which is based on Compiz. Canonical had no intention to continue to develop/support Compiz as an open source standalone project. So, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened as soon as the Compiz project lost their lead developer. As far as the desktop is concerned, Canonical ONLY cares about one thing and that is Unity. Don't forget that either. In fact, I am sure that it is fine with them that Compiz may now fade away on other distros. I too had been using Ubuntu until Ubuntu 11.10 was released. Thanks to Unity, I left Ubuntu and doubt that I will ever return. Also, you Compiz fans need to test drive KDE4. I switched from Compiz/Gnome2 to KDE4 and am loving it. You get everything from KDE4 with which you are accustomed in Compiz/Gnome2 including the cube, wobbling windows, transparency, etc. And, by the way, I hope that everyone noticed that Canonical just dropped Kubuntu as an official Ubuntu derivative. No surprise, huh?.....! OpenSUSE is now my distro of choice. I selected OpenSUSE since they are the only major distro whose default desktop is KDE. Nevertheless, I also like Fedora and Mint too. Just don't forget, Canonical is the fox in the hen house as far as the demise of the Compiz project is concerned.

paulfx1
paulfx1

You'd better go find the fun OS. Linux is all about work. The beauty of Linux of course is if you work at it you can run code from whenever. So if you really like Compiz you can use if forever. Once the source code is out no one can really keep you from using it. Just distributions do not package it and offer it in their repositories anymore. That doesn't really make anything go away. You can still hook up to their git server, make yourself a source tree and build the binaries you need though. If you really don't like the idea of some software being left out, or included you can even make up your own distribution. Thousands have. The only license they have to do it is the same one we all use, the GPL.

yaseennoorani
yaseennoorani

'one day you have a great piece of software' at least you have that one day

aroc
aroc

I always seemed to run those kinds of PC's that could not handle it (low-end/Intel GMA), so never got interested. One more thing that undercut the mantra of Linux "saving" older PC's. - sorry, but I had to save them with less demanding eye candy/DE's, and they have been quite useful without the spinning cube...

paulfx1
paulfx1

If I want wobbly Windows I'll run Microsoft. I run Linux for stability though. Compiz was always a bug ridden plague of a mess. Whenever it got installed I always disabled it. So as Forrest Gump would say, one less thing. I love KDE 3.5 but I'm not too crazy about KDE 4.X When I can't run KDE 3.5 anymore I guess I'll have to take a step down and use Xfce. Because it seems like Gnome and KDE both suck anymore. At least the kernel isn't completely in the crapper yet. I sure wouldn't select a distribution merely on what desktop was its default. That is easy enough to change. Heck, my distribution doesn't even offer what I want in its repository. It slowed me down a little, but I didn't let it stop me from choosing what I want. If I just put up with whatever whoever wanted to shove down my throat I'd pack it in and run a Mac.