Open Source

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.


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

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