Update: Since I made this post in September 2006, things have changed. Compiz-Quinn has changed its name to Beryl, and up-to-date installation instructions are available for Ubuntu Edgy and Ubuntu Feisty

Well, I got my laptop on Friday (15th September). I must say, the Inspiron 6400 was definately a good choice. The only thing I don't really like about it is the reflectiveness of the TrueLife screen, but I suppose I'll get used to it (the colours are definately more vivid, and it has better contrast... The screen looks absolutely awesome when playing games!). Anyways, one of the first things I did was partition the drive, and install Ubuntu Linux :). Once I did this, the first thing I did was install i8kutils and Gkrellm (so that I could control the speed of the fan, to make sure it doesn't overheat), and then install the ATI Drivers for the X1400 (called 'FGLRX'). Everything was working excellently (see screenshot)
Desktop screenshot

After everything was done, I thought about what to install. I remember my friend telling me about something called 'Compiz', but I couldn't remember how to install it. After searching for a while, I found a nice tutorial on installing GLX/Compiz. It appeared to be quite easy to do, so I followed the instructions on the tutorial. And, it works perfectly! :D It comes with heaps of themes, and there are some similar to the upcoming Windows Vista. Take a look at this:
Compiz screenshot 1
Look at the title bar of the 'Home Directory' window. That's called a 'glass effect', and is quite nice...

Another thing implemented in Compiz is window transparency: You can make a window semi-transparent. For example, look at this screenshot of my home directory on top of Opera (with the Google site open). I've faded the window out a bit, so it's partially transparent:
Compiz screenshot 2 - transparency
Nice, huh? Yet another thing in Compiz is multiple desktops. Sure, Linux has support for multiple workplaces in-built (the selector on the bottom-right hand side of Gnome). However, Compiz improves on it vastly, making all the virtual desktops into one large cube:
Compiz screenshot 3 - Cube
I thought the cube was interesting, but something really interesting is if you run VMWare in fullscreen mode. You can make it appear as if you're running multiple operating systems at once... Take a look:
Compiz screenshot 4 - VMWare

In addition to all of this, Compiz has heaps of other effects which I couldn't take screenshots of (including wobbly windows - windows wobble as you drag them, windows 'zoom in' when you start a program, and 'zoom out' when you exit it, and a lot more)... If you'd like to get Compiz working, and have an ATI graphics card, first get the ATI Linux drivers (FGLRX) working (see http://wiki.cchtml.com/index.php/Ubuntu_Dapper_Installation_Guide for a tutorial. Make sure you follow the second bit of the tutorial, to install version 8.28.8). Then, follow the Compiz tutorial, as found at http://www.compiz.net/topic-389-1.html (I followed the second howto, as I personally think it's better to have Compiz as a seperate session... Have fun! :)

Anyways, I think this is probably the longest blog post I've written, ever :P

Short URL for sharing: https://d.sb/BK. This entry was posted on 18th September 2006 and is filed under Linux, Computers, Laptop. You can leave a comment if you'd like to, or subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up-to-date with all my latest blog posts!


  1. Avatar for Aaron Aaron said:

    I guess you're using the Xgl Xserver, which means that OpenGL apps are going to be SLOOOOW!!!

    Anyways, I prefer the open source ati driver and aiglx method, but it probably doesn't support the X1400 anyway.
    As you know, I'm getting a laptop with asdfjkl; powers (also known as radeon express 200m), I hope that it is supported by the open source drivers...

  2. Avatar for Daniel15 Daniel15 said:

    Sure, usually OpenGL apps are slow, but I found a way to make them work at fullspeed (it involves running them on the other display (not the one that XGl is running on)

    And I don't believe that OpenGL acceleration is supported that well in the opensource drivers.

    "Anyways, I prefer the open source ati driver and aiglx method"
    Hey, you know AIGlx is built in to Xorg 7.1? And Xorg 7.1 is in Ubuntu Edgy.

  3. Avatar for Ben Ben said:

    Nice to hear that it Just Worked™ for you ... I've completely screwed my five-hour-old install of Ubuntu Edgy trying to get it to work. Probably looking at the wrong guides. :P

  4. Avatar for Me My Me My said:

    Bla, bla, bla, bla, bla...

  5. Avatar for Jacinta Fennern Jacinta Fennern said:

    It is constantly amazing to see where technological innovation goes and the potential of gaming is no distinct. There are a lot of cool and quite progressive technologies arising. There is no way to tell which one particular will make the upcoming massive wave, but one particular matter is for confident, it will have one thing to do with finding rid of the remote as we know it!