The rants of a constantly ticking mind, combined with a mess of reviews and obscure titling methods.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'Boing, boing, boing, boing boingboinboingngngng' - Aphex Twin, 'Bucephalus Bouncing Ball'

UPDATE 2: Actually, after trying the new driver, it's is hopelessly finickity and slow - so I'd actually still recommend sticking with the Ubuntu-restricted drivers and XGL.

UPDATE: D'oh! No sooner had I typed this post than AMD/ATI release a driver that supports the default AIGLX. Oh well, if you don't want to wait for it to propagate then use the walkthrough below.

I'm sorry for the flurry of Ubuntu-related posts at the moment, but some people are aware I've re-installed Ubuntu 7.10 because the upgrade path left me with a few features not set up correctly - and as such I'm in the process of putting things back the way they were.

Today, I'm going to be discussing Desktop Effects (courtesy of Compiz Fusion, which is usually enabled by default on nVidia (and a few other) graphics cards) which gives you a faster graphical interface, lots of sleek graphical effects (like fast desktop switching, transparencies, fade ins, fade outs, etc. as well as the illustrious 'wobbly windows' effect) However, with higher-spec ATI Radeon graphics cards (the criss-crossing leader of 3D graphics with nVidia), you find that when you try and turn on Desktop effects you get a nasty little pop-up telling you that your card doesn't do that.

Lies, all lies, I tell you! With a few simple steps you can get it going - and for the love of all things popular I can't understand why Canonical (developers of Ubuntu) didn't bother to detect your graphics card and install these if it spotted an ATI Radeon card, especially as it's so simple to sort.

NOTE: The following instructions will only work if you've installed the 'ristricted' proprietary graphics card drivers - you should be using them anyway as the open-source drivers in Ubuntu are currently pants. Oh, and also this is for Ubuntu 7.10, Gutsy Gibbon - other versions are a touch more tricky to get going.

This is what you do:

1) Go to System>>Administration>>Synaptic Package Manager (as in, follow the menu at the top of the screen through system, then Administration, then click on... you get the drift). You'll need to type in your administration (root) password as you are going into the guts.
2) Search (by either clicking Edit>>Search or hitting the Control+F keys) for xserver-xgl. When it appears, left-click the empty box on the left of the name and select 'Mark for Installation' from the drop-down list that appears.
3) Click the 'Apply' button (it's got a checkmark/tick on it).
4) Log-out or restart your computer - either way is good.
5) When you're logged-back in, go to System>>Preferences>>Appearance, choose the Visual Effects tab and select either Normal or Extra from the options.
6) Close that window and hey, presto! Desktop Effects!

Now, Ubuntu by default only allows you to select their sets of effects - so you can't install new effects or customise the effects used. If you wish to do that to, go back into the Synaptic Package Manager and install the compizconfig-settings-manager using the same principles as above. This adds an extra icon to the Visual Effects (called Custom) and adds 'Advanced Desktop Effects Settings' to the Preferences.

BE WARNED THOUGH - meddling with the effects or selecting a difficult one (like Reflect, apparently) can leave your computer very, very, very slow or almost unusable - so keep in mind that if you do anything to keep the settings window OPEN because else you'll be there for ages trying to turn the things back off again. This, I think, is the flaw with using xserver-XGL - it isn't quite as powerful as the default one.

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Blogger bma said...

I assume the reason that they don't do it by default is that it would require having two separate X servers installed - `xserver-xgl` is a replacement for `xserver-xorg`, not an extension of it. I don't know for certain, but it would seem a bit daft to have a whole second X server installed on every Ubuntu machine when it's only needed by a minority of users. Especially when it's become obsolete just days after the release.

Nice to see AMD/ATI are on the ball, though; I don't really care much about the fancy effects, but it's one more thing in their favour over NVidia.

12:51 pm


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