5 Reasons Why Compiz Fusion is Crucial for Switchers

21 06 2009


note: in Linux Mint 7, Compiz Fusion is really just the Desktop Effects

Before making the jump to Linux Mint, I had read comments that Compiz Fusion, the application responsible for all the fancy graphical effects for most Linux desktop’s like Mint’s default GNOME, was a nice feature but unnecessary.

I beg to differ.

Some reasoned that the beauty of Linux was in the command line interface.  Well, with all due respect, I’m not signing up for that.  I don’t think I can run my spreadsheets or build a presentation deck on a computer that looked more like DOS.

Others argued that the graphical effects were distracting.  This is a reasonable point, as there are effects such as the Desktop Cube and Wobbly Windows that, in my opinion, is really just for showing off.

But after a painful week-long period of not having Compiz Fusion desktop effects enabled on my Mint 7 Thinkpad, I realized that the following were the main reasons why Compiz Fusion is critical for regular users like me:

  1. Window Picker. For those who’ve used OS X, this is just like the expose function.  It zooms out all the open windows on your desktop so you can pick out which window you want to go to.  It’s like scattering your workpaper on your table so you can organize yourself.  A significant improvement over the usual alt-tab app-switching function.
  2. Image Loading. I like seeing my JPEGs and TIFs as thumbnails before opening them.  Easier organization and saves me time.
  3. Zoom, zoom, zoom. Especially on a 12″ screen, the enhanced zoom desktop feature is really helpful to reduce strain on the eyes.  Or for zooming into pictures to quickly to spot an elusive detail.  Again, this feature is available for OS X and I am so glad it’s available on Compiz.
  4. Snapping windows. Simply helps me keep my windows within the desktop screen.  Especially when I’m dragging around 8 different office documents around the screen.
  5. The look and feel. I believe for most people, aesthetics plays a subtantial role in the overall user experience.  That’s why a lot of people love OS X.  That’s why Vista feels better (albeit slower) than XP.  That’s why I like my windows to fade and zoom out instead of seeing a choppy animation of black outlines when I minimize them.  Or why I like my viewports (AKA as virtual desktops or in OS X-speak, Spaces) to be shown to me just like they do in OS X. I think you get my point.

So if you’re a Mac or Windows user who is considering switching to Linux, don’t discount the utility of Compiz Fusion desktop effects!




One response

23 06 2009

It’s funny that most somewhat experienced GNU/Linux users believe that Compiz Fusion is just eyecandy, but you as a new user sees the practical benefits of Compiz. IMO Compiz is still under heavy development, and since I’m a KDE user, I use the native window manager kwin, which has similar effects like Compiz, but much faster. Desktop effects are also good for your eyes, because animations are much smoother than without effects. Especially in Gnome where you can see an ugly black border when you minimize/maximize the windows.

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