One ring to rule them all … xcompmgr, transset-df and 3ddesktop

So you got Openbox rolling on your machine, you got xcompmgr working and the effects tweaked just the way you like them, transset-df is compiled and functioning, and you tied your transparency to your mouse wheel and/or key bindings. What’s the final sparkle?

A year ago (actually about 15 months, if memory serves), before Beryl and before Compiz, 3ddesktop was a popular toy. It doesn’t compare to a full-scale Beryl rig with all the bells and whistles, but it’s light enough not to need extraordinary hardware and easy enough to set up that it doesn’t need much explanation.

Under Openbox, the keybindings are practically set up for you. Install the 3ddesktop package, and edit ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml, adding the 3ddesk command where you want the keystroke.

I put it in for the CTRL+ALT+RIGHT and CTRL+ALT+LEFT keys; I’m actually more inclined to switch desktops with the mouse wheel, so binding the 3ddesktop effect to the keyboard means I can switch panels quickly with the wheel, or casually with the keyboard.

As a side note, there are a lot of flags you can add; it’s worth looking at 3ddesk --help to see what’s available. The configuration file is in /etc/3ddesktop/3ddesktop.conf.

But as you can see in the screenshots, all the window effects and transparency hold over from xcompmgr to 3ddesktop. So the net effect is … pretty cool. :D

The sad part is, you really, really have to meet a minimum hardware requirement to do this. My spunky little 300Mhz laptop can handle xcompmgr and transset-df, but 3ddesktop is an impossibility for it since it doesn’t handle GLX. I can’t guarantee it’ll work on your machine; install it and start it with the 3ddesk command from a terminal window. If you get error messages, it won’t work. Sorry. :(

Additionally, it is a bit more taxing than xcompmgr alone. In fact, running all three together is rather burdensome. It doesn’t seem as all-encompassing as the entire Beryl package, but it’s still going to keep your graphics card buzzing.

(I get a slight lag on this 1Ghz machine with a 64Mb Geforce4 at 1600×1200; I will mention that this setup will run Beryl as well, with about the same amount of effort.)

All told it’s a great way to spruce up (and show off) Openbox, without sacrificing your minimalist principles to the Gnome/KDE/Beryl juggernaut. Happy tweaking!

P.S.: If you’re sitting in a eye-candy induced reverie, admiring your lovely 3ddesktop array and suddenly it starts to spazz out, spinning wildly and uncontrollably … that’s not a mistake. That’s what we, in the old days of arcade and video games, used to call attract mode. Suffice to say 3ddesktop is entertaining itself with screensaverish behavior. Do not adjust your TV set. Remain calm. All is well.

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4 Responses to “One ring to rule them all … xcompmgr, transset-df and 3ddesktop”


  1. 1 chris4585 2008/05/13 at 2:21 PM

    Good post K.Mandla, I setup 3ddesktop with openbox. I haven’t setup my rc.xml yet, but I’m gonna mess with it a little. The only bad thing I see in this for me, is that I have to use my nvidia driver, which is alright, but without the driver enabled things just look better, I can’t set my resolution the same with my driver enabled as I would without it. Its still very usable though considering I setup my desktop from command line install. One question how do you get the sides to not be grey? screenshot http://i30.tinypic.com/i27jfa.jpg

  2. 2 chris4585 2008/05/13 at 3:10 PM

    Ah, never mind I fixed it, this is very nice. It took me forever to figure out in the rc.xml I had to look under context menu for mouse binds xD

  3. 3 chris4585 2008/05/13 at 3:11 PM

    desktop contex I meant, I meant, I hate how you can’t edit your reply :/


  1. 1 More stuff you can, but shouldn’t, do « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/08/22 at 9:05 PM

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