Compiz represents one of the first compositing window managers for The X Window System using 3D graphics hardware. By means of the usage of 3D graphics hardware Compiz is able to create fast compositing desktop effects for window management. Those effects provoked, such as a minimization effect and a cube workspace, are implemented as so-called loadable plugins. Since Compiz adheres to the Inter-Client Communication Conventions Manual standard, it is able to substitute for the default Metacity in GNOME or KWin in KDE.
Compiz plugins offer the famous so-called “cube effect”, a special feature that is very similar to Exposé and Alt-Tab application-switching with live icons or previews. Besides the Composite extension to The X Window System is used, as is the OpenGL extension GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap. The first version of compositing window manager Compiz was released as free software / open source by Novell (SUSE) in January 2006.
Something absolutely worth mentioning is the merge of the Compiz and Beryl communities. On March 30, 2007 the discussions and negotiations between the Beryl, a fork of Compiz, and Compiz communities resulted in a fusion of the two communities. This merge led to two new software packages:
- Compiz, also called “Compiz-core”: This package consists only of the core functionality and the variety of base plugins.
- Compiz Fusion: This package includes the plugins, decorators, settings tools and related applications from both the Beryl and Compiz communities. Its main activity consists in installation, configuration and additional plugins which get added to the core functionalities of the first package.
Furthermore the discussions and negotiations also arrived at the agreement to fund a code review panel that consists of the best and most talented developers from each community. The chosen developers should notice that any code included in one of the two packages requires the highest standards and is convenient for distribution in a whole officially supported package.