Metacity as a compositing manager

Remco remco47 at
Tue Feb 10 00:25:09 UTC 2009

On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 12:03 AM, Christopher James Halse Rogers
<chalserogers at> wrote:
> The characterisation of Compiz as just about shiny effects is wrong.
> The default plugin set also provides a better _window manager_ than
> Metacity in many ways.

I wouldn't know about that last claim. Metacity doesn't have all the
useful features of Compiz, but it does work a lot better. While pure
compositing actions such as Alt+Tab may be faster on Compiz (I don't
notice any difference), the applications themselves are a lot slower.
Have you ever tried resizing a window in Compiz? Metacity is much
smoother. Also, Compiz is different with regards to snapping windows.
That's a very subtle difference, but combined with the slow resizing,
it makes the desktop feel a lot harder to manipulate.

Switching between non-composited and composited Metacity is also a
smoother transition. One, it doesn't take too long for the desktop to
come up again (though it should really be as seamless as in Windows
Vista). But what's more important: everything still works the same.
It's just slightly more beautiful and useful.

Would you recommend switching from Compiz to Metacity when your laptop
goes from AC to batery power? That's not a pretty sight. While
Metacity doesn't do this perfectly seamlessly either, at least it's
relatively fast, and it doesn't mess up your window positions.

The ideal solution would be for Metacity (or the appropriate Gnome
app) to implement some of the features that Compiz provides. Scale,
Animations and the Desktop Wall come to mind. Animations may sound
like a useless eye-candy thing, but when done subtly, it just provides
more clues as to where objects are moving toward. Right now, for
example, even compositing Metacity shows some kind of black rectangle
effect when minimizing. That doesn't fit with the nicely shaded

Bottom line: the core of Metacity is just a lot better than that of
Compiz. Compiz has the advantage of a huge amount of plugins. But I
don't see why Metacity couldn't get plugins itself.

Does anyone know if there is any development going on with Metacity's
compositing mode (or the appropriate Gnome app)?


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