Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Having Issues with Ubuntu Visual Effects?

I have been experiencing issues activating Ubuntu visual effects on my laptop. I installed Ubuntu Gutsy on my laptop few months back (yes, I'm yet to upgrade to Ubuntu Hardy) and it works fine except that it never allowed me to turn the visual effects on. I have seen these visual effects in action on other computers and they are really exciting. I quite haven't seen anything similar even in the Windows world. So I badly wanted to use visual effects on my personal laptop but strangely it never allowed me. Whenever I tried to activate visual effects, Ubuntu gave me an error simply saying something like 'unable to turn visual effects on'. (wow! what a descriptive error message, isn't it?)

So after a bit of googling and reading some forum entries I managed to diagnose the problem. The issue was with my VGA card which is treated as 'blacklisted' by Linux. This particular type of VGA (Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller) is being used in a variety of laptops these days and hence I thought of blogging a bit about this and let the world know. If you don't know how to find the type of VGA in your computer simply enter the following command in a shell.
$ lspci | grep VGA
In order to find whether your VGA is blacklisted or not run the following command.
$ compiz --replace ccp &
If your VGA is blacklisted you will see something like this on the terminal.
[1] 6002
Checking for Xgl: not present
Blacklisted PCIID '8086:2a02' found
aborting and using fallback: /usr/bin/metacity
If this is the case you can do a simple override so that Linux won't care whether your VGA is blacklisted or not. Then you can turn the visual effects on and off at will. To perform the override run the following command. (this workaround has been tested on the above mentioned VGA only, so beware and attempt at your own risk!)
$ mkdir -p ~/.config/compiz; echo SKIP_CHECKS=yes >> ~/.config/compiz/compiz-manager
This will create a small configuration file named compiz-manager in the ~/.config/compiz directory. This file will instruct Linux to skip certain tests which cause the failures in turning the visual effects on.

And that's basically it. If you need more information please take a look at this forum post.

No comments: