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Ubuntu eye candy - keyboard shortcuts to get the effects going

As you know, Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon (7.10, if you must know) comes with Compiz which gives you all manner of desktop eye candy but it's a bit of a pain to find out how to use them. Loads of advice about how to turn them on etc but then how do you rotate the cube? Let me tell you ...

First you need to turn on the effects you want and that's a two step process:
  1. Tell Ubuntu to use the fancy effects
    1. System -> Preferences -> Appearance
    2. Visual Effects tab
    3. Custom
  2. Tell Compiz which effects to use
    1. System -> Preferences -> Advanced Desktop Effects Settings
    2. Choose away to merry hearts content (Forlong's blog posting is a good read to help)
Some aren't that obvious until you try them - I suggest an evenings playing to find the ones that make you smile. I love the Cube (with reflections), Shift Switcher and Expo - try them to see how brilliant they are.

And when you do try all this cool stuff think back to the old Windows XP days and wonder at how basic and very out of date it now all seems. And if you think you need to have some flash new and super sized PC/computer don't forget that my hardware hasn't been upgraded at all; yet with this new experience we all feel that we are computing in this millennium! Install Ubuntu, you really will wonder why it took you so long to change.

Most of the effects don't need much explanations - wobbly windows just happens when you move windows around. Some though are a little harder to work and after a wee search I've discovered the following key combinations that'll have you squealing with delight.

Oh, before we go on, the "Super" key is the "Windows" key on my PC ... it'll probably something similar on yours. And, the hints were culled from Ubuntu Tutorials and HowtoForge - thanks to both the authors and commenters.

Workspaces and windows
  • Expo (try it to see): SUPER+E
  • Cube:
    • Rotate: CTRL+ALT+arrowkey or CTRL+ALT+drag left mouse
    • Unfold: CTRL+ALT+DOWN
  • Switcher
    • Window: ALT+TAB
    • Flip or Ring, depending on which is enabled: SUPER+TAB
    • initiate window picker: SHIFT+ALT+UP
  • Zoom in: SUPER+mousewheel
  • Window transparency: hover over window - ALT+mousewheel
  • initiate 'move windows': ALT+F7
  • Slow animations: SHIFT+F10
  • Show desktop: CTRL+ALT+D
Effects for effects sake
  • Draw: SUPER+ALT+drag left mouse - I don't know how to clear yet!?!?
  • Water effect: SHIFT+F9 (toggle) - doesn't work for me though :-(
  • Fire:
    • Draw: SUPER+SHIFT+drag left mouse
    • Clear: SUPER+SHIFT+C
Windows grouping and tabbing
  • SUPER+S = select single window
  • SUPER+T = tab group
  • SUPER+Left = change left tab
  • SUPER+Right = change right tab
  • SUPER+G = group windows
  • SUPER+U = ungroup windows
  • SUPER+R = remove group window
  • SUPER+C = close group
  • SUPER+X = ignore group
Hold the SUPER button then select the windows you want to group and then hit SUPER+G

And to top it all off I've now got AWN (Avant Window Navigator) running as my fancy dancy, MacOS-type app launcher thingymajig. In essence, the wee computer has turned into something that can look and behave (but not sound, thank frig) like this:

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