The Linux Moderate

One Man Standing Up for Computers That Get Work Done

Transparency in XFCE

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You know all those impressive transparent effects that Windows Vista can’t do unless you buy it a new computer? You can have some of the same neato stuff running on a computer with a sticker that says “Built for Windows 98.” Xubuntu, or PC/OS, or any other distribution that uses the XFCE desktop will do it for you.

Here’s how you set up transparent effects in Xubuntu (actually, I’m using PC/OS at the moment, but the instructions are exactly the same):

  1. From the main menu, choose Settings, then Settings Manager.
  2. Click on Window Manager Tweaks.
  3. Click on the Compositor tab.
  4. Check the box for Enable display compositing.
  5. Move the bars to choose what you want to be transparent and how transparent you want it. I’ve just set inactive windows to be about halfway transparent.
Setting transparency in Xubuntu or PC/OS.
Setting transparency in Xubuntu or PC/OS.

(You’ll notice, by the way, that I’ve tweaked PC/OS considerably since I reviewed it. I even fixed the incorrect indefinite article in the main menu.)

And now here’s an example of why transparency might not be such a good idea after all:

The GIMP; or, Why I Turned Off Transparency.
The GIMP; or, Why I Turned Off Transparency.

In the GIMP, everything you work with is a separate window. Here I am trying to adjust the contrast of a picture that turns transparent every time I touch the Brightness-Contrast window.

Still, it’s fun to show off transparency on a nine-year-old computer and blow a big fat raspberry in the general direction of Redmond.


Written by cbaile19

July 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm

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