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X.org 6.8RC4, a simple guide

How to get a X.org setup on Gento Linux

By GweeDo767

While I used postings on forums.gentoo.org to get my X.org setup going, I thought I would put together a simple guide here to make life easier for anyone that wanted it easier.

This guide is going to show you how to get X.org 6.8RC4 up and running on Linux (the emphasis will be on using Gentoo, but it should work on any other Linux distro as well).

Step One) Getting the latest X.org We of course can't possible doing anything if we are missing X.org. To obtain this in Gentoo is very simple:

  echo "x11-base/xorg-x11" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords
  emerge =xorg-x11-6.7.99.904

Once X.org is done building you will be ready to get started using it. If you previously used X.org then your config file at "/etc/X11/xorg.conf" will be used. If you are a XFree86 user moving over then it will automatically load your "/etc/X11/XF86Config" but I would recommend renaming it to xorg.conf for consistancy.

To launch X.org simply do you as you always would with X:

startx

Now the great thing is you are already getting some of the advantages of the new X.org without evening changing any config's. You are now using XDamage which should make drawing your screen more efficient than ever (it will be nice when apps have native support for this). You of course are also getting some bug fixes and what not along the way. While that is nice, we of course want MORE MORE MORE! So lets get more.

Step Two) Setting up X Composite Extension This step is very simple (and holds true for any linux distro). First you need to open your xorg.conf:

nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

(note: relace nano with your favorite editor) Then you need to add the following to the file (top or bottom of the file, it doesn't matter)

  Section "Extensions"
  Option "Composite" "Enable"
  Option "RENDER" "Enable"
  EndSection

Now next time you restart X.org it will have the Composite Extension enabled. This extension allows for all drawing to occur on an offscreen buffer first, then it is blitted to the actual framebuffer when all drawing is done. This allows for flicker free rendering and some other cool effects (like real transparency and shadows...which are next!). To ensure this extension was loaded simply look for the following in your /var/log/Xorg.0.log.

  (II) Initializing built-in extension COMPOSITE

Step Three) Enabling shadows and real transperency Now it is time for the pay off, it is time for some eye candy! Since this is such a new release the popular windows managers don't have native support for these new features yet (though they will). So for now we will use two special tools to enable our effects. First we need to obtain xcompmgr.

  echo "x11-misc/xcompmgr" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords
  echo x11-misc/xcompmgr >> PATHTOPORTAGE/profiles/packages.unmask
  emerge =xcompmgr-0.1_pre20040821-r1

(note: we had to add "x11-misc/xcompmgr" to the packages.unmask file since it is a very "beta" application and considered unstable. But don't worry, you can turn xcompmgr off and on as you like so it won't hurt anything).

After getting xcompmgr we need to obtain "transset".

  echo "x11-misc/transset" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords
  echo x11-misc/transset >> PATHTOPORTAGE/profiles/packages.unmask
  emerge =transset-0.1_pre20040821

At this point we have all we need to enabled drop shadows, cool "fade out" effects and real transperency. First we need to launch xcompmgr. From a console inside of X.org do this:

  xcompmgr -c &

This will enable xcompmgr with "soft" drop shadows turned on. You should know have happy little drop shadows on all your windows. You could optionally use the -s flag instead for "harsh" shadows as I call them (they are ugly if you ask me.

Next week need some see through windows! Do this in the same console: transset

Now your cursor will have changed, simply click on the window you want to make see through. You can also pass transset a value to define how transparent to make the windows. Try: transset .2

(note: 0 = fully see through, 1 = no transparency)

To get a window back simply run transset again and click on the opaque window. When it is all said and done you might have something looking like this:

To disable all of this after you have got it going simply type this in a console:

  killall xcompmgr

This will turn xcompmgr off and disable all drop shadows and transperency settings.

This is only the beginning of what we will see from X.org 6.8. As Windows Managers and applications start making full use of the new tools we won't even need these things like transset to get these great features. We will also see apps that can use transperency and such intelligently (like why make my whole konsole window transparenent...how about only the content window?). I personally am really looking forward to what is to come!

Special Notes: If you are using an Nvidia graphics card and using the Nvidia drivers you will want to add this to the Device section of your xorg.conf:

  Option "RenderAccel" "true"

You will get a noticable speed increase when using this along with the Composite Extension.

If you have anything I need to add to this article please email me.

By GweeDo767

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