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when I execute wmctrl -m I get the following output

spv@matrix:(~)$ wmctrl -m
Name: Compiz
Class: N/A
PID: N/A
Window manager's "showing the desktop" mode: OFF

Why is my "showing the desktop" mode OFF, and what difference does it make if it is ON.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is a mode where windows are hidden and just the desktop is shown - see the "_NET_SHOWING_DESKTOP" hint on the EWMH page at freedesktop.org: http://standards.freedesktop.org/wm-spec/wm-spec-1.3.html#id2731380

so, something you would typically want off.

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