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How can I use Unity 2d with another window manager besides Metacity? (like openbox forexample)

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By the way, has anyone filed bugs on metacity and compiz issues, regarding crashing and X unpredictably freezing? I know there are various flickering issues reported, one of at least is cronic. – user80546 Aug 1 '12 at 0:10
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can add compiz --replace to your startup applications. Restart your session (Log out, and then back in again) and you'll now be using Compiz.

A similar action will be used for openbox. I think it's openbox --replace

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To make changes permamnent, You'll have to edit unity session file. Here's short guide for Unity2d and openbox:

Install openbox:

  1. sudo apt-get install openbox
  2. Optionally install additional packages (in my case these were installed as dependencies): sudo apt-get install obconf openbox-themes
  3. Edit /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/2d-ubuntu.session file and replace:

    DefaultProvider-windowmanager=metacity with
  4. Logout, login (with Unity 2d session).
  5. Run obconf, choose some nice theme (my was found on and changed a little) and configure buttons position.
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The file is




at least with Precise.

Also, if you install Openbox and attempt to re-log in, there'll be an "Openbox/Gnome" desktop option in the log-in menu. I've chosen that and there is no weirdness (missing universal App menu and missing dock) as when I enter Openbox --replace from terminal running an Unity instance.

Logging in as suggested, seems to be running Openbox as a wm because my crashing and flickering issues (some?, all?) are gone, as when I run straight Openbox. Besides, what else would Openbox be doing but taking over windows manager responsibilities?

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Are you correcting another answer? – Mateo Sep 30 '12 at 2:58

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