Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When I'm reading ebooks, I find it quite useful to blank out everything except the reader. On the Mac, I use Backdrop to achieve this. What this app does is blank out everything (wallpaper, desktop icons, etc) apart from any on-screen windows. Is there a program that does this for Ubuntu?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Dimming non-active Windows with Compiz

In case we run Compiz (by enabling Visual Effects in System->Preferences->Appearance) we have a nice feature that lets you dim anything but the active windows to any desired value.

With the following packages installed (default from >= 11.04):

  • compizconfig-settings-manager install ccsm
  • compiz-fusion-plugins-extra install ccsm

you will have access to control Compiz settings by running System -> Preferences -> CompizConfig Settings Manager.

Choose Accessibility: ADD Helper

enter image description here

Open Tab "Misc.Options:

enter image description here

and push the slider for brightness to the desired value (here depicted for 20).

share|improve this answer
Thanks for that, but I appear to be missing this plugin. Is it perhaps new in 10.10? I'm running 10.04. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 14 '11 at 23:23
Never mind, I just had to install compiz-fusion-plugins-extra. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 14 '11 at 23:28
I included this valuable additional information, thanks – Takkat Apr 15 '11 at 6:21

Check out the ADD Helper Compiz plugin. Install compizconfig-settings-manager package to access the controls for it.

share|improve this answer
Voting up @Takkat's answer for having pictures. :D – Ben Preston Apr 14 '11 at 20:20
Voting up @Ben Preston's answer for having links :P – Takkat Apr 14 '11 at 20:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.