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I am using Ubuntu 11.10 Unity with activated default theme Ambiance. My problem here is that there are no shadows visible for any window. I tried to enable them using gconf-edit, but that did not work for me.

After googling a little more, I found out, that these Compiz values get overridden or are ignored by Unity. So I tried to edit the file /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml, but that did not help either.

Any suggestions are welcome, because my desktop looks rather messy with a few windows open. It's hard to distinguish between windows without visible shadows.

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Are you using Unity2D? Does your graphics hardware support Unity, and do you have any necessary proprietary drivers installed? Window shadows require Compiz, and do not show up in Unity2D. – Adrian Jan 14 '12 at 20:39
No, I am not using Unity 2D. I think my graphics card should handle shadows fine, it's an Intel HD 2000. When using another OS the desktop effects never cause any problems. What I should mention is, that I am running Ubuntu as a virtual machine. But other effects like tranparency or moving windows fast do not cause any problems. Also i checked the "Accelerate 3D graphics" option for this virtual machine (VMware). – Pratzelwurm Jan 14 '12 at 20:56

I used the Unity-2D Settings tool but got no window shadows. I tried then to find something in the gconf-edit tool that could be the cause.

In the /apps/metacity/general I noticed that the compositing-manager key was on, but the compositing-effects key was off.

Enabling it gave me the shadows!

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