I'm a relatively new Ubuntu user (long-time Mac snob on my personal computers, though a Linux user at work). I have a newish Dell laptop which came with Ubuntu 16.04LTS installed. I find that the combination of compiz + multiple workspaces seems to hang a lot, especially when dragging windows between workspaces. This problem is bad enough that sometimes the only possible response seems to be the power button. Clearly, not a long-term solution. At other times, I've noticed that a terminal window seems to have focus and have been able to type "pkill -f compiz", which zaps and replaces the hung instance with a fresh one.

For the moment, I've disabled multiple workspaces and will see if that improves matters, but that's not a longer-term solution either. I'd much prefer virtual desktop support over a window manager which seems to hang with distressing regularity. How can I (permanently) replace compiz with another window manager? Just about anything would be fine, metacity, fvwm, etc. I'm sure there are plenty of window managers available, but don't know what they all are, or how to dump compiz.

Google hasn't been my friend so far. I did find a reference to running "metacity --replace", but that just hung the computer. Most searches seemed to turn up posts referencing older versions of Ubuntu which had somewhat different user interface bits, making it tough-ish to follow instructions.

Any pointers appreciated.

1 Answer 1


I had the same problem with Unity/Compiz workspaces... ie: dragging windows between workspaces causing a freeze.

I recently installed the GNOME (ubuntu-gnome-desktop) environment (as we're all going to GNOME in 17.10). With GNOME, the gdm3 display manager (be sure to select gdm3 over lightdm during the install), and the lack of compiz, workspaces work fine there. Highly recommended to fix your problem.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

Logout. When you get back to the login screen, click on the little Ubuntu icon next to the username, and select GNOME. Now login and you'll be in GNOME. Then reboot.

  • simply running this will get rid of the other? Jul 30, 2017 at 18:05
  • @George yes indeedy. Much more stable.
    – heynnema
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:08
  • Ok will update as I am waiting for Ubuntu 18.04. itching to have a piece of it! Jul 30, 2017 at 18:20
  • @George you don't have to wait for 18.04... it'll actually be in 17.10. Especially if you're going to primarily use Unity/Compiz, look up the 2 GNOME related questions that I posted, with answers, to get a heads up on possible problems. I originally installed GNOME to play with, but eventually switched over full time, esp so I could help early adopters here.
    – heynnema
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:27
  • @heynnema Thanks for the instructions. I successfully ran the apt-get commands, and must be running something different because the look changed somewhat. "pgrep -fl gdm" doesn't show gdm3, but lightdm. I must have responded incorrectly to the little ASCII GUI question. (I hit up-arrow to select gdm3, then hit RETURN to accept.) Also compiz is still running. How do I switch to gdm3 at this point, and really, truly dump compiz? Now, where did I put my garlic and that oaken stake?
    – smontanaro
    Jul 30, 2017 at 18:40

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