Monday, June 29, 2009

Compiz Fusion works in Virtual Machine running Ubuntu Karmic Koala

Something new about Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala that hasn't really been advertised as far as I've seen is that desktop compositing via Compiz Fusion is possible from inside of a virtual machine. I believe this is due to recent changes in the way the kernel handles video memory, though I'm not sure. I don't think it is particularly caused by the version of VirtualBox that I'm using because my Intrepid VM is still confined to a flat, ho-hum desktop. Regardless, it's big news for me because I am forced to work in Windows for the most part at my job, but I always have Ubuntu running in a VM for most of my Web browsing (no viruses).

All of the plugins I have tried have worked, though ones that require fading in and out can be slow. Static transparency seems to work fine, though, as is demonstrated by the terminal window in my video. Also, wobbly windows and the desktop cube work swimmingly.

If you have any input on why Compiz suddenly works within the VM, please let me know.


Wildfire said...

Actually I do think this has everything to do with VirtualBox. They started to support OpenGL for guests some time ago, the current Version (3.0.2) even has experimental support for Direct3D. If the VM did not offer 3D capabilities to guests, how do you suppose they make use of the graphic card present in the host? The guest cannot override the VM, meaning it has no direct access to your hardware and thus to 3D unless the VM somehow emulates it. My best guess is guest additions for Karmic now offer composition support that works with the emulated graphics card.

Hunter K. said...

I guess I was unclear in my statement: you're definitely correct that all OpenGL acceleration is due to a feature in VirtualBox; I just meant that compositing became usable following an update to the OS and not from an update to the VM software.

Likewise, it would not be due to a change in the guest additions, since those are only changed when VirtualBox itself is updated.

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