Beryl On Ubuntu Edgy

The New Users Guide to Beryl

This guide is intended to give first time users a chance to get comfy with using beryl in their day to day lives. This is not a complete list of every keybindings and option in Beryl, nor is it an install guide. If you have not yet got beryl running, check by the wiki, which has install guides for many different distributions of linux. We will start with general options then move into general plugin usage and finally end with a couple performance tweaks.

General Options

The very first thing a user needs to learn how to do is to open the Beryl Settings Manager either with a terminal ('beryl-settings') or by using beryl-manager and selecting Beryl Settings Manager in its menu. This will open BSM to the general options page. Unless you have a multi-monitor setup, most of the options under "Choices" should be left as default. Under Numeric Values you can set the number of viewports you have by changing the Horizontal Virtual Size. Keybindings to launch commands can also be set in here.

Viewport Navigation

There are several options for navigating viewports in Beryl. The easiest to work with is scrolling your mouse wheel on the desktop. This will cause the cube to rotate. You can also use your keyboard to rotate the cube with Ctrl+Alt+Left/Right Arrow. Or if you wish to view the cube for a bit, Ctrl+Alt+Left Mouse will allow you to manually rotate around the cube using your mouse. These three methods provide the basic ways to navigate around your desktop.

Working With Windows

Shading Windows

There are many things Beryl can do with your windows. In fact, this is one of the primary functions of Beryl. You will find that a lot of Beryl's features already match how you used your desktop before, but a couple new features are present. One of the most useful is the ability to shade windows, or minimize them into their own titlebar. You can do this either by scrolling your mouse wheel on the titlebar (emerald only) or by simply pressing Ctrl+Alt+S to shade the focused window.


Real time window effects are fun and useful...

Setting Transparency, Brightness, and Saturation

It is not terribly difficult to set any of these three settings on any window. To set the opacity of a window, simple use Alt+Scrollwheel, this will increase/decrease the opacity of a window 10% at a time. Ctrl+Scrollwheel can be used to set the saturation of a window and Shift+Scrollwheel set the brightness of a window.

Negative Windows

Negative windows are an inverse image of what you would normally see, white is black, red is kinda blue, and overall the whole thing is often easier on the eyes. To make a single window negative press Super+n or for the whole screen press Super+m. The super key if you are wondering is your "Windows" key.

Moving Windows

I know it sounds like a no brainer, but there are some cool new features for moving windows around. You can of course move windows by dragging the titles bar and they will wobble as they are moved, but you can also hold Alt+Left Mouse and drag windows from any point. Or you can use Super+Numpad to move a window anywhere on your screen. The corners of the numpad correspond to the corners of the screen.

Special Effects


Scale out all your windows to get a thumbnail birds eye view of your desktop...

The Scale Effect

The scale effect organizes your windows in a tiles thumbnail format making it easier to find and pick the one you want. It is one of the most feature packed plugins of Beryl. There are 4 ways to initiate scale. The quickest way is to simply slam your mouse into the top right corner of your screen which will scale all windows from all viewports. You can also do this by pressing F8. F9 can be used to scale all windows on the current viewport, and F7 to scale all windows from a current application on the current viewport, such as all terminal windows. While in scale you can use the right mouse button to zoom in and inspect a window. When you are done right click again to zoom back out. If you middle click on a window while zoomed it will close the application. Icons can also be dragged and dropped via scale using the hot corner initiation method.

The Water Effect

This one is purely for show. Press and hold Ctrl+Super to give your mouse a water trail. You can also start a "raining" effect on your desktop simply by pressing Shift+F9. This effect will not work on video cards without pixel shaders.

The Alt+Tab Switcher

The switcher effect can be started, obviously enough, by pressing Alt+Tab or Alt+Ctrl+Tab to view windows on all viewports. These are live previews you see, so if a movie is playing, you will see it playing in there. The switcher has a variable zoom that can be set in BSM.

Zoom In

You can zoom in on your windows to see whats going on. Hold down the super button and scroll your mouse wheel to zoom in. You can still interact with your windows while zoomed in. One word of caution however, do not play with the settings for input zoom as some of them still have nasty side effects.

Window Decorators

When it comes to this part of Beryl there are three choices. Emerald, Heliodor, and Aquamarine are all available, however chances are you only have Emerald or, Emerald and Heliodor installed. Both decorators work fine, emerald is themed via the emerald theme manage via the beryl-manager icon. Heliodor is themed the same way Metacity themes were set, and Aquamarine is themed just like KWin themes. The point of the decorators is to give you the window borders people are so used to. You can switch window decorators by clicking on the beryl manager (the red gem in your notification area) and going to "Select Window Decorator". Gnome users should use either Emerald or Heliodor while KDE users should use either Emerald or Aquamarine.

Performance Tweaks

Fewer Bits Move Faster

AIGLX users of the i810 driver may find that they get better performance out of Beryl if they set their xservers default depth in their xorg.conf to 16. This will result in some stepping on gradients but is generally acceptable for most everything else.

Broken Frame Limiter

Beryl's internal frame limiter is busted, we know this, stop submitting bug reports about it. However it does cause some performance issues. Some users report that their overall performace goes up if they uncheck "Detect Refresh Rate" in General Options and set the Refresh Rate numerical value to 200.{mospagebreak}



>Linux for Human Beings - Howto Install
Ubuntu is a free, open source Linux-based operating system that starts with the breadth of Debian and adds regular releases (every six months), a clear focus on the user and usability (it should "Just Work", TM) and a commitment to security updates with 18 months of support for every release (and with 6.06 LTS you get 3 years on the desktop and 5 on the server!). Ubuntu ships with the latest GNOME release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off a single installation CD.{mospagebreak}

Install Beryl on Ubuntu Edgy with XGL and ATI

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Notice that this a first beta version of the automatic ATI+XGL+Beryl installation based on the Nvidia script, you SHOULD NOT use it in a stable environment.


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Automatic installation

The following instructions have been tested successfully on an updated base Ubuntu installation, using a ATI 9600 XT video card (though it should work with all other cards supported by the ATI driver).

Be SURE to close Synaptic Package Manager or the install will fail and Beryl will not work. You will need to run the script again if that happens.



The automatic installation will:

  • Perform all necessary steps to install Beryl with no user input needed while the script is running;
  • Install the latest stable ATI drivers
  • Run aticonfig to configure /etc/X11/xorg.conf; and
  • Disable Composite extension.
  • Install XGL server
  • Create a XGL launcher
  • Create a new session option for XGL
  • Create a Desktop icon for beryl-manager
  • Add menu item into Applications:Accessories
  • Automatically start beryl for each user.



Creating the script

Open a terminal. Execute:

gedit ./beryl-install-script

Now, copy and paste the following script into the window:

if [ $UID -gt 0 ]; then
echo "You must run this script as root.";
# Backup your source list and your xorg.conf
cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.backup.beryl-script
cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup.beryl-script
# Add and install latest ATI binary drivers repository
echo "deb binary/" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
wget -O- | apt-key add -
aptitude -y update && aptitude -y install linux-restricted-modules-$(uname -r) xorg-driver-fglrx
# Autoconfigure your current xorg.conf
sudo depmod -a
aticonfig --initial
aticonfig --overlay-type=Xv
echo "Section \"Extensions\"
Option \"Composite\" \"0\"
EndSection" >> /etc/X11/xorg.conf
# Add and install latest beryl and xgl packages
echo "deb edgy main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
wget email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -O- | apt-key add -
aptitude -y update && aptitude -y dist-upgrade
aptitude -y install xserver-xgl beryl emerald emerald-themes
# Now we create a XGL launcher and a session menu entry to start gnome with XGL
echo "#!/bin/sh
Xgl :1 -fullscreen -ac -accel xv:pbuffer -accel glx:pbuffer &
exec gnome-session" >> /usr/bin/
chmod +x /usr/bin/
echo "[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Start an Xgl Session
Type=Application" >> /usr/share/xsessions/xgl.desktop
# We create an desktop icon and a menu entry, also add beryl-manager to startup programs
echo "[Desktop Entry]
Name=Beryl Manager
GenericName=3D Window Manager
Comment=Beryl Manager daemon
X-Ubuntu-Gettext-Domain=beryl-manager" > /etc/xdg/autostart/beryl-manager.desktop
cp /etc/xdg/autostart/beryl-manager.desktop /usr/share/applications/beryl-manager.desktop
cp /etc/xdg/autostart/beryl-manager.desktop ~/Desktop/beryl-manager.desktop
echo -e "\n\nBeryl is now installed.\n\nTo run Beryl on Ubuntu startup, please add beryl-manager
to your\nstartup programs (System > Preferences > Sessions, and click on\nthe \"startup programs\" tab).
Afterwards, please reboot and select \"Options - Sessions - gnome-gxl\" in the login menu to start Ubuntu with
XGL.\n\nBackups of /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/X11/xorg.conf were made:\n
/etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup\n\n If you see a ugly gnome in the XGL session
add gnome-settings-daemon to the startup programs as you did with beryl-manager before"

Subsequently, save the file and close gedit.


Running the script

Run the following commands:

chmod +x ./beryl-install-script
sudo ./beryl-install-script

The script will then perform all the necessary functions to perform the installation of Beryl. Do not close the terminal while the script is running, or in any other way interrupt the script.



In general, it is not a good idea to rerun the script after the initial execution. Thus, you should remove it:

rm ./beryl-install-script



Removing the autostart

Single User

Open a terminal. Execute:


Click on the "Startup Programs" tab and select "beryl-manager" then subsequently click "disable."

or from the menu

System > Preferences > Sessions

Click on the "Startup Programs" tab and select "beryl-manager" then subsequently click "disable."


All Users

Open a terminal. Execute:

sudo rm /etc/xdg/autostart/beryl-manager.desktop



Xgl & Beryl on Kubuntu Dapper w/ Nvidia

Howto: Install XGL & Beryl on Dapper w/ nVidia using apt-get