Kubuntu 3D Desktop Cube – Linux can be pretty

I recently installed Kubuntu on my MacBook Pro, to triple-boot alongside Mac OSX and Windows 7. Kubuntu is the operating system I use the most, and one that arguably looks the prettiest. Unfortunately, enabling such beauty isn’t as straight forward as ticking some boxes. This may deter some, but hopefully this guide will help you along the way. The 3D Desktop Cube is an awesome way to navigate around your multiple desktops. I use four, but you can enable six to use all sides of the cube.

OPENGL graphics drivers

The 3D Desktop Cube works via OPENGL graphics. When you install vanilla Kubuntu, the default drivers do not have the necessary libraries to fully enable the graphics capability of your card. The first port of call is to get the latest drivers, such as the NVIDIA website or the ATI/AMD website depending on what you have. In my case, my MacBook Pro has the NVIDIA 8600M GT. To install the drivers, you need to be outside of X Server/KDE daemon; the easiest way is to boot into recovery mode to get the terminal only. Full instructions on how to install are outlined by NVIDIA.


Next you need to install a package called Compiz. This will allow you to enable settings for the Desktop Cube amongst other things. You should be able to find it if you do a search in KPackageKit. You will need compiz and compiz-fusion.

You can also do an apt-get to grab the packages you need as outlined here, with the following commands:

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-kde compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra emerald librsvg2-common

Now go into System Settings > Desktop Effects > All Effects. This will bring up a plethora of options for you to enable including the Desktop Cube. And that is pretty much it! If you get stuck, refer to the links I posted above which will guide you through some of the steps in more detail.

I made a quick video below to show you what the cube will look like. Also, if you want to know more about how I did the triple-boot on my MacBook Pro, head on over to my personal blog to find out!

About Motoko

First embraced the inner geek at the age of 10 with a Commodore 64 and programming in BASIC. Avid PC gamer, Gundam Gunpla builder, manga editor and anime enthusiast. Loves Mountain Dew and Ghost in the Shell. Twitter: @Motoko_K

4 thoughts on “Kubuntu 3D Desktop Cube – Linux can be pretty

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  2. Is there a way to get 3D cube without compiz? Can I use Kwin?
    Currently I run Kubu 10.10 (11.04 went nuts on my eeepc 1015 pem.. with Intel GMA 3150 I know but still is a 1.5 dual core 2gb ram and it should do the trick… Kwin gave me messages on how slow effects were in desktop mode and than everithing stopped.. forever.. tried desabling Blur, nothing, all ok, working in GL, all ticked properly in Settings, apparently, just can't find 3d cube ..only desktop cube and desktop cube animation, ..desk effects are on ), not particular issues to report but the fact that although the cube is working switching desktops I can't zoom out and see the 3d as I did with compiz on Ubu , ctrl+Alt+mouse (which I had to give up.. compiz and all the docks I tried on drove me crazy… too many issues.. it's Linux so , it should be easier). It seems that I can't even find Kwin in the repo through synaptic pm (downloaded through Kpackagekit.. where btw I can't find KWin..??!) .
    Does anyone have a suggestion? It seems that there are fewer sources in Kubu than Ubu and I am new with Linux.

    • Hi Donald. I used Compiz because I could not get the KWin to register the cube at all. Even if you install the graphics drivers to enable the OpenGL and then tick the boxes to enable the cube it still wouldn’t work properly without Compiz managing in the background. No KWin? I believe that is installed by default as the main manager, as nothing is installed and Compiz is extra via apt-get or KPackagekit. In terms of resources, K/Ubuntu pretty much have the same repositories with of course more Gnomey/Kuby bits for certain things for each distro. What I found was, the basic methods in Ubuntu will work in K as well, however it seems in your case your OpenGL is not working 100%. To be honest, the Intel GMA internal graphics isn’t really cut out for stuff like this regardless of what processor or RAM you have. The OpenGL is handled by the card/graphics chip and the processor isn’t going to help much with the rendering.

      Have you tried installing Natty? I have to warn you, that when I did this I had to update my NVIdia drivers because X wouldn’t load. There were changes made to graphics modules etc. but the new drivers worked fine. I’m not sure if I had all these docks you mentioned, I have things quite minimalist on mine.