What is the difference between the built in compositor with Marco and Compton?

For some reason, I have had a significant improvement in screen tearing issues when using Compton ( https://github.com/chjj/compton ) rather than using the bundled compositor with Marco.

Martin Wimpress explicitly states that the bundled compositor is a software compositor ( https://youtu.be/jxFMtOl_DyQ?t=36 ).

However, a discussion on IRC in the MATE-channel seems to indicate that the compositor is using xrender (https://github.com/mate-desktop/marco/blob/master/src/compositor/compositor-xrender.c#L885 ) which will use the GPU if the GPU is powerful enough.

So now, I am a little confused about what this compositor is doing, is it using the GPU? If it is using the same code as Compton, why does Compton seem to solve the screen tearing issues so well? Is it because Compton has the option to use glx and a variety of switches that make for a more optimal experience? Some clarification would be appreciated.

Finally, what are the chances that Compton will be integrated into Ubuntu-MATE?

Marco is a software compositor. Compton can do software or hardware compositing. I’ll investigate including Compton, no promises. But Compiz is included and will also resolve screen tearing and one of the principal reasons I included it :grinning:

Thank you for your reply. I suppose for the moment I will stick with Compton. Compiz is a bit too snazzy for my ultrabook, and getting the multiple plugins configured is a major chore.

Ubuntu MATE comes with a sane Compiz configuration for MATE. No tweaking required and runs on my really old laptops :slight_smile:

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Thank you Martin, but there are too many issues with Compiz. For example, I haven’t found a simple way to hit Alt-Tab and switch Windows without throwing all of them around in the Ring/Shelf switcher etc. Application Switcher and Static Application switcher work only with Mouse buttons. Viewports and Workspaces lead to infinite fragmentation if I ever have switch back to Marco. Which I have to and then Compiz will ask a thousand questions and gets confused with Presentation mode in Impress.

I know this is getting ranty…but for a portable on-the-go work machine, Compiz is really too much. I do appreciate you efforts in getting it to work right in MATE.

@drvortex Could you please describe each of those issues you have with Compiz in more detail and also describe what you think the desired behaviour should be? Please be as specific so I can recreate the issues and try to find a solution :slight_smile:

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I am using Ubuntu MATE on an old ThinkPad T61 with Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M (with latest proprietary drivers) and had lots of issues with Firefox tearing, jerkiness, VLC artifacting, flickering etc using Marco.

Compiz is way too heavy and slowed the whole desktop down and I dont want unnecessary eyecandy, all I need is no tearing and smooth screen movement without graphical issues. The flashing flickering I got with marco and fullscreen VLC was really headache-inducing.

So I decided to have a go at Compton and its just what I was after, smooth vsynced desktop without any flickering and no graphical issues. Highly recommended! :grin: Takes a bit of configuring but referencing the manual its easy as pie.

And thanks to Compton I can also get Redshift to work with VDPAU in VLC. No more eyestrain when watching videos. :smile:

I’ve switched to Ubuntu Mate recently and I have an issue with Marco and VLC: if I play multiple videos in fullscreen, the VLC overlay gets broken when switching to the second video (looks like the player doesn’t see that a new video is playing, the timer stays at “–:--”, then the overlay gets invisible, which is pretty unusable). It doesn’t happen with Compiz but I dislike Compiz (because it’s too cumbersome and I really don’t like the way it handles virtual desktops which is not really compatible with the Gnome 2/Mate panel applet).
Not sure it’s a bug in Marco, in VLC, or specific to my setup (I have an ATI/AMD GPU and use Mesa driver).

So, I’ve disabled compositing in Mate Tweak and I’m currently running Compton, which seems to run fine.

It would be really nice to add native Compton support, i.e. adding it in the Mate Tweak as a third choice besides Marco/Compiz.

I confirm that Compton works beautifully when set up like this - config file. Takes 2 mins to set up. Remember to switch off Marco with Mate Tweak first.
Screen tearing disappears with VLC, Plank give nice zoom effects, nice unobtrusive shadows around windows.


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@dh13 I’m adding Compiz support to MATE Tweak, your config file is helpful :slight_smile:

I'm using the config file for Compton linked by @dh13 and there's a slight issue with Mate: it applies a square block with shadows to the overlay notifications (like sound volume) as you can see in the following picture (it's barely visible but check the top-right corner):

I guess it's only a matter of adding the right name to the shadow-exclude list but I don't know what to add. There might also be other Mate-specific software that don't behave as expected.

Compiz is too much.
Will be possible in the future to have something like xfce compositor for transparency?

Or like Xfce4 Composite Editor:

Thank you!

You can try Compton, which is pretty lightweighted. The Xfce compositor is tied to the Xfce window manager anyway, it can’t be used on it’s own. It’s like Marco on Mate.

The main drawback of Compton is that it’s not easily configurable as the settings are made in a config file and not a GUI. Not sure if Compton allows for windows transparency but according to the Achi wiki, you can try transset-df (https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Per_Application_Transparency). Not sure it’s up to date, though, as the wiki page has been written for xcompmgr (the “ancestor” of Compton) and so is liquely several years old.

If you’re looking for effects like Exposé on MacOS (i.e. you press a key and all active Windows appear on screen to choose one − like a super alt-tab), which isn’t handled natively by Maco or Compton − not sure about Compiz − you can look at Skippy-XD. Not sure it’s still developed, but you can check there: http://www.webupd8.org/2013/07/skippy-xd-expose-like-window-picker-for.html

I posted 2 weeks ago on using Compton and linked to the config file (see above). I can confirm that it continues to work with no apparent bugs and seems very stable. I did not need to modify the config at all. It seems to completely solve problems of screen tearing in VLC and give nice modest effects for Plank and window management (shadows etc.)

So I can recommend using the Compton compositor with Ubuntu Mate!


A post was split to a new topic: Compton configuration issue

(Yes this is an ancient thread, but...)
Today I came across this article:

Which states:

Desktop compositors have become a modern necessity, whether it be due to screen tearing or simply a yearning for desktop eye candy. While compositors often come at a cost – speed and resources – a tiny compositor is here to save the day: Compton. Able to run on even the lamest of machines, Compton can smooth out graphics on low-end hardware or make a new machine’s desktop lightning-fast.

So I searched 'compton vs. marco' which brought me here - so I ask=>
Now in 2020, is there any reason for concern regarding which compositor to use (or none a'tall...) ??
I ask mainly because of helping some older friends & they are more visually sensitive than I am.
I also used the tags here in seeking further info, but this remained the best thread of the bunch.
Hopefully my reviving this ancient thread will not offend anyone.

If you have trouble resizing windows with the mouse, because the resizing borders are too thin, option "Marco (Adaptive compositor)" can help.

Options "Marco (No compositor)" and "Marco (Compton GPU compositor)" give you extremely thin window resizing borders that are hard to hit with the mouse.

Many users do not know or do not want to use the "Alt+mouse" window resizing method. Besides, if you are using a laptop touchpad or a remote desktop session, resizing windows with their borders may be the only comfortable option.

I have collected detailed information about window resizing issues here:


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