Augustina's Technological Blog

Technology, Perl, Linux, and a Woman's perspective on the FOSS community

Beryl is Beautiful

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Installing Beryl wasn’t too painful and it actually brought to light a minor ubuntu bug. Running Beryl has been awesome and anyone who is used to Mac OS X Aqua will really enjoy having some eye candy on their Ubuntu install.

For Beryl installation instructions, since I have an Nvidia card, I followed this set of instructions:

I will NOT be installing this on my work computer mainly because my graphics card won’t support it. (Edit: I installed it and it works fine, see below for details) running Beryl on my Nvidia 7300 has been great, and I’ve had no issues with lag or resource problems. I can’t say the same for the Intel card, and to be frank the only thing I’d need beryl for at work is to show off to my Mac loving coworkers tee hee. I can always get a laptop with a fancy Nvidia card in it, RIGHT?

Who should install Beryl?
– You should be comfortable configuring things on Ubuntu. It most likely will not work right away and will take a few extra steps to get going. If you’ve never edited a .conf file or effectively used the forums, try doing something simpler first like setting up Filesharing.
– You should have the hardware to support it — see the Beryl documentation for more info on that.

Important things to know for running Beryl:
– Backup any files you have to configure.
– Ctl-Alt-Backspace will restart Gnome. Use it if things get crazy (note that you will lose any unsaved changes to any open documents).
– Ctl-Alt-F2 will take you to a terminal screen (you’ll need to log in again).
Type ps -aux | more to see all running processes, hit the space bar to see the rest of the list.
(this can help you troubleshoot)
– To restart Gnome from “Ctl-Alt-F2” type sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart.
If your system seems to be hanging DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING, just let it sit for awhile. You’ll be booted into the Gnome log in screen once it’s fully restarted.
– Ctl-Alt-F7 will get you back into the gnome screen
– Ctl-Alt and click on the body of a window to move it without clicking the title bar (in case Emerald failed to start and you don’t have a titlebar to click)

After running the install, you will need to edit your Xconfig file. Type “sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf” to edit the conf file for the x windows server. When it opens in Gedit, check at the very bottom to make sure it looks like this:

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "Enable"

If it says “Disable” you’ll need to change it to “Enable”. If that’s the only change you are making, you really don’t need to backup the file. You can edit it in the Ctl-Alt-F2 screen by using the command pico or nano in place of gedit.

FINALLY, do NOT use Ubuntu’s Sessions user interface to add beryl-desktop as a startup session!!!

After I’d gone through the install following all the instructions, when I logged in, nothing happened! No Beryl 😦 I also started getting an error. $HOME/.dmrc could not be written, permissions should be 644 and owned by user. I thought this might also be affecting the beryl-manager startup. This started happening after I installed beryl and opened the Sessions configuration panel to add “beryl-manager” as a start up session. Apparently there is a bug in the configuration panel that fails to set “RelaxPermissions” so when the system re-loads it sets it to 0, which is the most restrictive. The way to fix it is to add the following line to /etc/gdm/gdm.conf in section security: “RelaxPermissions=1” .

Secondly, you’ll need to manually add the beryl-manager to autostart. Create a new file from your home directory by typing the following into a terminal line: sudo gedit .config/autostart/beryl-manager.desktop

A blank text document will pop open in gedit, paste this code into it (change version to whatever version your beryl desktop manager displays):

[Desktop Entry]
Version= 0.1.9999.2

For some reason with my install, Beryl won’t start automatically. I actually have to open a terminal and type “beryl”. I might have to create another autostart for that as well.

When beryl-desktop is running you’ll see a red gemstone in the upper right corner of your panel. Right click on it to access the menu. You’ll need to select a theme in Emerald. If your titlebars disappear, try re-selecting a theme in emerald. Also sometimes right after emerald starts, the windows need to refresh, you won’t see the buttons on the upper right corners of your windows. You can do this by switching virtual desktops or by switching to another view of your desktop cube (Ctl-Alt-Right Arrow).

Now Beryl should be working, configure to your heart’s content. The fact that so many extra steps have to be taken to get it up and running is an indicator that it’s still pretty beta… BUT it works great and I haven’t had any beryl-related system crashes. It really makes using my OS more fun!

Peep some Beryl videos to get some ideas on how to configure your stuff!


I installed Beryl on my work computer, which is a P4 with an Intel integrated 945 GMA. 3D is not supported, those animations don’t render well. Everything else works great, although some of the more intense animations cause a little lag when opening an application window (like when I launch the terminal). If my processor was a bit faster, I would probably be ok. the reason why this is important is because a lot of inexpensive laptops are only available with the integrated graphics card.. and the price jumps up significantly if you want Nvidia. So for most effects, the integrated card is sufficient, especially if you are able to get a faster processor and beef up the ram.

Written by missaugustina

March 10, 2007 at 6:09 pm

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