Ubuntu – How to correctly enable Desktop Cube in Unity 3D


I have read several questions regarding how to fix an already enabled desktop cube or the problems it had in 11.04. But in 11.10, how can I correctly enable desktop cube in Unity 3D?

Best Answer

  • This is what I invented and tested with more than 20 PCs. Note that you actually NEED a video card that can render this and to have the drivers correctly installed. Look for the answer in the following links to install the drivers correctly:

    How do I install the Nvidia drivers?

    How can I update my NVIDIA driver?

    Can not install Nvidia driver

    What's the difference between the nvidia-current, and nvidia-current-updates packages?

    1. Install Compiz Config Settings Manager

      (Note: What are some of the issues with CCSM and why would I want to avoid it?)

      sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

      NOTE: If you have 12.10 or above you need to also install the compiz-plugin package. So instead of the final terminal line mentioned above, it would be:

      sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-extra

      If you do not install the compiz-plugins you will not see the cube or rotate plugins in the compiz plugin list.

    2. Open Compiz Config Settings Manager and go to Preferences

      Open CCSM from dash


    3. Select Plugin List Tab

      Plugin list

    4. Disable Automatic Plugin Sorting and accept the warning that will appear after trying to disable it.

    5. From the Disable Plugins List, Enable the following plugins: cube, rotate

    6. From the Enable Plugins List, Disable the following plugins: wall

    7. Go back from the Preferences menu to the Main Compiz Menu and select General Options

      General options

    8. Go to Desktop Size tab and change the Horizontal and Vertical Virtual Size to 4:

      How it looks in 12.04 or below Virtual Desktop Sizes in 12.04 How it looks in 12.10+ Virtual Desktop Sizes in 12.10+


    There is no need to restart the PC or logout or anything additional to this steps. In this case it works on Nvidia, Ati and Intel cards.

    If you want to add more Effects you would do them in the Preference options but you need to be careful which Plugins have problems with others. In this case they are working excellent.


    Simply leave CTRL+ALT pressed and then with the Arrow keys press -> or <- to rotate Right or Left, respectively.

    You can also (If you mouse has support for a third middle button), leave the middle button pressed while in the desktop (Without selecting anything else) and move your mouse around.

    I will need to test it even further to say that it is stable but so far am typing this with the Cube effect activated, could drag a video I was watching to another virtual desktop and no problems.

    On 12.04 watching Family Guy

    Desktop cube

    On 12.10 watching Game of Throne + AskUbuntu

    enter image description here

    On 13.04 watching (actually crying) Fringe:

    enter image description here

    Lastly, you can just download My Compiz Profile to import using the CCSM Import option and have the configuration that is mentioned in this post.


    If this is giving you any video errors or glitches, then you need to go back to the defaults. I would try to run ccsm again and simply put the "Wall" plugin back from Disabled to Enabled in the Preferences Menu and then Activate the "Automatic Plugin Sorting". Or just set all plugins to automatic by enabling the Automatic Plugin Sorting option again. Now logout/login just in case any of them gives an error or weird behavior. If you can't open the Compiz Settings Manager go to the terminal and type ccsm.

    Options to reset Compiz and/or Unity to default (In case of an error) are:

    UPDATE - Confirmed working on at least 10 PCs and 5 Laptops. All laptops are HP ranging from DV6000 up to DV9700. The desktop PCs are all Intel Core 2 Duo and all have Nvidia cards. The laptops only the last 2 have nvidia cards. The rest are intel.