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A compositor for X11.
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Compton is a compositor for X, and a fork of xcompmgr-dana.

I was frustrated by the low amount of standalone lightweight compositors. Compton was forked from Dana Jansens' fork of xcompmgr and refactored. I fixed whatever bug I found, and added features I wanted. Things seem stable, but don't quote me on it. I will most likely be actively working on this until I get the features I want. This is also a learning experience for me. That is, I'm partially doing this out of a desire to learn Xlib.

Changes from xcompmgr:

  • inactive window transparency (specified with -i)
  • titlebar/frame transparency (specified with -e)
  • menu transparency (thanks to Dana)
  • shadows are now enabled for argb windows, e.g. terminals with transparency
  • removed serverside shadows (and simple compositing) to clean the code, the only option that remains is clientside shadows

The above features give compton a feature set similar to the xfce compositor.

Compton has only been tested with openbox so far, but frame transparency should work with any window manager that properly sets _NET_FRAME_EXTENTS.

Fixes from the original xcompmgr:

  • fixed a segfault when opening certain window types
  • fixed a memory leak caused by not freeing up shadows (from the freedesktop repo)


The same dependencies as xcompmgr.


B for build-time

R for runtime

  • libx11 (B,R)
  • libxcomposite (B,R)
  • libxdamage (B,R)
  • libxfixes (B,R)
  • libXext (B,R)
  • libxrender (B,R)
  • pkg-config (B)
  • make (B)
  • xproto / x11proto (B)
  • bash (R)
  • xprop,xwininfo / x11-utils (R)
  • libpcre (B,R) (Will probably be made optional soon)
  • libconfig (B,R) (Will probably be made optional soon)

To build, make sure you have the above dependencies:

$ make
$ make install


$ compton -cC -i 0.6 -e 0.6
$ compton -cC -i 0.6 -e 0.6 -fF
$ compton -cC -fF -I 0.065 -O 0.065 -D 6 -m 0.8 -i 0.6 -e 0.6


compton [-d display] [-r radius] [-o opacity]
        [-l left-offset] [-t top-offset]
        [-i opacity] [-e opacity] [-cCfFSdG]
  • -d display Specifies the display to manage.
  • -r radius Specifies the blur radius for client-side shadows.
  • -o opacity Specifies the opacity for client-side shadows.
  • -l left-offset Specifies the left offset for client-side shadows.
  • -t top-offset Specifies the top offset for client-side shadows.
  • -I fade-in-step Specifies the opacity change between steps while fading in.
  • -O fade-out-step Specifies the opacity change between steps while fading out.
  • -D fade-delta Specifies the time (in milliseconds) between steps in a fade.
  • -c Enable client-side shadows on windows.
  • -f When -c is specified, enables a smooth fade effect for transient windows like menus, and for all windows on hide and restore events.
  • -C When -c is specified, attempts to avoid painting shadows on panels and docks.
  • -F When -f is specified, also enables the fade effect when windows change their opacity, as with transset(1).
  • -i opacity Specifies inactive window transparency. (0.1 - 1.0)
  • -e opacity Specifies window frame transparency. (0.1 - 1.0)
  • -G Avoid painting shadows on DND windows.
  • -b daemonize Attempt to daemonize process.
  • -S Enables synchronous operation. Useful for debugging.


xcompmgr has gotten around. As far as I can tell, the lineage for this particular tree is something like:

  • Keith Packard (original author)
  • Matthew Hawn
  • ...
  • Dana Jansens
  • Myself

Not counting the tens of people who forked it in between.

See LICENSE for more info.

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