If you'd like to use desktop apps or features that require a 3-D compositing manager but lack the hardware power (or patience) to enable Compiz effects, the Tombuntu blog points out that the standard Metacity window manager can fit the bill. As noted, enabling metacity's compositing gives you just a few effects—mostly window previews on Alt+Tab switching, drop shadows, and window movement smoothing—and relies only on the CPU for power, so nearly any graphics card can use apps like the OS X-style Avant Window Navigator. To enable Metacity's built-in composite manager on most any modern GNOME-based Linux distro, open the
gconf-editor tool (by launching with Alt+F2 or through a terminal), head to
apps->metacity->general, and enable the "compositing_manager" option. Hit the link below for a command line switch you can script or shortcut to turn compositing on and off.