3D-Desktop Howto

Last edited: 10/17/06
This tutorial explains how to install and configure 3D-Desktop, which can be found at http://desk3d.sourceforge.net/
To request a tutorial please visit this post.

3D Desktop small

Basic Installation and Configuration

The first step to get 3D-Desktop is to make sure your graphics card has 3D acceleration and that 3D acceleration is working properly. Once you have 3D acceleration working, download and install the 3D-Desktop package along with the package for imlib2. Both of these packages can be found here thanks to James Bowling, or you may compile them if you’d prefer. After both 3D-Desktop and imlib2 have been properly installed, you can test to make sure they are working properly by typing 3ddesk in an xterm. You should now be taken to the 3D view, which looks similar to the screenshot below.

Default View of 3D-Desktop

By pressing the left and right arrow buttons you can select which virtual desktop to switch to. Once the desktop is selected press enter and you should be taken to that virtual desktop.

3ddesk has to be called every time you want to switch virtual desktops. It is very inconvienient if you have to type in the program everytime you wanted to use it. To make 3D-Desktop easier to use you will need to add a keybinding to the 3ddesk program.

Fine Tuning

You may have noticed that the first time you ran 3D-Desktop you only had a screenshot for desktops you currently had windows open. To fix this run 3ddesk --acquire 3D-Desktop should visit each of your virtual desktops and return to the one you were working on. You may want to add 3ddeskd --acquire (note this command has a ‘d’ at the end of it) to your list of startup applications so 3D-Desktop starts out with all desktops visible.

3D-Desktop can automatically move to the desktop to the left or right of your current desktop by using the --gotoleft and --gotoright flags when running the program. If you want to keep the 3D view open after changing to the desktop next to you, add the --dontexit flag to the command string. This keeps 3D-Desktop from changing the current desktop until you tell it to. (You can find other 3D-Desktop movement flags in the man page)

You can further customize 3D-Desktop by changing the mode (3D effect) by using --mode=. You can choose from carousel (the default), linear, viewmaster, priceisright, flip, or random.

Default View of 3D-Desktop 3D-Desktop Linear Mode 3D-Desktop Viewmaster Mode 3D-Desktop Priceisright Mode 3D-Desktop Flip Mode


The 3ddesktop.conf file can be found in /etc and can be used to set the default mode to use and other things so you do not have to include them in your commands for calling 3D-Desktop.

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6 Responses to 3D-Desktop Howto

  1. bassmadrigal says:

    Great well kinda…

    It gets the first screenshot of the current desktop, but it doesn’t get any of the other desktops.

    I looked through the help and I didn’t see anything in there that seemed like it would fix this.

    Any pointers…

    BTW this is on KDE if that matters.

    Thanks Again

  2. dosnlinux says:

    I don’t think it matters which window manager you use. I did notice that 3d desktop will show a gray square for each desktop that you don’t have any windows open in. Try running ‘3ddesk -aquire’. That should make it take a screen shot of all your virtual desktops so you’ll have something other than that gray square. If that works add “3ddesk -aquire” to the list of programs KDE runs at startup.

  3. Bing says:

    I find it very annoying loading up 3ddesk.. it isn’t seamless enough so it’s pretty useless. Does it feel the same way to you guys? You press your key combo, it loads and then you have to press arrow again to move it.. it just seems like too much work

  4. dosnlinux says:

    After playing around with 3d desktop some more, it looks as if it can be made to integrate better than this tutorial suggests. It does take a little bit more effort to integrate it though. I will update the tutorial when I get all the quirks worked out. Until then you may want to try adding ‘–dontexit’ at the end of whatever commands you are using.

    It really does make a nice, lighter alternative to XGL’s desktop switcher.


    the tutorial has been updated

  5. Pingback: Savadeep Speaks! » Why are we needers of a 3D desktop?

  6. JamesB says:

    You need to use the –aquire command option I believe…

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