Eee 701 Planetoid


cairo-compmgr, Conky AND xsnow: is it possible?

Filed under: Desktops, Software — Tags: , , , , — Tim @ 18:14

I don’t often ask you good readers for help on this blog (sorry about that!), but I was hoping that someone reading this might be able to dig me out of a metaphorical snowdrift…

At the moment, I am trying to assemble a suitably Christmassy instalment of “My Eee Desktop” for next month, but I’ve run into a small problem. At the moment, I am running Cairo Composite Manager on top of Fluxbox, and for the most part it works fine, providing various desktop effects (translucent windows, animations, etc.). At the same time, I also run Conky, with the “own window” setting enabled so that it will appear when cairo-compmgr is operational.

For my Christmas Eee desktop, I’d like to add the old X favourite xsnow… but there’s a problem: xsnow draws to the “root window” (i.e. desktop), as does cairo-compmgr. In other words: if the latter is running, you can’t see xsnow. (This has been a known problem with desktop environments like GNOME and KDE for years, as they too use the root desktop to draw folders, icons and so on.)

Basically, if I turn off Cairo, I can get xsnow and Conky running together, due to the latter’s “own window” setting, but Conky “blocks” the view of xsnow (as Conky is running in its own window, on top of xsnow). There are solutions for running xsnow with GNOME and KDE, but neither seems to work with cairo-compmgr—I would’ve thought there was a way to add some kind of “exception” in Cairo for xsnow, but I haven’t yet found it.

So, in short: can anyone think of a way to run xsnow with cairo-compmgr?

(Also, I’d be interested to hear if anyone knows of any other “festive” Linux applications, such as “strings of blinking lights across the top of the screen” and that sort of thing—frankly, the cheesier the better 🙂 )

Thanks in advance for any help, and I’ll be glad to reveal the results in a few weeks’ time…



  1. I just wanted to let you know how helpful this blog has been to me. My mother bought a Asus Eee PC 900 and the hard drive crashed. Long story short, Windows XP (after reinstalling it) is so slow on this machine, so I switched it to linux, and had the same problem with EEEbuntu 3.0 edition. My mother really liked that so for now I have that installed but with all updates disabled. You blog has pointed me in the right direction…. but you are the only credible voice on the net when it comes to EEE PC’s & EEEbuntu or which distro to use.


    Comment by Dave — 2011/11/19 @ 22:04

    • Thanks Dave 🙂 I might well have stuck with Eeebuntu 3 if they hadn’t stopped maintaining it – Arch Linux certainly isn’t for everyone (esp. not the non-technical user), but it suits me “down to the ground”!

      BTW: if you’re interested in an Ubuntu derivative that’s light on resources but well-maintained, Xubuntu (XFCE desktop) or Lubuntu (LXDE desktop) look interesting. I might have tried them both if I’d known about them in the summer… but I’m happy in Arch-land 🙂

      Thanks again!


      Comment by Tim — 2011/11/19 @ 22:23

  2. After reviewing all your posts, I have decided to go with one of your recommendations… Xubuntu. I will look familiar to my mom as not to cause to much confusion (as she is pushing 60’s) and will give me the familiar Ubuntu admin console. I think it is awesome my mother is going anti-Microsoft all of a sudden – LOL. Do you know if the extra’s (That are specific to Eee PC’s) are included with Xubuntu 11.10 or 10.04 LTS? I don’t want to spent alot of time on it as she is only in town for the weekend. I am decent with Linux but not as in-depth as I would like to be (Mac OSX & Windows has spoiled me to death). If you know please reply… if not, cool, Ill be back to check your blog anyway!

    Again, Thanks for your postings on this, I would have to imaging that someone out there has the same issue as me and will run into this blog as I did!

    Also, please keep posting your desktops screens. I really enjoyed seeing how you made the Eee work for you!

    Sincerely Blessed,

    Comment by Dave — 2011/11/20 @ 03:16

  3. I’d also love to find a solution to this so I can use gifview to have an animated background image, will update if I find anything.

    Comment by milk — 2011/12/08 @ 20:05

  4. Did you get sny further with the desk-top xsnow ? Running Ubuntu 11.04 here and xsnow works well, but temporarily obliterates desktop icons until you ‘wipe’ them with the mouse cursor.

    Comment by Geoff — 2011/12/15 @ 12:21

    • Hi Geoff – sadly not; I rather gave up after a while 😦 I should mention that xsnow was adjusted by its developer about ten years ago, to coexist with GNOME and KDE, but as I’m using Cairo on its own with Fluxbox (which can give variable results), xsnow and cairo-compmgr don’t seem to play happily together. Maybe next year I’ll find a solution…

      (BTW: do you live near the Cannington Viaduct? I’ve wanted to see it ever since I found out about this big viaduct just sitting in the middle of the English countryside, with no apparent reason to be there (though as a bit of a “train buff”, I know why!)…

      Happy Christmas 🙂


      Comment by Tim — 2011/12/15 @ 12:55

      • Hi Tim,

        Please let me know if you do any work on xsnow in the new year – I would be interested in working with you on it.
        Yes, the Cannington Viaduct is just up the road from my house ! Here’s a link to a photo of it on my website, taken a couple of years ago in the snow

        Merry Xmas !

        Comment by Geoff — 2011/12/16 @ 08:17

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