Linux 3D Desktop

Open Source Project to Enhance Linux 3D Desktop

3D-Desktop is an OpenGL program for switching virtual desktops in a seamless 3-dimensional manner on Linux. The current desktop is mapped into a fullscreen 3D environment where you may choose other screens. Several different visualization modes are available.

Want to impress your friends with Linux? Use 3D-Desktop!


Hardware acceleration is not always setup for you on Linux. Often you need to install some drivers. Here are some links to various locations where you can get drivers for various cards.

For most cards you need DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure) found here. If you have nVidia you must install the nVidia drivers instead. They can be found here.

On Debian GNU you can install nVidia drivers with 'apt-get install nvidia-kernel-src nvidia-glx-src'

If you don't know what kind of card you have try one of the following:
X :1 -scanpci
cat /proc/pci
or see "Device" section of /etc/X11/XF86Config-4


1. Installing 3D-Desktop

Binary Packages for 3D-Desktop are not available for all distributions, but the source is. May the source be with you.

* Fedora Core users: HOWTO: Building 3d-Desktop RPM package for Fedora Core
* Gentoo users: emerge 3ddesktop

Verify that your X server is accelrated (with the command glxinfo) using proper 3D video drivers for your card. Nvidia owners can obtain drivers from

2. How 3D-Desktop allows you to impress people

3D-Desktop allows you to get an overview of all your desktops displayed in 3D.

(3ddesk --view=carousel)

It also has a feature that allows you to go from one desktop to another and view the desktops move like the side of a cube.

(3ddesk --gotoleft --nozoom)

3. Assign some keyboard shortcuts that make make 3D-Desktop switch from one desktop to another.

The standard keyboard shortcuts for this purpose today are:

* Tux/Windows-key + Left Arrow and Arrow Right
* Ctrl+Alt+ Left Arrow and Arrow Right

(Defaults in KDE 3.1 and Gnome).

3.1. How to use 3D-Desktop with your window manager

   usage: 3ddesk [ OPTIONS ]
  Activates the 3d Desktop.  3ddeskd daemon must be running.
  Where OPTIONS are:
--view=xxx        Uses the options from the view in 3ddesktop.conf
--mode=xxx        Sets the arrangement mode 
                          (one of carousel, cylinder, linear, viewmaster,
                           priceisright, flip, or random)
--acquire[=#]     Grab images for all the desktops by cycling thru
                          (sleep for x millisecs at each screen for refresh)
--acquirecurrent  Grab image for current desktop
--nozoom          Disable the zoom out
--gotoright       Goto the desktop to the right
--gotoleft        Goto the desktop to the left
--gotoup          Goto the desktop to the up
--gotodown        Goto the desktop to the down
--goto=#          Goto specified column (deprecated)
--gotocolumn=#    Goto specified column
--gotorow=#       Goto specified row
--dontexit        Don't exit after a goto
--stop            Stop 3ddesktop (kill 3ddeskd daemon)
--reload          Force a reload of 3ddesktop.conf
--noautofun       Don't Automatically turn on Fun Mode
--revmousewheel   Reverse the mousewheel
--swapmousebuttons Swap the mousebuttons
--altmousebuttons Use alternate mousebuttons scheme

You will want to assign the arrow keys to run 3ddesk --view=goright and 3ddesk --view=goleft. It may be preferable to use --nozoom because the zooming part simply takes to long. Using the window managers own method of switching between desktops will always be much more efficient. 3ddesk will make you less productive, but it will, as said, allow you to impress heavily.

The --mode= option allows you to impress in different ways: carousel, cylinder, linear, viewmaster, priceisright, flip, or random.

3ddesk --mode=viewmaster

3.2. Using 3D-Desktop with Fluxbox

Fluxbox users can add this to ~.fluxbox/keys and get the really cool go-<direction> desktop switching using 3D-Desktop. This just scrolls like you are viewing a cube from one desktop to another.

 # Use 3ddesk to change desktop
Mod4 KP_6 :ExecCommand 3ddesk  --gotoright --nozoom
Mod4 Right :ExecCommand 3ddesk  --gotoright --nozoom
Mod4 KP_4 :ExecCommand 3ddesk  --gotoleft --nozoom
Mod4 Left :ExecCommand 3ddesk  --gotoleft --nozoom
Mod4 Down :ExecCommand 3ddesk --view=carousel
* Mod4 is the Tux/Windows key on the left side of modern keyboards.

* Mod4 Left :ExecCommand.

You can use Mod1+Ctrl (Mod1 is Alt, so Alt+Ctrl) instead of Mod4 if you are using a very old keyboard:

Mod1 Ctrl Left :ExecCommand.

This also allows you to get an overview of your desktops with Alt + Arrow Down:

3ddesk --mode=carousel

4. Configuration

You can configure the default behavior for 3D-Desktop system-wide in the file /etc/3ddesktop.conf.

view         default    ## this is the default if no --view specified
zoom         on
show_digit   on
digit_size   100
digit_color  green
use_breathing false
You can configure how big the numbers showing the desktop should be, and other eye-candy related things.

The most interesting use for this file is to create custom views:

  view         goright
zoom         off
mode         cylinder
gotoright    on
view         goleft
zoom         off
mode         cylinder
gotoleft     on
This will enable you to start 3D-Desktop with --view=goleft and --view=goright using those preferences.

3ddesk --mode=linear


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