I’ve decided to take advantage of my new powerful laptop and enable a little eye candy. I’ve tweaked Compiz to my liking and enabled the Cairo dock (I used the Avant Window Navigator for a couple of days and liked it as well, but Cairo is even better). I’ve been able to set up my Cairo dock to give me everything I appreciated in the old gnome panels with one exception: the user switcher applet. Cairo gives you a shut-down menu, but no way to log out of your session or switch to another user.

I have discovered the command “gdmXnestchooser” which at least lets me switch to the face browser and log in as another user, but I’d like to be able to log out of my current session sometimes in order to refresh things. I have also enabled restarting the X server (similar results to logging out) as described here. Essentially, you must go to the preferences/keyboard/layout and enable the ctrl-alt-backspace key combination. Another tool, “gdmXnestchooser” allows you to create a nested X session, but you need to install gdm-2.20 to make it work and I don’t want to risk buggering up my current setup.

One thing I love about the combination of Compiz and Cairo is the ability to dump all of my widgets (weather, clock, conky, system tray etc.) onto the compiz widget layer. I have it configured to pop up when I move the mouse to the top edge of the screen so I can instantly see the status of everything without having to use precious screen real estate or flip back to the desktop. I have the dock on auto-hide, so I can use the full screen without sacrificing usability. It is an elegant solution to the problem of trying to use a single display for many simultaneous purposes.

UPDATE: Turns out it’s easy to log out from the Cairo dock…see comment below.