Enabling 3D effects in KDE 4

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KDE 4 comes with it’s own set of cool 3D effects built-in, but disabled by default. In order to enjoy these effects, you need to enable them manually through the Desktop section of System Settings. But in some cases, enabling 3D can get painfully difficult, as was in my case.

3D can be enabled through one of two options – XRender and OpenGL. Effects using XRender are quite slow and inferior to what is offered by OpenGL.

Enabling 3D with XRender normally works well on almost all machines, but problems start when you try to enable 3D using OpenGL. The most common error that pops us when trying to do so is:

Failed to activate desktop effects using the given configuration options. Settings will be reverted to their previous values

Here are some simple steps to make sure you can enable OpenGL 3D effects without errors and problems.

To start with, make sure you have:

  • Proper video drivers installed (proprietary drivers in case of NVIDIA and ATI) and 3D acceleration enabled.
  • The xorg.conf file setup properly.

In most situations, these sections are usually missing from the file xorg.conf (found in /etc/X11):

Section "Files"
    ModulePath     "/usr/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/nvidia"
    ModulePath     "/usr/lib/xorg/modules/extensions"
    ModulePath     "/usr/lib/xorg/modules"
EndSection
Section "Screen"
    Option       "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True"
EndSection

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