Is this a blog or time machine? I ask because I’m about to launch headfirst into 2009, aka the era of showy, superfluous Linux desktop effects.

We’ve seen wobbly windows, magic lamp effects, and beautifully blurred backgrounds all re-implemented as GNOME extensions.

Now comes the true eye-candy showstopper: the 3D cube desktop effect.

Made famous by Compiz (though implemented in other window managers too) the 3D cube desktop effect was the ultimate weapon in the arsenal of “can windows do this?” attacks. I dare say many were first introduced to the notion of workspaces (back then Windows and macOS didn’t have them) because of this effect.

It didn’t so much as leave an impression on people as leave a crater: people loved it.

Despite being fairly showy it’s a relatively simple effect: each workspace becomes a face on a spinning, interactive 3D cube. In addition, the effect made application windows “float” off of the workspace in a separate layer. This added depth and dimension to otherwise ‘flat’ 2D workflows.

Was the Linux 3D cube effect a powerful way to improve productivity? Heck no, but it sure as heck looked cool.

Now the 3D cube effect is back thanks to Simon Schneegans (of GNOME Pie/Fly Pie fame). Much like the original Compiz cube it’s inspired by, this marvellous re-make isn’t masquerading under any pretence. The GitHub project description even states: “indulge in nostalgia with useless 3D effects”.

Fancy giving it a go?

This 3D Cube GNOME extension requires GNOME 40 or above. So to use the Desktop Cube GNOME extension on Ubuntu you need to be using Ubuntu 21.10 or later (or a Linux distribution with GNOME 40 or above).

The add-on also requires the default horizontal workspace switcher to be present, so be sure to disable any workspace-altering extensions prior to this one.

Desktop Cube on GNOME Extensions

Various parts of the desktop cube can be tweaked from the extension’s settings dialog.

Desktop cube settings

This window (accessible from the Extensions app, or via the GNOME Extensions website) includes control to adjust (among other things) the gap between workspaces, separation of background and window, horizontal stretching, opacity, and animation duration.

Download compiz desktop effects Eye Candy GNOME Extensions